25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question in his capacity as Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Has he been advised by the Department of External Affairs that a leading Catholic Vietnamese priest said recently that the ruling military junta in Saigon was worse than the dictatorial Government of Ngo Dinh Diem? If so, does he regard this attack on Marshal Ky’s regime as being Communist inspired and, therefore, unworthy of notice? If he believes the statement to be true, does he consider that he should reverse his Government’s decision to send thousands of young conscript Australians to die in mangrove swamps in an undeclared war in defence of something worse than the dictatorial Government of Ngo Dinh Diem?
– We can all, of course, find statements in this highly controversial situation to support the views which we hold. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statement to which the honorable gentleman has referred. He has selected a statement emanating from a country in which it is well known there are various sects and groups in conflict one with the other and tending to be critical from time to time of the Government, whatever the leadership of that Government may be. If I were to adopt the attitude which the honorable gentleman has adopted on this matter I could refer him to a statement at the weekend by a former British Labour Attorney-General that Australia would be out on a limb if South Vietnam fell to Communism and that the war in Vietnam was vital to world peace regardless of what the lunatic fringe might say.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Last Tuesday in the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement on Government policy, the right honorable gentleman said that South Vietnam is a free state recognised by the United
Nations. Since the accuracy of that statement has been questioned in some quarters, does the Minister still believe that the statement was correct?
– The statement has been correctly recounted by the honorable member and is undoubtedly correct. South Vietnam was established as a country at a convention held in Geneva in 1954. As is the case of all the divided States - South Korea and North Korea, East Germany and West Germany, South Vietnam and North Vietnam-
– It was not established in 1954.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Yarra that interjections are out of order.
– None of the divided States is a member of the United Nations. The honorable member for Yarra is violently against South Vietnam.
– I want to see the truth.
– That is all.
– That South Vietnam is a State recognised by the United Nations is to be found in the fact that South Vietnam is a member of a number of United Nations agencies - for instance, the International Labour Organisation-
– Not of the United Nations.
– Order! I name the honorable member for Yarra.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put-
That the honorable member for Yarra be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Was the press correct in reporting the right honorable gentleman as saying that the majority of Australians would support his Vietnam policy when they had all the facts? If he was correctly reported, when does the Prime Minister propose to make these additional facts known?
– I am taking such opportunities as are offered to me, both in the time available for discussion in this House and at such public gatherings as I can attend, to explain as clearly and in as much detail as I can the heed for Australia to be participating in South Vietnam in support of the Government of that country and its people and our allies who are joining with us in the resistance to Communist aggression. I am also trying to give detailed information relating to the national service scheme, illustrating the necessity for it i£ Australia is to maintain an effective military force on the scale that the Government’s own defence advisers, including our military advisers, have recommended to us to be necessary. Unfortunately, one’s efforts ia this direction are sometimes inhibited by limitations of time in discussion in this House. There is a limitation on time available to any individual member to put the facts as he sees them and there are occasions, such as I experienced last night, when supporters of the Opposition apparently do not wish the Government’s facts to be publicly known.
– Has the Prime Minister been advised of a report of a speech made by the former Attorney-General in the Attlee Labour Government of the United Kingdom, Lord Shawcross, who has been reported to have said -
The struggle in Vietnam is absolutely vital to the defence of the free world - whatever the lunatic fringe may say. If South Vietnam was surrendered to the Communists, Laos and Cambodia would be finally lost - what then of Thailand which is already being infiltrated? India would be outflanked, Singapore and Malaysia indefensible.
– Order! The honorable member’s question is far too long.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. In view of your former rulings on questions put in this manner, is not the honorable member’s question out of order, since he is giving information?
– Order! The honorable member’s question is out of order only because it is far too long. The honorable member for La Trobe will direct his question.
– Will the Prime Minister make sure that such statements by reputable and distinguished Labour men of the United Kingdom are widely published to the Australian people in order to combat the lunatic fringe publicity given to the Australian Labour Party propaganda and Communist propaganda within Australia?
– I have already made some reference to the speech of the former Labour Attorney-General and I found his views remarkably close to those held by three political parties in this Parliament, and completely at variance with the views held by the members of the Australian Labour Party.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether in Sydney yesterday he stated: “ It is unfortunate that the burden of defending Australia should fall on too narrow a front of the Australian people. Perhaps we may see it widened “. If so, would he mind saying whether this proposed widening means that the Government is now contemplating conscripting all males between 18 and 25 years of age?
– The honorable gentlemen opposite can always be trusted to bring the worst out of any argument which is badly reported in the Press. Last night I used the words quoted by the honorable gentleman but they did not mean what he says they mean. What I said was that I thought it would be better if the burden for the Vietnam war were more widely distributed. If the honorable gentleman will read this morning’s Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ he will see that the reporter made an express bracketed explanation of the situation to say that this referred to the situation following the pacification of South Vietnam when this country would, no doubt, be called upon to join in developing a better way of life for the people of South Vietnam. The idea that any widening of the effort - and it was not referred to as a war effort - could apply only to additional people recruited for service in Vietnam is an invention of the honorable gentleman’s own fertile mind.
– In the absence of the Minister for External Affairs, who is at present overseas, I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I preface my question by referring to an announcement by the Acting Minister for External Affairs, Senator Gorton, that Australia has offered $200,000 worth of rice to help Indonesia counter the effects of floods in Java. In view of a statement by a spokesman of tha rice industry to the effect that Australia would not be able to supply the amount of rice required X ask: Will the Minister discuss with the Prime Minister and the Acting Minister for External Affairs the possibility of substituting flour in lieu of rice, because of this industry’s particular worries, well known to the Minister?
– This question ls scarcely within my province, but I can say to the honorable member that when the Government makes a gift of food in circumstances such as this it would always seek to supply the kind of food desired by the country to be benefited. This would be the policy in this case, but as I know that Indonesia has been an important importer of flour, and therefore is accustomed to flour as an item of diet, I am sure that if rice were unavailable consideration would be given to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to the widely reported speech made by the Minister for National Development to a Young Liberal Movement conference in Melbourne during the weekend in which he is reported to have stated that not for one moment did he believe that our defence is helped by northern, development? The Minister then implied that he supported the view that it would be easier to invade Australia from the north if the north were developed. Will the Prime Minister categorically state whether he supports the viewpoint of the Minister for National Development and whether this view now represents the new policy of his new Government? If it does not, will he take immediate steps to see that this statement is publicly retracted, or alternatively that such harmful statements by a senior Cabinet Minister which have acutely angered Queensland and northern people-
– Order! The honorable member must not make any comments. I ask him to direct his question.
– If it does not, will the Prime Minister take immediate steps to see that this Brisbane Line statement is p ublicly retracted, or alternatively to see that such harmful statements by a senior Cabinet Minister, which have acutely angered Queensland and northern people, are not repeated?
– I did not read the report of the speech to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I am familiar with the views generally held on the subject of northern development by my colleague. I find him a great enthusiast for the cause of northern development and he is devoting himself energetically to making up for some of the lack of effort which was experienced in the years in which honorable gentlemen opposite were in government. I am quite confident that whatever my colleague says will be good sense and will be based on the soundest factual background. I shall ask him for a copy of the speech because I am sure that I will find it informative and enlightening.
– Did the Minister for Trade and Industry notice in last Friday’s Press an article suggesting that member nations of the European Common Market felt that Britain was now in a more amenable frame of mind regarding her entry into the Common Market? Does this mean that the British Government will not consider the financial wellbeing of Commonwealth countries in their future trade with Britain, or will her attitude be much the same as it was before when negotiating for entry? Is the Australian Government in constant touch with our advisers on this matter in the United Kingdom, and has the Government succeeded in redirecting an appreciable percentage of our exports of dairy produce, dried fruit, canned fruit and other export commodities, which are dependent primarily on Britain as a purchasing source?
– If I may, I will take the latter part of the question first. The Government, and the various marketing authorities set up by statute, have been devoting their energies to seeking new markets wherever they can be found for the items that the honorable member has mentioned - canned fruits, dried fruits, dairy products, meat, fresh fruit and so on. We have had a considerable degree of success in the diversification of markets, so that it may be said today that, not so much as a deliberate act of policy but as an achievement in marketing, our opportunities for selling these products worldwide are now much greater than they were ten years ago or before the war.
I have read a number of articles recently touching on what may happen, whichever party is elected to government in Britain, about the United Kingdom seeking to enter the Common Market. I have also read reports of a change in the attitude of General de Gaulle to Britain’s entry and a change in the attitude of other countries. All 1 can say is that, at the moment, what is being said about Britain’s entry to the Common Market is being said on the election hustings rather than as a considered statement of policy by a government in office. It is pretty clear now that Mr. Heath, who is the Leader of the Opposition, is at least as eager today to have Britain join the Common Market as ever he was. Having done a lot of business with Mr. Heath on this, I know that he is very keen to have Britain join the Common Market. The position of Mr. Wilson’s Government seems to be that it sees virtue in Britain joining the Common Market, but Mr. Wilson has made some undetailed observations about the necessity to protect the trade of the trading partners of Britain. This, of course, would include the Commonwealth countries. I think the attitude in Britain on this subject and the attitude of the Continental Europeans will become clearer in the next few months. However, this obviously is a matter of vital importance to Australia and I assure the honorable member and the country generally that we are losing no opportunity to keep abreast of thinking and of intentions wherever these can be elicited in the areas in which decisions can be taken.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. On whose authority and for what reason has the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Talks Department cancelled the broadcasting of commentaries that it had already recorded on the burning of draft cards? Does he believe that the Commission should not be as free to report and discuss controversial issues as the Press or the Parliament?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows that the terms under which the Australian Broadcasting Commission operates are set out in the Broadcasting and Television Act. He also knows that it is not my intention at any time to interfere with its carrying out of its responsibilities.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. The Minister has recently announced action taken by the
Government to stimulate activity in housing construction. Can he inform the House whether this action has yet had any effect? What are the latest figures of commencements in dwelling construction, including houses, home units and flats?
– As I have pointed out to the House on more than one occasion, the Government and the Reserve Bank induced the savings banks to make available a further $24 million towards the end of last year for private housing construction and within the course of the last ten days $15 million of loan funds have been approved by the Commonwealth to be spent on the public sector of housing. We have made it clear that it is a little too early yet for the full impact of these stimuli to become apparent. However, I am able to state that today the figures will be made available by the Government Statistician and they will show that there has been a big improvement in the number of approvals as compared with the situation in the last few months.
In other words, the number of approvals for further dwellings for February will be well over 7,600, which is close to the record number approved in 1965 - it is only 6 per cent, less - and is 1 per cent, more than the large number approved in 1964. If we consider the number of homes - not flats and other units - we find that approvals for private houses increased last month by 5 per cent, over the number for February 1965. So we find that the fall has been in flats and home units which already have a saturated market. As I have said, the impact of the Government’s measures has not yet been fully effective and we can expect that for this month and in the months to come we will find a substantial improvement in the number of approvals and, finally, in the number of commencements and in the impact that these will have throughout the building industry as a whole.
– My question to the Prime Minister is addressed to him in his capacity as Leader of the Government. Does the Government periodically make available to Ministers and some Government committees V.I.P. aircraft for transport purposes? On those occasions are Government back benchers invited to tag along? Is it a fact that last Friday the Minister for Air and members of the Government parties’ defence committee flew to Williamtown, New South Wales, in a V.I.P. Viscount and that requests for seats made by myself and the honorable member for Newcastle were disregarded. As the Government could have saved expense and the members six valuable hours of waiting for transport to return to their electorates, were all seats on the plane occupied? Do the privileges associated with membership of the Parliament apply only to members of the Liberal or Country Parties so far as some Ministers are concerned?
– The general principle applying to V.I.P. aircraft is not that they are merely a means of transport; they are to be viewed as a means of carrying out more effectively the Government of this country. Australia is a very vast country and it is important that members of the Government should be able to visit as many parts of Australia for official purposes as it is practicable for them so to do. I do not think any honorable member would suggest that as members, particularly of the Cabinet, in travelling by air at least 1,000 miles a week we are flying for fun. We fly on the business of this country and the V.I.P. service is to enable us to do that more effectively. Usually Ministers are accompanied by members of their staff. It frequently happens that Ministers are able to employ usefully the hour or two of travelling time in carrying on the work which otherwise would be performed in their office.
When Ministers travel together opportunities are created for the sort of discussion which is helpful to the conduct of the departments of the Ministers concerned. When I travel in one of these aircraft it becomes a travelling office and most people on the aircraft are quite busily engaged on the public service of the country. I am” not aware of the circumstances in which my colleague the Minister for Air made the aircraft available for members of the Government parties’ defence committee. I assume from the fact that they were visiting Williamtown that it was on an inspection associated with the work of that committee. But generally speaking the aircraft are to be reserved for the use of the Governor-General, for senior members of the Government and other Ministers when they are engaged on the official business of this country.
– I address to the AttorneyGeneral a question that relates to the proposed legislation, to which reference has been made from time to time, for the control of off shore oil operations around the Australian coast. It seems that Australia’s best prospects of making oil discoveries are in the off shore areas and this prediction seems to have a lot to commend it, having regard to the quite exciting developments that are taking place in areas adjacent to ‘.he electorate of Gippsland.
– Order! The honorable member is now making a speech. He had better direct his question.
– I understand that there is to be a scheme of joint Commonwealth and State legislation covering both the sea bed beneath territorial waters and the area of the continental shelf beyond territorial limits. I ask the Minister whether he can indicate what progress has been made with the preparation of this very important legislation.
– The legislation mentioned is very complicated, both because of its content and because it needs the concurrence of’ seven Parliaments and, at ..this stage, seven Governments. All six States and the Commonwealth have representatives meeting together for the purpose of preparing the necessary Bill, which will be quite large. Essentially, it will fall into two parts. The first part will relate to the application of existing laws to the off shore areas. For instance, if a crime were committed in an off shore area, which law would apply. The other part of the legislation will deal with what may be described as the mining code. If my recollection is correct, there will in this part be about seven distinct portions dealing with a great number of things such as, for example, permit areas, licences to exploit and pipelines.
In this instance, there has been much co-operation between my colleague, the Minister for National Development, and myself in the Federal sphere and the respective Mines Ministers and AttorneysGeneral of the States. The officers of tha departments concerned are meeting almost constantly for the purpose of resolving policy matters and then reducing policy decisions to draft form. Meetings concerning legal and mining matters are at present going on in Tasmania. On 6th April, there will be in Canberra a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General at which the matter will be further considered. A meeting of Mines Ministers, at which my colleague, the Minister for National Development, will represent the Commonwealth is to be held on, I think, 24th June. At that meeting, no doubt, a great deal more will be ironed out, if I may use that expression. Therefore, it is probable - indeed, it is the great hope of the Commonwealth and State Governments - that it will be possible to introduce legislation in the respective Parliaments later this year.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Did he address a well attended meeting in the Kooyong electorate last night? Was he heard to remark that he accepted conscription as the issue in the by-election campaign? Will he make conscription the issue in an early general election? Finally, was he happy with the reception that he received?
– I think it is a matter of common knowledge that I attended an election meeting in connection with the Kooyong by-election in the Kew Town Hall last night. It was a remarkably well attended meeting in the sense that there was not sufficient seating room nor, for that matter, leaning room for all those who wished to hear what I had to say. At least, some wished to hear what I had to say. As sometimes happens in political affairs, there was a mixed reception. Undoubtedly, there had been an organised attempt to prevent me from making, on the Government’s behalf, a statement of its policies and the facts related to those policies. This situation was in marked contrast to that at the meeting at which the Leader of the Opposition opened the campaign for the Australian Labour Party. He was given an attentive hearing in an electorate which is well known to be one of the strongest Liberal electorates in the whole of Australia. Quite obviously those who were seeking to prevent me from making my statement were supporters of the Australian Labour Party. That became quite quickly evident.
– They were kids from two universities. We did not organise them; we did not send them.
– The honorable gentleman says that they were kids from two universities. He knows rather more about it than I do. I was asked whether I said that our policy was one of conscription and that we would fight the election on that issue. I said that the two principal issues raised in the campaign were the Government’s participation in South Vietnam in resistance to Communist aggression, and the introduction of a national service scheme to ensure that Australia’s Army was adequately supported and was kept at the strength which our military advisers had told us was necessary if we were to carry out the defence policies of this country. Sir, that issue stands as one on which this Government is prepared to be judged by the people of Australia, and I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite will see to it that when this Government does set out to make its views and the facts known to the people it will not be obstructed by persons who are encouraged by honorable members opposite to indulge in the kind of tactics we witnessed last night.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question. I refer to the televising of sporting programmes. It has been customary during the football season for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, together with the commercial stations, to televise Victorian Football League matches. Have arrangements been made to televise these matches during the coming season at a time most suitable for the older and more invalid members of the viewing public?
– It has been customary for home-and-home matches to be televised in Melbourne, but as yet no arrangements have been made about these matches for the forthcoming season. As I understand the situation, last year each of the four television stations in Melbourne - three commercial and one operated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission - agreed to pay £150 a match to the Victorian Football League for television rights. I believe that this year the League is requesting a payment of £600, regardless of the number of stations that use the programme. If, for instance, two of the commercial stations said they did not want to show a particular match, each of the other two would have to pay £300 instead of the £150 that they now pay. I understand also that negotiations are contemplated for the following year and that there will be a request for an increase of Hi per cent, over the fee that was paid last year and the amount of £600 in total per day that the League is seeking for the current year.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. The Minister will recall that he made an announcement in the latter part of last year to the effect that a contract had been let for the supply of prefabricated dwellings to house members of the Airfield Construction Unit and their families during the construction of the airstrip at Tindal in the Northern Territory, and that the first units would be completed and families would be occupying them before the end of the year. Is it not a fact that only two of the units have so far been completed? If so, what is the reason for the delay, which is causing inconvenience and distress to many families? Further, is work on the airstrip behind schedule because the men have had to do work normally done by contractors? If this is so, does it indicate that this hard-working unit requires additional men and machinery to handle this very important defence project?
– I have been informed that work on the Tindal airstrip will be completed on schedule, towards the end of this year. There has been some delay in the delivery of houses. I am informed that 62 houses will be finished within the next two weeks; that about 40 of these have been erected except for connection of facilities, which will be completed by Easter; that the remaining 40 will be available at the end of the second week in June; and that 12 were damaged in transit from the manufacturer. These 12 are being replaced by the manufacturer. The delays could not be anticipated when the order was placed. So, although there have been delays, I am pretty certain that everything is now being done to get the order completed soon. If the honorable member requires any other details about this matter I will be pleased to give them to him.
– Will the Minister for Immigration consider issuing with passports an identity card bearing a photograph and particulars of the person concerned, as well as the passport number and other relevant information, the holder to be instructed to carry each document separately? An identity card would be an aid to a traveller whose passport may be lost or stolen. It would assist movement, particularly in Europe, where it is the custom for hotels and similar establishments to collect and hold passports for at least one day in order to extract relevant information.
– I can understand why the honorable member has asked this question. He is widely travelled and has experience of these matters. Having also travelled in Europe and had experiences with passports I, too, can see the merit in the honorable member’s request. Of course, we all know that most Europeans carry identity cards at all times. I will give consideration to this matter. I would point out, however, that with the increase in the number of Australians going abroad, including more and more businessmen, the demand for passports to be issued quickly places a heavy strain on the Department of Immigration. Before agreeing to issue an identity card all administrative matters associated with its issue and the issue of passports would have to be considered. I will look further into the matter.
– I ask the Treasurer a question similar to one that I asked him some time ago. Has he considered lowering the sales tax on fans and air conditioning appliances for use in tropical areas just as sales tax on heating appliances used in the southern States was lowered?
– The honorable gentleman has not put that question to me before. However, I will look into the matter and if it is a practicable and sensible proposition I will see that something is done about it in the next Budget.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Has implementation of the tobacco stabilisation plan had a good effect on tobacco sales? What quantity of tobacco is covered by the plan? Is there any likelihood of the quantity being increased this year? Has the Minister heard comments from growers expressing approval of the plan?
– The tobacco stabilisation plan is working very satisfactorily. Arising out of a conference last year between representatives of growers, manufacturers and the Government, a revised schedule was adopted. This is working satisfactorily and the growers are happy about it. Of 2,188 short tons offered for sale up to last Friday, only 4 short tons had been passed in. This means 99.84 per cent, of the leaf offered had been sold. The average price obtained was 118.4 cents, which represents nearly 142 pence or about 11 pence above the average reserve price. I am sure that the Government’s stabilisation plan has greatly assisted northern development. The honorable member asked what quantity of tobacco is covered by the plan. The answer is “ 26 million lb. green weight “. There is no possibility of increasing the quantity but, under a flexible arrangement, if there is a shortage in one State the other States may make up that shortage if they have a surplus, thus ensuring that the quantity is kept at 26 million lb. The estimates given to my Department suggest that we will be very close to that figure in 1966. I am sure that there is a happy feeling throughout the industry.
– Does the Minister for the Navy recall the remarks of the Flag Officer commanding the Australian Fleet when the last contingent of Australian troops was convoyed to South Vietnam? Have steps been taken to give greater protection to our troops, having regard to the Admiral’s warning that the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “ could not provide air cover for a convoy against an intense air attack? Will the next convoy sail with greater protection? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that our Navy has a greater part to play than a limited anti-submarine role?
– In fairness to the Flag Officer of the Australian Fleet, who at the relevant time was Admiral Morrison, I must explain that a hypothetical question was put to him after he had already said that the journey by the convoy would not at any stage subject it to heavy air attack. He said further that if any convoy containing Australian ships was to take a passage which would bring it in danger of air attack, steps would be taken to see that adequate cover would be given. Admiral Morrison said that the convoy was completely covered for the movement it had to make. I assure the honorable member and the House that the Government will never allow a convoy containing Australian troops to move in any waters unless the cover provided is the most adequate that can be provided by all the forces available.
– by leave - I wish to refer to utterances reported to have been made last evening by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) at his well attended meeting in Kew. The Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “, like most Australian newspapers, did the Prime Minister the honour of reporting his remarks. Among other things, the following statement appears in the “ Courier Mail “-
Mr. Holt angered Labour supporters when he referred to the A.L.P. defence platform which, he said, had stated that Labour would honour and support Australia’s obligations under the S.E.A.T.O. and Anzus Treaties.
Amid loud booing he said: “That is a very important section of .the Labour defence platform. “ The significant thing is that the section appears in the Labour Party platform of 1963-64.”
Then he shouted above the din: “but it has been dropped . . . dropped . . . from the platform of the Labour Party in 196S.
This Australian Labour Party under its present leadership has no intention of honouring Australia’s treaties and alliances.”
Mr. Holt said this provision was deliberately dropped from the platform.
He suggested to Mr. Calwell and Mr. Whitlam that they should occupy the remainder of the by-election campaign by explaining to the Australian people why (he Labour Party had taken this action.
The Prime Minister’s statements are completely wrong, and if the report is correct and that is what he did say last night, his statement was the result of either his own ignorance or of bad staff work on the part of the Liberal Party people who searched our platform. The one thing that is true in the Prime Minister’s statement is that these words were dropped from the defence platform. However, they reappear immediately afterwards in much the same form, but elaborated upon, in our foreign affairs platform. Honorable members opposite can shriek like a flock of galahs in a paddock, but they will listen to the truth. The alteration was made at the 1965 Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party. This was about the only truthful thing in the Prime Minister’s statement. Our platform appears in a book that can be purchased for ls. 6d. The Australian Labour Party is the only party that publishes its platform and makes it available.
– No, it is not. I will send the Leader a copy of ours with my compliments.
– What the Labour Party says is this -
Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise.
This statement of principle is the accepted procedure for all governments. The British Labour Government sent its Minister of Defence, Mr. Healey, to Australia recently to discuss with the Menzies Government the question of changing its treaties or emphasising some aspect of them.
– No, it did not.
– My colleagues were present and discussed the matter with Mr. Healey.
– Britain has no treaty-
– It has one with Malaysia and we subscribe to it on a postscript or footnote basis. The Australian Labour Party believes that the S.E.A.T.O. treaty of some years ago is out of date. The Americans are bound, under S.E.A.T.O., to come to our assistance only if we are engaged in war with a Communist power, and nobody else. With respect to our defence treaties and alliances the Labour Party’s platform is absolutely clear; and I will exchange my copy of a magnificent platform for whatever the
Prime Minister wants to offer me in return. Let everybody in this House listen to what our platform states about defence treaties and alliances -
The development by negotiation of a regional defence system of United Nations member states within the South-East Asia and Indian subcontinental areas for mutual defence, consistent with the requirements of the United Nations Charter, and not inconsistent with the general provisions of Australia’s existing defence treaty commitments.
That is clear enough for anybody who can read. Why the Prime Minister should have gone out of his way last night to misrepresent us deliberately is something only he can answer. This is not all we say under this heading. We say, too -
While the Commonwealth of Nations continues to exist Australia must always remain an integral part of it . . . Co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained.
We say further -
The defensive alliance with the United States of America and New Zealand referred to as A.N.Z.U.S. is essential and must continue.
What appalling ignorance it was on the part of the Prime Minister last night to say that we wanted to scrap S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S., particularly A.N.Z.U.S., because A.N.Z.U.S. is the only treaty that has teeth in it. S.E.A.T.O. has no teeth.
– A.N.Z.U.S. has the Americans in it.
– Yes, but not the British. The Government kept the British out. Churchill made his protest about Britain not being allowed to come into the treaty. Some years ago I asked Dean Acheson why Britain was not a member of A.N.Z.U.S. and he said: “ Because the United States has no intention of underwriting the remnants of British colonialism in South East Asia.” The late Dr. Evatt fought to get Britain admitted to A.N.Z.U.S. Honorable members do not like the facts, but I am giving them.
– The Leader of the Opposition said the Americans were immoral.
– I have never said that the Americans were immoral, but I have said that the Minister for Health is stupid. He was born stupid and has been losing ground ever since. Our platform also states -
S.E.A.T.O. is ineffective but Australia should not withdraw from it until adequate arrangements are made in accordance with Conference decision related to new treaties.
In respect of Vietnam, which members opposite claim is covered by S.E.A.T.O., let me say this: We are opposed to the war in Vietnam, but we are not in favour of unilateral withdrawal by anybody. We are not in favour of any interference by boycott or otherwise with supplies needed by the men who are in Vietnam. We have said that often. We are not in favour of interruptions by anybody at political meetings. We did not organise, and had nothing to do with, the rowdyism that took place at the meeting in Kew last night. That rowdyism was due to the upsurge of the pent up feelings of the people against the Government’s decision to send voteless conscripted kids into a war in which they do not wish to engage.
– by leave - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has challenged the interpretation I placed last night at a public meeting on the very significant change in the printed platform of the Australian Labour Party as between the 1963 and the 1965 Conferences. The honorable gentleman, in his Press statement, said -
At the 1965 A.L.P. Conference references to S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. were removed from the defence plank of our platform and transferred to the foreign affairs section which immediately follows.
I have the two printed documents and, therefore, I can hardly be accused of being :unaware of what was printed. Indeed, the honorable gentleman himself was unfamiliar with his own printed platform if he, in good faith, made the statement which has been attributed to him, because it will be seen from a perusal of both these documents that the references to A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. appeared on both occasions in the foreign affairs section of the Party’s platform. There was no transfer of references to A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. They were in the foreign affairs section and they have remained in the foreign affairs section in the identical terms in which they appeared prior to the 1965 Conference. But what did happen arising out of the 1965 Conference was that certain words which had appeared in the defence section were transferred, in very different form and with a very different significance and emphasis, to the foreign affairs platform. These words were-
– What is the booklet the Prime Minister has in his hand now?
– It is the rules and constitution and Federal and State policy and platform of the Australian Labour Party, 1964-65 edition. The price is 4s. and the head office is given as Room 32, Trades Hall, Goulburn Street, Sydney. The President is given as Mr. T. Oliver, and the General Secretary as Mr. W. R. Colbourne.
– That is the New South Wales version.
– It is not the
New South Wales version. I know, that honorable gentlemen opposite are very uncomfortable about this. The document from which I wish to read is headed “ Federal Platform … as Amended by the 25th Commonwealth Conference 1963 “. It sets out in precise, accurate terms, the official platform of the Australian Labour Party. Under the heading “Defence” - I am quickly passing over the references to nationalisation of industry and other interesting matters of that kind - appears this sentence -
Labour will honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances.
That sentence disappears -
– No, it does not; it reappears.
– The honorable gentleman says it reappears. Let me show how it reappears after it has had the facelifting of the 1965 conference. The words “ honour and support “ do not appear any longer in the document. This is what does appear -
Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise.
Anybody who has a knowledge of the domestic history of the Australian Labour Party over the intervening period will recognise that this is a change of a highly significant order. I shall go on to establish that.
– The honorable gentleman, who hardly knows where he is from one day to another, whether he is there, or whether he is gone, says it is nonsense; but we know that when the split occurred in the Labour Party back in 1955 what remained of the official Australian Labour Party proceeded to attack the treaties in which .Australia found itself. It wanted to convert the S.E.A.T.O. treaty into a cultural exchange. It never felt any faith or confidence in these alliances. The honorable gentleman now speaks in glowing terms about A.N.Z.U.S. as being the only treaty with teeth in it. Why has it got teeth in it? It is because of the strength, power and support of the United States of America. What do we hear from honorable gentlemen opposite? I had exactly the same sort of slogan thrown at me last night by my audience in Kew as I get here in this House - “ All the way with L.B.J.” This is what we have had from honorable gentlemen opposite.
– “ When “, he asks. He should be. in this chamber more often if he has not heard that one thrown at honorable gentlemen on this side of the House. Let me mention just one or two other matters of passing interest. At the time when this change in Labour’s policy was taking place, the discussions were conducted in the open. Honorable gentlemen opposite had become so embarrassed by the charges that they were directed by 36 faceless men that they decided to bring the faces before the public.
In Sydney in August 1965, the Labour Party’s Federal Conference conducted a full scale debate on Labour’s foreign policy and defence policy. It was open to the Press, so the Party’s conflicting and divided stand on these issues was brought out into the open. According to the Press reports, the debate on foreign affairs on 5th August 1965 developed into an “ unravelled tangle “. I ask the House to bear with me on this, because it is quite important. The Australian Labour Party’s Foreign Affairs Committee recommended that -
Australia should support the economic development, security and self government of other nations, and it cannot be neutral in the face of aggression by those who would deny these things to others.
This was the recommendation brought forward by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Labour Party. But it was not adopted. It was defeated by the Federal Executive by a substantial vote. According to Press reports the tangle began when a Federal Executive amendment was put to have this sentence removed, and with confusion mounting, the President, Senator Keeffe, admitted -
We are likely to get tangled up, as we often do, when we discuss foreign affairs.
– What newspaper report is that?
– The “Sydney Morning Herald “.
– Oh, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– If the honorable gentleman wishes to deny the accuracy of the report, let him do so. But he has not denied it up to the present time. I repeat, Senator Keeffe said: “ We are likely to get tangled up as we often do when we discuss foreign affairs.” I do not think the honorable gentleman will deny what next followed. Mr. Chamberlain moved for an adjournment and after the meeting was adjourned delegates voted 23 to 13 to adopt the Federal Executive’s amendment to delete the references to neutrality and aggression. In other words, a recommendation which came forward in terms which I think most members of this House would approve, was not acceptable to the Federal Executive.
Then we come to the next significant development. I shall not take up the time of the House covering all this serial of misadventure, this series of cliff-hanging episodes which we have been following with unabated interest from day to day. But, since the defeat of the proposal by the then Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Labour Party to which I have referred, there has been the significant move by the Federal Executive of displacing members of that Committee. Let me name those who were displaced. I think these are the men who were on the Committee at the time; if they are not then I stand corrected. They were the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), the honorable member for-
– The right honorable gentleman should stick to spear fishing. / Mr. HAROLD HOLT-I know that the honorable member for Wills does not like this at all. They were the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, the AttorneyGeneral in the Labour Government of South Australia, and Mr. R. W. Holt, a former member of the Labour Party in this House and a very respected member, a former State President of the Labour Party in Victoria, and a very senior member of its Executive in that State before he retired from it. This was the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Labour Party. Those members were replaced by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), and Senator Cavanagh. So, Mr. Speaker, in 1965 the Labour Party deleted from the defence section of its platform any reference to honouring and supporting the alliances and treaties to which Australia is a party. It put in a wishy-washy reference under the foreign affairs section. It then replaced what was recognised to be a right wing foreign affairs committee with a committee, which I am sure the honorable member for Reid would not deny, is as leftish a committee as the Federal Executive could select. Knowing the history of the Labour Party in these recent years, knowing its attitude to the United States of America as evidenced in the North West Cape episode, knowing that it has dropped this significant reference to honouring and supporting Australia’s alliances, and knowing that it has made the recent decision to exchange its right wing members in the Foreign Affairs Committee for left wing members, I believe that any Australian community that handed over its government to an Australian Labour Party constituted as this one is could have no faith that the treaties and alliances to which Australia is a part would be honoured.
– by leaveI also was misrepresented in the statement which, despite difficulties, the Press reported the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) as making last night. The Prime Minister said that the Australian Labour Party had dropped, dropped, dropped - he used the triple term - a significant phrase concerning treaties from its defence policy at its Federal Conference last August. He did not state that a phrase concerning treaties in very similar terms had been inserted in the foreign affairs part of the platform at the same Conference. The only difference in wording between the two clauses is to emphasise that treaties should be kept up to date. Another section which my Leader has quoted concerning the South East Asia Treaty Organisation emphasises the fact that S.E.A.T.O. no longer deals with situations which can arise in our area. There was no difference on this issue between the statement made on S.E.A.T.O. at the earlier Conference in 1963 and that which was put in the platform in 1965. There is no difference in the wording of the platform concerning the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States as between the earlier Conference in 1963 and the Conference in 1965. That is to say that, in all material respects, the statements in our foreign affairs platform concerning S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. were the same at the earlier Conference in 1963 as they were at the Conference in 1965. The specific references concerning those named treaties were unaltered. The only change concerning treaties was to transfer the passage which the Prime Minister quoted from the defence platform to another version in the foreign affairs platform, a version which made it plain that we believe that all treaties should be kept up to date.
– What about the change in the Labour Party’s foreign affairs committee?
– Order! The honorable member for Mitchell will have his chance.
– No, Sir. He has had his last chance. The Prime Minister then referred to notes of newspaper reports concerning some debate at the Conference. He has not the newspapers in front of him. He did not authenticate the notes from which he was quoting. We have, but he did not have, the platforms of the Labour Party for 1963 and 1965. He referred to a debate on new terms which were inserted in the preamble. The only difference between the preambles of the Labour Party’s foreign affairs platforms of 1963 and 1965 is that the following commencing words were inserted in 1965 -
The Labour Party, as a democratic socialist and internationalist Party, believes that every nation must share in the skills of mankind and the resources of the world according to its needs and must contribute to those skills and resources according to its capacity.
The Labour Party believes Australia cannot isolate itself from the struggles of the peoples of the world for economic development, security and self-government.
Those words I have just quoted are new features of the Labour Party’s platform, and are completely consistent with the attitude that Australia should have universal or regional treaty arrangements.
The Prime Minister has been caught out in a half truth. He quoted the words which had been dropped from the defence platform concerning treaties. He did not quote the phrases which my Leader has quoted from the defence platform and which remained in it concerning regional defence treaties. He did not quote the references to specific treaties which remained unchanged between 1963 and 1965 in the foreign affairs platform. He did not mention the new general statement concerning treaties which was put in the foreign affairs statement. He did not mention the new sentences in the preamble to the foreign affairs statement. He wanted his audience to believe that significant words on treaties had been omitted - dropped from the defence platform. He did not tell his audience last night that those words had been transferred to the foreign affairs platform and that the foreign affairs platform had been augmented by a new preamble. As I have said, the right honorable gentleman has been caught out in a half truth. I believe that I am to be followed in this debate by the Minister for Trade and Industries (Mr. McEwen) who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party and who is at an advantage in that no copy of the Country Party platform has been printed since S.E.A.T.O. was drawn up.
– by leave - The issue being discussed now arose in a very simple form. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) last night made a statement about certain words being removed from the policy of the Labour Party and certain other words being substituted at a different place. I am sure I am right in saying this. This has hurt the Labour Party and we have been treated to an exhibition of a slick use of words to try to prove that the Prime Minister was wrong - knowingly wrong - and that the Labour Party has altered nothing.
– There is nothing slick about it. It is all true.
– Is it not true that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and his Deputy (Mr. Whitlam) have set out to tell the House and the country that the Labour Party has altered nothing of its policy?
– Nothing of substance.
– Nothing of substance. This is the issue. I do not want this to be the subject of a shouting match. I ask the Leader of the Opposition: Has the Labour Party altered something of its policy?
– It is not a matter of argument or opinion; it is a matter of fact.
– What was wrong with the “ Daily Telegraph “ commenting on it? The Press was there.
– Order! The honorable member for Watson, as well as interjecting, is out of his place.
– I have here the Labour Party’s Federal and State Policy and Platform about which the Prime Minister stated - and the Labour Opposition agreed, of course - that it contained these words: “ Labour will honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances.” That is simple, unequivocal and unarguable.
– And undeniable.
– It is equally undeniable that these words have been removed from the Labour Party’s policy.
– Transferred? You cannot transfer an apple into a pear. They have been removed from the Labour Party policy. That is the simple truth; they have been removed. “ Labour will honour and support Australia’s treaties.” Those words have been removed. It is true that some other words have been inserted in the policy. Let me read out the words claimed to represent the transfer of the words “ honour and support “ -
Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise.
– What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with it, except that it is the vehicle for withdrawing from the Labour Party’s policy the statement that it will honour and support Australia’s treaties. It is as simple as that. Why would Labour withdraw its proclaimed intention to honour and support treaties? Why would it, unless it intended not to honour and support existing treaties? Why would any party’s political policy declare: “ We will from time to time review treaties?” Every government in the world is competent to do that. Every government in the world all through history has done that. These words mean nothing. They are put in as a trick to enable a pretence to be made that there has been no alteration in the Labour Party’s policy.
All that the Prime Minister is directing the attention of the country to is that Labour has withdrawn from its policy the statement that it will “ honour and support “ Australia’s treaties and has substituted the statement that it will “ periodically review “ them. Who will review them? Who will advise on the review? The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser)? Will he review? Will he advise? Or will it be the respected Attorney-General of South Australia, widely spoken of as the coming Premier of South Australia, if not (he coming Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament? That suggestion has been published. I do not know about its authenticity, but it has been widely published. Will he review and advise? Will Mr. Bob Holt, who is known as an aggressive Labour man, as a man who is anti-left in Labour, review and advise? Who will, review this? Who will advise the Labour Party? The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns)?
– He is out.
– He should not be out while all of the honorable members opposite are allowed to remain in. He did very little compared with their behaviour.
– I am glad of a little lightheartedness, but this is not a lighthearted subject. There is not a thinking Australian who does not fear that the honorable member for Yarra is a very left wing thinker in the Australian Labour Party, and that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is a very left wing thinker. I have listened in this House with close attention for years to the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Reid, and I have never heard either of them express a doubt as to the validity of Communism - never.
– The right honorable gentleman has not listened to them.
– Yes I have. 1 have listened with close attention. Of course, the third man who will assist the Labour Party to review its attitude to treaties is Senator Cavanagh. I refrain from canvassing the ideological views and record of the gentleman, but I say that many of us know enough to have real doubts.
– That is a bit of a smear.
– That interjection from the Leader of the Opposition might be merited. He said: “ That is a bit of a smear.” He compels me to fill out my statement. I ask: Is it not a fact that the Labour Government prevented Senator Cavanagh from visiting the Woomera rocket rangs?
– That is completely true; and the right honorable gentleman’s Government allowed him to go when it came into office.
– I did not want to be distracted, but I do not like smears. Had I stopped at the point when the honorable member interrupted he would have been correct, because I had made a half completed statement. I have now completed it, and the Leader of the Opposition has conceded in this Parliament, and his statement will be recorded in “ Hansard “, that Senator Cavanagh, now to be one of the prime advisers to the Australian Labour Party in the review of treaties, was once prevented by his own Party, while it was in office, from going to Woomera.
– And was once allowed to go by the right honorable gentleman’s Government.
– That may or may not be right. All that I am speaking about at the moment is whether the words “ honour and support Australia’s treaties” are really the same as “periodically review its defence treaties”. Of course we cannot examine the alternative words “ periodically review “ except in conjunction with a study of those who will advise on the review. Some of those who would have advised were thrown out because they were not left wing thinkers. Blind Freddy could tell they were thrown out because they were not left wing thinkers and left wing thinkers were substituted for them. That is what the Australian people have to know.
– Now, why do you sell wheat and wool to Red China? Does that make you a Communist?
– I am quite untroubled to discuss that subject, but I am unwilling to let members of the Australian Labour Party off the hot seat on which they have put themselves.
– You are on the hot seat on conscription.
– You would like to think so. The cold truth of this matter is that, unless the view is to be taken that Australia will never again find itself in danger - it would be a bold man who would look into history and say that - Australia needs friends. We need powerful friends and we need reliable friends. The only circumstances in which we are entitled to have a friend is if we are a good friend ourselves. If we want a steadfast friend, we must be a steadfast friend. This is where Australia stands with the United States of America. We will not be a party ourselves to proclaiming in our policies that we want to review the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty or any other treaty. If ever circumstances should so dramatically change that there should be a review, a provision in a policy is not needed to enable us to review it. These words are there for no other purpose than to cloud the fact that serious, unequivocal words were taken out of the Labour platform.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– He was a prisoner of war of the Japs and you will not let him defend himself.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. The honorable member for Reid seeks leave to make a statement. Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Reid making a statement.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– I have no wish to prevent the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) from putting his own view on this subject and the facts as he sees them. Tonight he will have an opportunity to do that while the House is on the air. The Parliament has business to deal with. I gave the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) an opportunity, as he requested, to state the case for his party. I followed that by giving an opportunity to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). Each side of the Parliament has produced two speakers on the matters that are in controversy. Other members of the Parliament no doubt would also like to be heard, including the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). They will have opportunities under the forms of the House, when other subject matters come forward, to go into this fully.
– in reply - The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) was attacked by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and he was mentioned adversely.
– In what way?
– He was listed as one of the left wing people who had been put on a committee. He wishes to explain his own position on that point.
– Let him do it tonight.
– Of course, he will have his rights tonight, but he wants to talk about the foreign affairs policy of the Government tonight. He is entitled to protect his personal honour and, if the Government refuses to give him leave, the Government stands condemned for denying him an opportunity that every honorable member ought to have when he is attacked by some other honorable member.
– Does he claim to have been misrepresented? He has sought leave to make a statement, but if he claims that he has been misrepresented we will give him an opportunity to show where he has been misrepresented.
– In those circumstances, I withdraw the motion.
– It will be necessary for leave to be given for the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition to be withdrawn. Is leave granted?
– As leave is granted, the motion is withdrawn. Does the honorable member for Reid claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. I was not in the House when the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen) made his statement, but I was in the Party Room and heard it on the air. I think the right honorable gentleman said that I had no doubts about Communism.
– I said the honorable member had never expressed any doubts.
– That is completely wrong.
– The implication is that I have no doubts about Communism. I think that honorable members know that, if I had no doubts, I would have sufficient courage to join the Communist Party. I have the greatest faith in the principles and aspirations of the Australian Labour Party. I believe that the future of Australia lies in the destiny, principles, platform and objectives of the Australian Labour Party and I believe that the policy laid down by the Australian Labour Party is in the best interests of all Australians. That is why I am a member of the Australian Labour Party and that is why I am not a member of any other party. If I may use the words of Ben Chifley, I will not be pushed over to the right because of the whispered word “ Communist “. If I believe a thing is worth fighting for, I will fight. I take pride in my position as a member of the Australian Labour Party and no honorable member will smear me in this or any other snide way. I am proud of where I stand.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that he will not be allowed to debate the subject matter that has been before the Chair.
– My name has also been brought into this debate in referring to my having been elected and appointed to the position of member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party. It has been said that this part of the Labour Party will force its opinions on other sections of the Labour Party. The Labour Party is a broad party and if any section of the Labour Party on a committee of the Federal Conference tries to force its opinions on to other sections, they have the right to bring down a minority report. It is being said that Cairns, Uren and Cavanagh belong to a certain section of the Labour Party that does not represent the broad section of the Labour Party. What has to be understood is that, whilst members of the Labour Party may have differences of opinion, this is a democratic party. We come together to make decisions and when those decisions are made we loyally abide by them. What will happen-
– Order! The honorable member is now getting out of order. He has been given an opportunity to correct statements in which he claims he was misrepresented. I think the Chair has been reasonably tolerant because of the atmosphere that has prevailed.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. T will conclude on this point: As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federal Conference, I can assure all members of the Labour Party and all members of the Government Parties that I will bring forward a balanced contribution that will represent the views of a broad section of the Labour Party.
Debate resumed from 24th March (vide page 613), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the House take note of the following paper -
Immigration Policy Affecting Non-Europeans -Ministerial Statement, 9th March 1966.
.- My remarks on the matter before the House will be very brief, but I hope they will be to the point. I desire only to obtain some further definite assurances from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) in regard to two of the new proposals set out in his statement. It is not my desire to discuss our immigration policy as a whole as this has already been well covered by honorable members on both sides of the House. I agree with what has been said. Although the Opposition supports in principle the measures outlined by the Minister and accepts, so far as he is personally concerned, the assurances given in the statement that the proposed changes are not a departure from the fundamental principles of our immigration policy, I suggest that it is quite fair to say that the changes contemplated give very wide powers to whoever is Minister at any given time and, accordingly, to his Department.
I am concerned about the wording of the examples of those who, under the new proposals, will be admitted in numbers greater than previously. For instance, the Minister stated as the first category of those who will be admitted in greater numbers -
Persons with specialised technical skills for appointments for which local residents are not available.
I stress the last part of the paragraph - “ for which local residents are not available”. I should like to know exactly what is meant by that expression and how it will be applied. In my- view the phrase, “ specialised technical- - skills “, covers a very wide range of occupations, especially when used in conjunction with the words “for appointments for which local residents are not available “. Is this to mean that Japanese iron ore interests in outback Western Australia can, because local residents are not available, bring into Australia in unlimited numbers specialised workers such as fitters, turners, toolmakers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers and operators of heavy earthmoving equipment, all of whom, in my view, possess specialised technical skills? If this is so it could, and most likely would, open the way to a breakdown of our historic and traditional industrial concept.
Another category which causes me concern for the same reason is that of businessmen who are defined as -
Businessmen who in their own countries have been engaged in substantial international trading and would be able to carry on such trade from Australia.
What action can be taken against any foreign businessman who is allowed entry into Australia under this new proposal to establish a business undertaking and who, because local residents are not available in sufficient numbers to make up his workforce, staffs his plants with foreign key personnel, possibly for the purpose of evading, so far as possible, our industrial conditions? Whilst I accept the assurances given by the present Minister - I am certain that he will administer the new proposals with justice to individuals and in the interests of the future welfare of the Australian people as a whole - the fact remains that he will not be the Minister for Immigration for evermore. I, for one, would not be pleased to see such wide powers conferred on some of the young hopefuls on the other side of the chamber if they were ever in charge of this portfolio. Accordingly, I should like further assurances from the Minister that the Cabinet emphatically and definitely subscribes to his views and subscribes to the assurances that he has given. Further, I want to know whether this matter has been discussed and approved by the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and especially by the trade union representatives on that body.
– I congratulate the Government on the modifications which have been made to our immigration policy. Although they may not be very large, they are very wise. I have never experienced any real trouble with our immigration policy when I have visited Asia, for the simple reason that I have never in any circumstances used the adjective “ white “ when referring to our policy. I have never called it a white Australia policy because it was not so much the policy that caused objection; it was the use of the adjective “ white “ which implied racial superiority. When that term was used people of other races objected. It was usually the idealist, the do-gooders and, I might say, the left wingers who went to
Asia to cause trouble who stated that the policy was a white Australia policy. Then, naturally, there were objections, Press controversy and so on. I have found that nearly all our friends and neighbours in South East Asia have understood that our policy was not based on racial discrimination as such but on our ability to absorb into our own community people of different races and of different origins.
Practically every nation among our friends and neighbours in Asia has a policy which is very similar. In the Philippines I was told on one or two occasions by not unimportant people - no names, no pack drill - that they already had too many Chinese people in the Philippines and did not want more Chinese coming in as migrants. But they go even further. In their business community any Chinese businessmen running a company has Philippine partners. That is also the policy in Malaysia at the present time and I have no criticism of it. People seem to think that the immigration policy which we have had for some time in Australia is peculiarly Australian and is pointed at racial discrimination, but when we investigate the policies of our neighbours we find that, in reality, they are all quite similar. Let us consider Burma as an example. Burma has recently sent back to India, mainly from Rangoon but also from other parts, I understand - I speak subject to correction on the figures that I cite - about 300,000 Indians. Ceylon has arranged to send back a large number of Tamils. By no means all Tamils are to be sent back to India, but Ceylon has arranged for quite a large number to be returned.
Then there are racial troubles such as have occurred in British Guiana, where there is a mixed population of Indians and Africans. It does not need any words of mine to tell honorable members of the recent racial troubles that have occurred there and also in many respects in Africa, where Chinese and Indians are often leaders in the business community and therefore excite soma jealousy. I believe that all nations, particularly those in this part of the world, have done their best to avoid what are known as communal racial riots. When I was in Singapore in July last year on my way to Vietnam, there was a definite feeling that racial riots might occur because of the differences of opinion that had arisen between Singapore and Malaysia. The separation took place when I was on my way back, and I happened to be in Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur on the morning when the separation bill was introduced. After having been in Sarawak, I returned to Singapore to find that the fear of racial riots had disappeared for the time being. This constant fear appears not in Australia but among our friends and neighbours. For this reason, as I have said, they have understood our policy though they do not like it. I quite agree with their thinking about the adjective “ white “ which was used by some people in the past in relation to immigration policy and which implied racial superiority in this context. I am glad that the Australian Labour Party has now removed this adjective from its statement of its immigration policy.
Again, I speak subject to correction, but I understand that we have about 10,000 people of Chinese origin who are naturalised Australian citizens. The number may even be more now. We have about 12,000 Asian students here. Not all of them have come here under the Colombo Plan. Some have come under their own steam. I believe that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), speaking on behalf of the Government, was correct when he said that it is not intended that the modifications to our policy shall apply to these students, for the simple reason that we all know that various forms of aid are being given. I hope that we can give more and I trust that other countries will do more to assist the smaller countries, particularly those in South East Asia, to improve their standard of living and to achieve the improvement in their technical skill that is necessary if they are to raise their standard of living. If we are to encourage students to come to Australia and, on completion of their studies, they remain here as citizens, neither they nor we will be acting in the interests of their homelands. The Asian countries, as the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Birrell), I think, mentioned, are terribly short of technical skills. We hope that by encouraging Asian students to come to Australia we shall make it possible for them to gain technical skills and return to their own countries to be of great benefit by assisting in programmes to raise the standard of living of their countrymen.
Many Australians who travel abroad have been inclined to present us as being unpopular in Asia. I can only say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that that has not been my experience. I would say that on the whole Australians are very popular in our neighbouring countries. I have had considerable experience in this respect. However, I do not suggest that some of us do not make mistakes. I would like to see considerably more briefing of members of Parliament, students and others who travel to Asian countries for the first time. I shall mention just one instance of what happens. It could be multiplied many times. An Australian student visited an Asian country during his university vacation because he wanted to learn more about South East Asia. He was keen to understand the problems of people in that part of the world because he believed that the more Australians understand the problems of our nextdoor neighbours the better we shall be equipped to aid them. This student was in the first or second year of a degree course in either economics or commerce and, in his enthusiasm, shortly after his arrival in the country concerned he began to tell one of our friends there how he believed the country’s economy should be run. He had very limited knowledge of the subject that he was discussing and, probably because he was over enthusiastic, he had not bothered to find out that the person to whom he was talking had obtained first class honours in taking an economics degree at either Yale or Cambridge - I forget which. That sort of mistake must be avoided in the future. Possibly it arises from an old superiority complex that has very largely disappeared. But even a few such mistakes can spoil the image which. I hope, Australia already has in the countries of South East Asia. I could give another instance of a fairly prominent individual who was travelling in South East Asia-
– Order! The honorable gentleman is getting a little away from the paper that is the subject of the debate.
– I am discussing the attitude of various nations to migration. All I am saying is that we have to be very careful in this matter. But, if you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, do not want me to continue on that line, I shall not do so. It is a question of our understanding our nextdoor neighbours and of their understanding us. If we want them to understand us and our immigration policy and the reasons for it, we must be very careful that we do not make mistakes of the kind that I have just mentioned.
A number of people have argued that we ought to widen our immigration laws considerably more than has been proposed by the Minister. They say that we should do this to allow over populated countries in Asia to decant some of their surplus population into Australia. May I point out by another illustration that this proposition is based on a fallacy. In Taiwan, or Formosa, a little island only slightly more than half the size of Tasmania, two thirds of it covered with mountains rising to 13,000 feet, there are one million more people than there are in the whole of Australia. Yet Taiwan exports food. If this can be done by Taiwan, it can be done by many other countries. Therefore, it is not necessary for us to extend our immigration laws because countries in Asia are unable to grow the food necessary for their populations. I do not want to go into the problems of population explosion and family planning. In many instances the food necessary for the population can be produced if improved agricultural fertilisers are used and other improved techniques are adopted.
The modifications to our immigration policy outlined by the Minister are really only two in principle. Yet they cover a quite large area and will affect a large number of people. In recent years, many highly qualified Asians have been admitted for indefinite stay on temporary residence permits. The length of stay that will qualify them for naturalisation is now to be reduced from I 5 years to 5. The present restriction has been a very great handicap to them. I believe that it has been a very great misfortune that we have in the past separated families for long periods by allowing businessmen, technicians and others into Australia to engage in business and professions and at the same time have prevented them from bringing their wives and families. I have known many cases of hardship due to this restriction. I am delighted that the Minister has realised what the situation is and that the qualifying period for naturalisation is now to be reduced from 15 years to 5. On the other hand, 1 have always believed that it is wrong to say that because a child is born in Australia, even though of Chinese parents, it must necessarily be an Australian citizen. Not all other countries have similar provisions. I suppose that if a child of Australian parents were born in mainland China it would not necessarily become a citizen of mainland China. It seems to me the situation in this connection is still anomalous. I would like the Minister to investigate it and see whether there are ways in which the position can be improved.
The Minister in his statement gave examples of people affected by what he calls the elimination of the fifteen-year rule. He referred to “ Chinese admitted before 1956 who, if they left Australia, could go back only to Communist China. By a decision of the Government in 1956, they were allowed to stay on but, lacking the status of settlers and citizens, have been unable to bring their wives and children here.” I suppose those people are really covered by the first modification. Then the Minister went on -
The second decision is that applications for entry by well qualified people wishing to settle in Australia will be considered on the basis of their suitability as settlers, their ability to integrate readily and their possession of qualifications which are in fact positively useful to Australia.
I suppose there would be many who would come within that category and, as I stated earlier, Asian countries would want their well qualified people to remain and assist in developing their own homelands. I know that the Government was very sympathetic in the case of White Russian refugees from China after the war. I, as a prisoner of war, saw the conditions and the hardships that those people would have faced as a result of the changes that took place in mainland China, and 1 was very pleased that the Government eased the immigration regulations very considerably in order to allow these people to come here. The Government adopted a very sane and humane attitude towards them.
Although our immigration laws may have been formulated originally from economic necessity or fear of economic competition resulting in a lowering of our standards of living, for many years now those considerations have been comparatively unimportant and our immigration policy has been based on the possibility of the absorption of immigrants into the community. I believe that the proposed altera tions to our policy will assist very considerably in removing many of the objections that have been raised from time to time, for instance in the Philippines, from which Australians return and tell us that many people are still talking about the case of Sergeant Gamboa, not knowing that he has been here as an Australian citizen for a long time. One or two isolated cases of that kind can often cause a good deal of ill feeling and damage to our reputation in other countries.
I congratulate the Government on the modifications that have been made. I am sure that the new policies will be exercised with wide discretion in the interests of humanity.
.- I suggest that the Government have copies of “ Hansard “, with a photograph of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on the cover, distributed to all Australian householders. This would constitute a devastating reply to the Democratic Labour Party and the Communist Party and those persons who advocate the destruction of the Australian restricted immigration policy.
The Melbourne “ Herald “ of last Saturday contained the concluding episode of the life story of Lord Stanley Melbourne Bruce, one-time Prime Minister of Australia. It told of how Lord Bruce, after the end of his term as Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, was asked by Sir Stafford Cripps, a Labour Minister, whether he would return to Australian politics. He replied that the Liberal Party in Australia was now too reactionary for him to swallow. This story reflects great credit on Lord Bruce, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with immigration except that it appears in the same episode as contained his views on the Australian immigration policy. Those views were expressed in this way: “ Watch it, watch it, watch it. Think what is going on in America and what is developing in Britain. Anyone who suggests that we were unwise to have adopted this immigration policy is talking the most frightful nonsense.” I often sat in the galleries of Parliament House in Melbourne and listened to the then Mr. Stanley Melbourne Bruce, and I can imagine the authoritative manner in which Lord Bruce would make those remarks. But I agree with them and the Australian Labour Party also agrees with them. It agrees that this country should get the additional population that it needs from those overpopulated countries the inhabitants of which will most readily and fully integrate with the people of Australia.
Labour says that the policy should be based on the welfare and integration of all Australia’s citizens and the avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of people having different standards of living, traditions and cultures. Most Labour members and also those on the Government side of the House have made it very clear that Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen with the same language, the same culture and the same way of life as we have should be given preference in any scheme of migration to this country. If the United Kingdom can supply as many migrants as the economy of this country can absorb, and if the United Kingdom is unable to provide suitable living conditions for those people, then most Australians would say that we should not look elsewhere in our mass Immigration programme. However, during recent years Australia has been capable of absorbing more migrants than the number wishing to come here from England, Ireland and Scotland to take advantage of opportunities for better lives,
Labour’s policy is also based on the preservation of national and economic security, the preservation of our democratic system and the balanced development of our nation. If we are unable to obtain from the United Kingdom the numbers necessary to promote our development and to preserve our security and democratic way of life, we should turn to those countries whose people have not our language but whose cultures, democratic ways of life and social behaviour, developed over centuries, are similar to our own. Therefore Australia looks to Europe for mass migration, and this is in accordance with Labour’s policy. It is the policy that Labour has helped to build throughout our history.
I do not suggest that the ways of life and cultures of the United Kingdom are superior to those of all other countries. I do not suggest that those of Europe are superior to those of Asia or Africa. I do not say that all Europeans fit easily into our society or that Australians are in any way superior to others. I do say that the cultures and ways of life of the people of Africa and Asia differ to such an extent from those of the Australian people that integration of those African and Asian people, if it is at all possible, must take an immensely longer time than the integration of Europeans. During this time, not only Australians but migrants who come here would suffer tribulations and experience tragedy. As Lord Bruce said, these tribulations exist in America after hundreds of years of association of the races. They are evident in England after only a few years of association of the races. They are evident in South Africa, Rhodesia and other places.
The difficulties of integration are noi the result of racial superiority or inferiority, but of incompatibility. He is not a racialist who would not deliberately inflict upon Australia the problems of Little Rock, South Africa or Fiji. In Fiji it is not the Europeans and Fijians who fail to integrate; the problem arises there because migrants from India have failed to integrate with the native population. I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that all Asia is not casting hungry eyes upon Australia and that Indonesians and others are most reluctant .to sever connections with their homelands and come here in great numbers. Of course, people will come here if they are brought here by the industries that engage them. They will come here if required to do so by their employers in a particular industry. In these circumstances they will stay here for considerable periods and may often wish to stay permanently. I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. . Collard) that the Government should be very careful whom it allows to come here from overseas to work for firms operating in this country. It should also be very careful about the conditions under which such people come here. This applies particularly to Japanese and Hong Kong interests, which are buying up all kinds of basic resources in this country and which could well seek to bring here considerable numbers of unsuitable migrants. I join with Lord Bruce in saying: “ Watch it, watch it “.
We are already receiving from Europe as many migrants as our economy can reasonably absorb. Some people say that we are hastening too rapidly. To take more migrants would mean economic dislocations and unemployment. Should we considerably reduce the flow of European migrants in order to increase the numbers taken from other lands, or should we deliberately produce in this country economic problems and unemployment? Everybody will say: “Certainly not “. I know that those who speak as many in this Parliament have spoken are called racialists by those who advocate a quota system for migrants from Asia or other lands or by those who suggest that we should accept only the cultured, educated or technically proficient from such countries. Such people apparently close their eyes to the fact that they are themselves advocating a discriminatory and restrictive system of migration from Asia compared with the system that operates in respect of European countries. If discrimination is racialism, these people are racialists. But, as the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said, every country has a restrictive immigration scheme. Our scheme is as widely based and as tolerant and broad as the systems of most countries. Those who advocate robbing the countries of Asia or Africa of their technicians and their professional or educated classes would take away from those countries people whom they can ill afford to lose. Australia is a party to the Colombo Plan. Under the Colombo Plan we assist to educate technicians and others from Asia and other underdeveloped areas so that they may return to their countries and assist in their progress and development. But if we at the same time take from those countries more of thentechnicians and professional people than we are training under the Colombo Plan, we make a farce of the Colombo Plan and we do not in reality assist those countries. Any encouragement on our part for people with specialised knowledge or skill to come to Australia from Asian countries is not in the best interests of those countries.
As the honorable member for Chisholm conceded. Labour is in favour of assisting our neighbours in every way possible. Action to assist the people of Java to overcome the effects of the recent floods is most desirable. We have not done as much as we could to assist India in her recent famine.
Australia should always be ready to help its neighbours and other countries suffering from underdevelopment or overpopulation. We can help by trade and by other means. If we are to help them we must not add to their troubles by taking away the people they can least afford to lose.
The history of the world today demonstrates clearly that there is a degree of incompatibility between certain races. It exists in varying degrees. Some people from England, Ireland and Scotland would have difficulty integrating with our community. Some people from Europe have difficulty integrating with the Australian population. History has shown, however, that as far as some races are concerned assimilation generally has not been possible even after centuries. I refer particularly to the Negro population of the United States of America, which is creating considerable problems for the Administration of that country. The history of America shows conclusively that the Negro who was brought to America as a slave to work on the cotton plantations has not been able to integrate with the European population. The problem of apartheid in South Africa has arisen because of the failure of the various races in South Africa to integrate. The difficult problem that exists in Rhodesia has been brought about by lack of assimilation between various sections of the community. Why should we in Australia, who so far have been relatively free of these problems that afflict other countries, deliberately import them? I was in America when an attempt was made to enrol nine Negro students in the high school in Little Rock. I saw on television some of the race riots that took place. I saw how Governor Faubus of Arkansas sent armed troops to the school to prevent the integration of Negro students. Then from Washington, at the behest of Eisenhower, the then President, an airborne contingent was flown to Arkansas to see that the State forces did not prevent the integration of the nine Negro pupils into the school. Serious economic difficulties were not created for the people of America by that incident, but social problems were created. There were terrible family tragedies and all over America racial riots occurred. They occurred in the south, where the Negro population is becoming greater than the European population, and in the north in cities like Detroit. These riots have continued down through the years. There have been riots in Hollywood, in San Francisco and throughout most of the United States.
This is happening on a smaller scale in England today. Difficulties have been created in a predominantly European populated country by the immigration of West Indians who are not easily assimilated with the existing population. Why should we create problems and difficulties that are not to the advantage of those coming here or of those living here? We should not try to produce the migration to this country of people whose cultures and ways of life are so vastly different from our own. We should seek to assimilate immigrants already here and those who will be coming from southern Europe. We should give them every assistance within our power and we should show them that we will go out of our way to treat them as friends and to make their lives here as easy and prosperous as our own. We should try, too, to absorb as many people as we can from the overpopulated countries, because by so doing we will be doing a service to the human race. In achieving this objective we should use whatever gifts nature has blessed us with. We should use our production potentials and our abilities to help our neighbours.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is my pleasure to contribute to this debate, which has been carried on at a high level and which has been free of party politics. The Government’s liberalisation of the restrictions on non-European migration will be and has been accorded universal support. The acclaim accorded the Government’s intention to effect this liberalisation arises from the fact that the Government does not intend to depart from the long standing and fundamental principles of its immigration policy. It is most gratifying to note that the Government does not intend to introduce an open door policy - opening the flood gates to let all and sundry into Australia. I should like now to refer to a statement made by the Honorable A. R. Downer, as he then was, in 1959, because it epitom- >es graphically our immigration policy. He said -
To describe our immigration policy in such a sweeping generalisation as “White Australia” is misleading. It imparts an innuendo of racial superiority, which in truth is absent from our natural attitude to foreigners. Few people are less conscious of differences of race and colour than contemporary Australians.
Our policy, as we are well aware, is based on sound economic foundations. We should note particularly that it is based also on the assurance of continued racial peace. Both objectives have been worthily achieved and are being worthily maintained. Since the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act in 1901 our policy has not failed; and it will not fail. We can be proud that our policy is not directed against colour and is not based on any sense of racial superiority. It is not concerned with differences of race, creed, tradition and custom.
For years I have been particularly interested in claims made for the introduction of annual quotas of immigrants. This is a system to which I am strongly opposed. I am pleased that in the liberalised policy no provision has been made for a quota system. Time and time again scientists, journalists, students and even clerics have argued for the introduction of a system of quotas for Asian immigrants. Such arguments do not take account of the realities of life. Of course, we can be misled by sentiment and by shallow thinking, but to be so misled could have disastrous social and economic consequences for Australia. For these reasons alone we must never favorably consider introducing a quota system. For the 178 years of its existence, Australia has drawn its migrants from Britain and other European countries. This has enabled us to become a nation of remarkable homogeneity. The advantages of our racial uniformity are clear to be seen. If a quota system for Asians were adopted, then, no matter how meagre the quota, it would completely disrupt our policy which, as I have stated already, has stood the test of 178 years. It would also create bitter and endless arguments as to what should constitute the quota to be admitted from any non-European country.
No doubt some people would argue that if a quota system for the admission of Asians were adopted it would earn for us the goodwill of the Asians and also be the means of relieving the population pressures in the heavily populated Asian countries. In my view, and in the view of many other people, history shows that, as a means of appeasement, a quota system can accomplish little. On the contrary, it would be both discriminatory and selective. In fact, I believe that if we did have a quota system for the admission of Asians it would lead to our taking from the Asian countries the very people whom those countries must keep to effect their own domestic stability. Instead of appeasing racial feelings, the quota system would actually increase them, not only in Australia but in the other countries concerned.
It is interesting to note that the agitation for the adoption of a quota system of immigration for Asians is sponsored mainly by Australians, not by Asians. We should direct our energies towards making our Asian neighbours realise that our immigration policy is founded on economic not social grounds, and that it is not intended in any way as a slight on our Asian friends. To sum up my opposition to claims for the introduction of a quota system, I express the belief that these claims are purely rhetorical and indeed hypocritical.
There are some - perhaps they constitute a quite considerable body - who advocate the open door policy. Such a policy, of course, would only lead to chaos and certainly would not serve to ease the Asian population problem. In fact, I agree with the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) who pointed out that the immigration policies adopted by non-European countries themselves are fairly strict. We should never overlook the fact that when Australians go to Asian countries they meet with immigration barriers as strict as, if not stricter than, our own barriers. They are so strict that it is extremely difficult for Asians themselves to move from one country to another in Asia, even for a short visit. I understand - T believe it to be true - that it is easier for an Asian to visit Australia than it is for him to visit another Asian country. Therefore, it is quite obvious that an open door policy would only lead to the creation in Australia of chaos such as I have outlined.
So I hail with general approval, as do many honorable members, the provision to reduce from 15 years to five years the resi dential qualification required of nonEuropeans who wish to receive Australian citizenship, for I believe that the proposal meets so many of the points raised by previous speakers. I am particularly pleased to note that the Minister for Immigration is to be given the right to exercise a discretion when a worthy person of non-European origin is presented to him as being one on whom Australian citizenship should be conferred. Since coming into this House, I have been very critical of the restriction hitherto placed on the Minister. I have supported the claim of a very highly respected Indian gentleman and businessman to become an Australian citizen. Because the Minister had no discretionary power, he was obliged to refuse this man’s application for citizenship. This case is a good illustration of the reason why discretion must be vested in the Minister.
This gentleman of Indian birth is, as I have already mentioned, highly respected in the community. He has devoted a good deal of his time to public activities, seeking to assist those who are his fellows in every sense except that he is not an Australian citizen. In the course of his public activities he was elected president of a Lions Club. Although his skin is dark, he was elected president and filled that office with a high degree of efficiency. He was extremely popular amongst all members of the club. When I saw that it was possible that he would become president of the Lions Club, I felt that it would be a nice gesture if Australian citizenship could be conferred upon him before his election, but, because of the restrictive nature of the law, nothing could be done even though my representations were supported with references from leading citizens, bank managers, the mayors of two councils, Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club. How ridiculous was a law which prevented a man of his high integrity and calibre from achieving his ambition to become an Australian citizen merely because the pigmentation of his skin was different from that of ours. Thank goodness he can now join us as an Australian citizen. The only sad part of it is that he has waited 14 years and 8 months before Australian citizenship could be achieved. He has waited calmly and quietly without ostentation. If his case had been known to the Press it would have been given a lot of publicity. That is one very good reason why I welcome the relaxation of this particular law.
At this stage, I want to pay a tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), for the very efficient manner in which he has administered the acts committed to him and to his departmental heads and staff generally. They have humanely administered the rules and regulations of this most comprehensive Immigration Act. At all times, members of the Department have been very co-operative and understanding in their assistance to honorable members of this House with immigration problems which, as we are well aware, are very numerous.
In conclusion, I want to draw attention to the fact that geographically we Australians inhabit a continent which is an entity as separate from Asia as it is from Africa. Racially, we are of European origin and predominantly British. Our history and culture have their roots in Europe. We are entitled therefore to our own immigration policy, as are other countries of the world. We are entitled to our policy regarding nonEuropeans, but I fully support the liberalisation of this policy as announced by the Minister and I congratulate the Government for it.
.- I welcome the opportunity of speaking on the statement on immigration that was delivered to this Parliament quite recently by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). The Minister announced several changes that will affect the status and the migration of persons of non-European origin to this country. The Opposition does not oppose the Government’s intention as announced in the statement. Indeed, the Opposition feels that the changes are both reasonable and, I believe, desirable. They are in line with the improvements that have been effected to our immigration policy which was first introduced into this Parliament in 1945 by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Every honorable member is in general agreement that that immigration policy has brought great benefit to this country.
That immigration policy has been instrumental in increasing the population of Australia to a figure not believed possible prior to the Second World War. Although the policy has served this country very well during those 21 years it was only natural that changes in the legislation would be necessary. Therefore, from time to time those changes have been made by the present Minister for Immigration and by those who preceded him in , that office. So every honorable member in this Parliament finds himself in common agreement on the immigration matters which are placed before us. That has been stated quite frequently during this debate by honorable members on both sides of the chamber.
It is true that on this issue there will be those in this House who will feel that the Government may be moving too far in a certain direction. There are others who will hold the opinion - and I am one of them - that the Government is acting quite wisely and correctly on this issue. The Opposition does not believe that this Government, or any government, ought to open the gates for an unrestricted flow of immigration into this country. Therefore, we accept the assurance of the Minister that no drastic changes in this respect are contemplated at all and that there will be no departure from the traditional principles adopted or incorporated in the original Migration Act of 1945. If that were not the situation, honorable members on this side of the House would not be in a position to support the statement which we now have before us.
The Minister has referred to the unanimity and general agreement that one finds in this chamber on immigration matters. I referred to them myself. What the Minister now proposes is in line, of course, with the previous easing of policies affecting nonEuropeans. It will be remembered that in 1956 the Government made a statement announcing provisions for permanent residence in this country for some people of non-European origin. In 1957, as a result of a further amendment to the legislation, nonEuropeans became eligible for full citizenship rights after fifteen years residence in Australia, subject, of course, to the same conditions as apply under the terms of the statement which we now have before us. Now the Minister has agreed that some changes should be effected so that those non-Europeans who have come to this country and who hold temporary permits, but who are likely to remain here for an indefinite period, may apply for full citizenship rights after a period of only five years. In this respect, they are being accorded the same privilege as is extended to any other person who comes to this country under our immigration scheme, whether from Great Britain or from one of the European countries. We believe that this is a correct approach.
Every honorable member in this House acknowledges that prior to this statement by the Minister for Immigration, as a result of the restrictive measures which applied to non-Europeans, it was extremely difficult for those who had been here for a long time to bring their families here also. Although the Minister did not “make this point perfectly clear, I would assume that those people who may now apply for full citizenship rights because they have resided here for a period longer than five years will be in a position to apply immediately to have their families brought to Australia. 1 hope that this will be the situation. Previously, they have not been able to bring them to Australia, except in certain circumstances. Therefore, if they may now apply for full citizenship rights one would expect - and I hope that this, will be so - that they may now apply immediately for permission to bring their families to Australia. The Minister has just nodded his head; so I can accept that as an indication that what I have said in this respect will apply. Those non-Europeans, particularly Chinese, who have resided in Australia for a long period will now be able to bring their families to this country. The Opposition, as I have already indicated, believes that this is a humane approach. We believe it is an approach which should be incorporated in the legislation and we welcome the opportunity of supporting it on this occasion in this chamber. Some Chinese were admitted to Australia prior to 1956. We understand from the Minister’s statement that if they were to leave this country they would be obliged to return to mainland China. The Minister quite correctly, in my opinion, believes that these people should be given the right to remain in Australia. If the Government believes that there is a satisfactory and sufficient reason why a large section of the Chinese population should be entitled to remain in Australia, then the Opposition agrees that in the circumstances it would be better to confer on those people full citizenship rights. It does not seem to me to be the correct approach to allow non-Europeans to remain in Australia because they are not able to return to the country of their origin, and yet at the same time refuse to grant them full citizenship rights. The Opposition concurs with the Minister’s approach to this problem.
The Minister in ‘his statement outlined two further changes in the immigration programme which the Opposition does not oppose. Since the Minister has given an assurance to honorable members on this side of the House, that although the immigration laws will be broadened to provide that ‘ people of non-European origin with special qualifications will be permitted to come to Australia this will not mean an unrestricted flow of people into this country, the Opposition does not oppose the change in policy. We can accept this assurance because the Minister in his statement said -
No annual quota is contemplated. The number of people entering- [hough limited relative to our total population - will be somewhat greater than previously, but will be controlled by the careful assessment of the individual’s qualifications, and the basic aim of preserving a homogeneous population will be maintained.
The Opposition accepts the Minister’s assurance that this change in policy will not mean an unrestricted flow of people of nonEuropean origin into Australia. We asked for. that assurance. because we do not believe, as I have already said, that an unrestricted flow should be allowed. One need only consider the difficulties experienced by other countries. I refer to difficulties now apparent in the United States of America, to which my colleague the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) referred earlier this afternoon. Those difficulties and that situation ought not to be allowed in this country.
While we are prepared to concur with the Minister in his contention that certain people of non-European origin who can make a contribution to the development of Australia because of their special qualifications ought to be admitted, we say most emphatically that the Opposition is opposed to any policy that would allow an unrestricted flow of people of non-European origin into Australia. We need only to think of the problems applying in other parts of the world. I have -already referred to the problem which has affected the United States for some years. Great Britain also brought upon itself a problem, only in recent years, when it provided for almost unrestricted immigration from Commonwealth countries. Subsequently it had to change its immigration policy to prevent large numbers of people from coming into Great Britain. Even at present it has a problem which it is finding difficult to solve.
Great Britain and America are not the only countries which have found themselves in such a situation. Countries as close to Australia as India and Pakistan are faced with problems because of racial, religious and other differences, and the Opposition is of the opinion that Australia should be determined to prevent a similar state of affairs from occurring in this country. I have said on other occasions in this House, and I do not hesitate to say again, that Australia has the very grave responsibility to apply the kind of immigration policy that is best suited to meet the needs of its population. I believe that successive governments, both Labour and Liberal, have maintained the correct attitude which is the only one that should be maintained.
The Opposition does .not disagree, as I have already indicated, that certain changes can be effected without overriding the essential principles to which I have referred. The Minister for Immigration has dealt with at least two of these changes in the statement that we are now debating. I have already referred to the change which will allow certain people of non-European origin to be admitted to this country because of their special qualifications. We have the Minister’s assurance that this will not be done on a quota system. I do not believe that it should be done on a quota system. Australia has a perfect right to decide the kind of immigration laws best suited to Australian conditions and it is not alone in adopting such an attitude. Other countries apply far more stringent immigration laws than we in Australia do. Malaysia, for example, is very careful about its immigration programme. Thailand, if I remember correctly, allows an annual quota of about 200. India and Pakistan both have restrictive immigration policies, even between themselves. An Indian can reside in Pakistan for no more than three years and a similar situation applies to a Pakistani residing in India. Ceylon has a restrictive immigration policy. In Indonesia the immigration laws are far stricter than they are in Australia. It would be extremely difficult for anyone from Australia to gain full citizenship rights in Indonesia on a permanent basis unless he had some special qualifications. If it is good enough for these Asian countries to have strict immigration laws it is good enough for Australia to have immigration laws which it believes protect the interests, social wellbeing and the economic standards of its people.
Our immigration laws are not aimed at any Asian country. Indeed, I think that what the Minister proposes in the terms of his statement indicates that Australia is prepared to accept its full share of responsibility for admitting people who have a special contribution to make towards our development. We have the assurance of the Minister that once they come to this country, if they can satisfy the normal standards applying to immigrants from European countries they will ultimately be given full citizenship rights. I believe that what the Minister proposes under the terms of the statement we are now debating will be of great benefit to Australia. It will enable people who have been in Australia for a very long period, and who have made a contribution to this country, to seek full citizenship rights and to be reunited with their families. It will also allow us to bring into Australia from Asian countries people of non-European stock who have special qualifications and are able to meet the standards normally applied by the Department of Immigration.
I was extremely pleased to read the suggestions made in the Minister’s statement for improvements in relation to Asian students in this country. Today almost 12,000 Asian students are attending universities or technical schools or are receiving some other form of education in this country. But I have thought for a long time that many of them have tried during the time they have been here to defeat the immigration laws and to remain here. It is true that this does not apply to the majority of the students. Asian students come to Australia to receive an education that will fit them for a certain class of work in their own country. They have a contribution to make in their own country. If they have not, they would not have been sent here as a result of the representations of their Government or under the Colombo Plan. They should return to their country. Under the terms of the Government’s policy now, they will have the right to apply for permission to return to Australia after a period of five years. In my opinion, it is doubtful whether this should be allowed. The Minister said they can apply. Naturally they will be required to meet the normal provisions that apply to all immigrants to this country. I believe that most of these students would do better to remain in their own country where the skills they have acquired would make a more significant contribution than they would in Australia.
As I have already said, the Opposition agrees with the points that have been stressed by the Minister in his statement. We believe that the changes in the Government’s policy are worthwhile. We believe that they will make a contribution to the development of Australia and will ease some of the hardships that formerly affected people of non-European stock who have resided in Australia for a long time. We accept the Minister’s assurance that the quota will be carefully watched and that there will be no unrestricted flow of people from other countries as a result of the change in policy. Because we accept the Minister’s assurance on these points, we support the action he has taken.
– At the outset I wish to express my thanks to all honorable members on both sides for their support of the Government’s new policies. I include the last speaker, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), and other honorable members who have spoken this afternoon. It has been with gratification that I have noticed the intense and deep interest in this vital and important subject and the amount of research and study to which honorable members have applied themselves. The subject is one that is so totally in contrast to any other that I believe every honorable member must feel what could be termed a patriotic duty towards it. Any errors in judgment and discretion, as has been proved so regrettably in other countries, can be serious because, after all, they are self-perpetuating through future generations. Therefore, if honorable members have felt this to any great extent, I as Minister, with the responsibility of ultimate decision, must feel too that the interpretation of the regulations must be done with what Opposition speakers have referred to as knowledge, understanding and tolerance. But in the final analysis any decision must never be to the detriment of our own peace and harmony as a nation, at this stage or in the future.
I regret that time will not allow me to comment in detail on all of the speeches. Incidentally, as a matter of interest, I mention that this is probably the only formal debate that has been held in the past 60 years on our traditional immigration policy, except in isolated instances or on bills to amend acts. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) gave a clear exposition of the attitude of the Opposition to immigration. I join with honorable members on this side of the House in expressing appreciation of his comprehensive speech. There were some specific points raised by him and I wish to give an assurance that the possession of wealth, for instance, will certainly not be the sole basis of admission to Australia. In other words, the right to settle in Australia cannot be bought, although it must be added in justice that, if a man and his family are eligible under our policy to settle in Australia, it would, of course, not be a disqualification if they were well off. The honorable member can be assured, however, that wealth alone will not entitle anyone to join the Australian community.
I was glad to hear the honorable member for Grayndler note with approval various specific points about the new policy that I announced in my statement to the House on 9th March. They are worth reiterating. We are determined to be most careful not to deprive underdeveloped countries of the skills and talents that are needed by them much more than by Australia. Many honorable members have referred to this aspect. We do not intend, either, to admit workers to meet labour, shortages. We will not admit persons on the basis of special training and experience if suitably qualified Australians are available. I think, though, that there can be no better sense of achievement than to witness the acceptance of suitable settlers into Australia. This contributes materially towards the development and progress of Australia and I assure the House that, as the Minister concerned, it is much more pleasant to accede than to refuse. However, where this country’s interests are concerned and where one’s policy of guide lines, as they have been termed, are laid down and accepted, there can be no hesitation in making one’s decisions based on a complete understanding by the House and by the Australian public. No immigration policy can possibly succeed unless it has the support of those amongst whom any new settlers come to live.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) on Thursday and the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Birrell) today dealt very thoroughly with the question of who should be accepted for entry. Perhaps the honorable member for Kalgoorlie asked more precisely about this subject. They both expressed concern lest the new decision authorised the Minister to admit workers to meet specific shortages. The honorable members dealt at some length with my phrase “ general labour shortages.” I did not give the word the meaning which perhaps they feared. I meant labour shortages that are common in various parts of Australia, and thus used the word “ general “. I assure them without hesitation that the new decision does not authorise the Minister to admit skilled workers and tradesmen, such as fitters, turners and electricians, to use the classifications that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie gave. Nor does it contemplate the admission of non-European workers for particular projects, such as he instanced, in the absence of a clearly demonstrated need for special workers who are not to be found in our own work force.
As an example of the steps we already take in relation to requests for the admission of highly skilled non-European personnel by contractors for limited periods, the honorable members for Kalgoorlie and Port Adelaide and other honorable members may be interested in the matter of the dredge at Port Hedland. I was advised that the dredge in question was the only one of its kind in the world capable of undertaking the dredging of the required channel. The nature of the operation was of such complexity that it would be impracticable to train a complete Australian crew in the use of the specialist equipment and concurrently achieve the target that has been set for the completion of the dredging project. Because of the tight programming of the various components of the project, any delays in one area could prejudice seriously the project as a whole. Consideration initially was given to the possibility that the dredge should be manned by an all Japanese crew under the supervision of American engineers and specialists. Subsequent investigations suggested, however, that a suitable crew proportion would be 20 American engineers and specialists, 27 Australians and 20 Japanese. It was therefore on this basis, and - this is most important - after consultation with the Department of Labour and National Service and the unions that authority was given for the entry for a limited period of the 20 Japanese specialists, subject to their being admitted with temporary residence status and to their being employed under the same conditions as those applying to the Australian members of the crew.
Let me be quite frank, as honorable members would wish me to be with the House, and as any applicant would desire. In our eyes every applicant is considered without prejudice, irrespective of the country from which he comes, and is regarded as a prospective, entrant to Australia. If he or she fits into our wellconsidered and considerate policy, we welcome them, but if they do not meet the criteria on which we all agree as a Parliament, refusal becomes a matter of policy and is not directed at a singular individual racial category. I remarked earlier that we do not intend to deprive underdeveloped countries of skills and talents which they may need. This applies to students also. As honorable members on both sides of the House have said, it is essential that students should return to their own countries. When their country gained independence, I would expect that every one of them, young and old, would have experienced a sense of national uplift and pride, with the thought that they were about to construct a fine new nation. Yet, having come to Australia and having gained knowledge and education in their chosen professions, it appears to me to be a direct negation of all that they have been trained for if they remain here. Let us put it bluntly; in doing so they are turning their backs on their country’s needs merely for the extra salary and emoluments that they can receive here. To my mind, without being thought presumptuous towards so many cases of first class, well behaved, highly intelligent, personable and attractive students, I feel that they have a duty to their new independent countries to assist them to gain, with their leadership, better standards of living and a higher average national production.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. - R.- Johnson) perhaps went a good deal further in some of his assertions than most honorable members would regard as either necessary or desirable in the administration of our policy. Without canvassing those points of difference which the debate shows to be mainly points of emphasis and not fundamentals, I share his view that responsible people- should make a determined effort to refer to our immigration policy as just that and not to use the colourful and increasingly misleading phrase which has given unnecessary offence over the years. I feel that I would be remiss if in recapitulating the debate I did not say that- the House is indebted to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) for a very refreshing and outstanding speech. He gave some interesting historical notes on the origin and thoughts which underlay the early Australian immigration, policies. I- would add! that this debate will, be valuable to me in the administration of the policies under discussion in that it has illustrated important truths about immigration in Australia.
One of the reasons for the quality of the debate was that many who took part in it show their interest in the subject, year in and year out, in various ways - through their contributions to the study undertaken by Government and ‘ Opposition committees, by participating regularly in the Citizenship Convention,’ by assisting migrants in their constituencies, by encouraging naturalisation and so on. At this point I should mention that the honorable member for Port Adelaide asked whether the policy with regard to nonEuropeans had been discussed by the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council in recent years. It has been discussed on several occasions. In 1964 a sub-committee of the Council considered questions which
I had referred to it. Although the Council’s recommendations are, naturally, confidential, I can state that the Government’s recent decisions are entirely consistent with the recommendations made by the Committee. I can state also that honorable members by their requests for assurances reflect an attitude very similar to my own. The Government as a whole reached its decisions on the questions under debate after very careful consideration of the issues that had been raised by various honorable members. I can assure the honorable member that these are decisions of the Government as a whole.
The honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) and the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) are making special contributions as chairmen of the Immigration Advisory Council and Immigration Planning Council respectively.’ After a debate such as this, one can express special gratitude to honorable members for their support in this and in other ways. There is a parallel to the efforts of honorable members in the efforts of the community as a whole. If the public as a whole did not have a sympathy with immigration, it simply could not be a success. I acknowledge the debt which I and the Department of Immigration over the years have owed to the many thousands of public spirited Australians who, through the Good Neighbour Councils’, the Churches and countless public, and voluntary ..organisations, have played their part in the process of migrant integration. Integration is the keynote and it has been mentioned by honorable members in their references to various countries, It is the keynote of the latest adjustments that we have made to policies which ,have been historic. Like every country, we have the right and duty to choose who will form part of our population. We will choose those who can readily become part of our community and take part actively in our future progress. We will try to see that all who join our march forward are treated alike and become Australians in thought and outlook, in law and in fact, in reasonable time and without artificial pressure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented.
– The Minister may proceed.
– I was misrepresented in a question asked by the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson). The honorable member said that in a recent speech to a Young Liberal Movement conference in Melbourne I was reported as having stated that I did not believe our defences were helped by northern development. Let me briefly inform honorable members of what actually happened. I was asked a question as to why we should develop the north. I replied that I believed we should develop the north, first, because we had vast resources there which, if developed, would strengthen our national economy; secondly, I said that we had an obligation and a duty to develop the north and not to allow any assets there to remain idle. These, I said, I thought were the basic reasons for developing the north, but that apart from the strengthening of our national economy I did not believe that northern development of itself increased our ability to repel an invader. In fact, I said, some people have claimed that it would be easier for an enemy to invade Australia if the north were developed than if it were undeveloped. I think it will be apparent that the construction put by the honorable member for Dawson on the report of my speech is quite different from the meaning I sought to convey. I should have thought that the honorable member, before trying to make political capital out of something that he read in the Press, would have verified with me the accuracy of the report.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 10th March (vide page 182), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the House take note of the following paper - Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 10th March 1966.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) speaking without limitation of time.
– Mr. Speaker, the House is beginning a debate on a statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on 10th March dealing primarily with the position in South East Asia. Although he made references to a number of countries other than South Vietnam, these were largely of a general and non-controversial kind. He concentrated his attention on the position in Vietnam. In this, I intend to follow his example. I begin by saying that the House is surely in agreement that the Australian people will always rally overwhelmingly to the cause of the freedom and security of this country.
– Hear, hear!
– Hear, hear! Yet the Government has to conscript youths to make up the force of 4,500 men that it wants for Vietnam. I repeat: The people of Australia will always rally overwhelmingly to the cause of the freedom and security of this country. Yet the Government has to conscript youths to make up the force of 4,500 men that it wants for Vietnam. It follows therefore that the Australian people do not believe the Government’s assertions that Australia’s fate and freedom are now at stake in Vietnam.
In the statement that the House is now debating, the Minister for External Affairs once again played upon the theme that Australia’s safety depends on the defeat of imperialist Chinese aggression in the present conflict. Yet, at the same time, the Government continues to demonstrate that it does not itself believe, in any sense of the word, that we in this country are engaged in a life and death struggle. If the Government believed that China was the enemy, it would not trade with China. One does not trade with the enemy. It is as simple as that. We either fight the Chinese or we feed them. It does not make sense to do both things at the same time. Yet that is the position that the Government would ask us to accept. It continues to trade very substantially with China in many primary products, particularly wheat and wool. It even traded substantially in strategic materials such as rutile sands until the Opposition exposed it. Then that trade had to stop. But it stopped only when the Opposition exposed the Government, not before. If China is now warring against us to conquer us, the Government is engaging in treason against the Australian nation by trading with that country.
If the Government believes what it asks the Australian people to believe, the Government itself is false to its trust. But, quite clearly, the Government does not believe what it asks the Australian people to believe. This is obvious from the fact that though conscripts are to be sent to Vietnam Australia itself remains entirely on a peace footing. If the Government believed its statement that we are caught up in a war such as ‘it describes, it would regard the placing of Australia on a war footing as essential. lt does not do so and the lesson of its conduct is plain to the Australian people. The Government simply does not believe what it says or else - there is only one other alternative - it is repeating the betrayal by inertia practised in 1940-41 by the forerunner of the present Liberal Government. It must be one thing or the other. There is no other alternative. The Government is displaying to the nation a complete contradiction in that it is conscripting 2Q year olds in Australia for a merciless war but is not compelling big business in Australia to make any kind of war effort. The Government refuses - and deliberately refuses - to assume the wide constitutional powers that a situation of war danger such as it says exists would give it.
– Is the United States of America doing that kind of thing?
– - There can be only one of two reasons for the Government’s refusal to exercise those powers, and each of these reasons is discreditable. The honorable member need not try to dodge the issue by trying to pass to the United States the blame for the position of Australia under this Government. Either the Government does not believe that the situation is one of war danger such as it describes or else, no matter how urgent the need to support our fighting men - about which the Government makes a great parade - it will not upset the financial picnic of its big business friends by limiting profits, by fixing prices, by controlling capital, by organising industry or by developing resources for Australia’s safety. Are we, then, less at war than is North Vietnam, which is on an austerity basis? Are we, then, less at war than is South Vietnam, where the Government is shooting profiteers in the market place? Here, the Government will not even impose any limitation on profiteering.
F.l 198/66.- R.- (29J
– There has been legislation on restrictive trade practices.
– Does the honorable member believe that that is all that is necessary in the context of war? This Government has constitutional authority now, if the war situation is as it asserts, to take up its wide constitutional powers to place Australia on a war footing and to control and mobilise all our resources. So why talk about legislation merely to restrict trade practices? The honorable member has indicated by his interjection that he believes that this job is necessary. If that is so and the Government has power to do the job, why does it not use its power? In a situation of war, the Government would have power to place Australia on a war footing and its duty to the Australian people would require it to exercise this power. But the Government does not practise what it preaches. If the people believed the Government, volunteers for this war would come forward not in thousands but in hundreds of thousands. As it is, the Government cannot even muster 4,500 volunteers for Vietnam. That indicates its prestige and status in the eyes of the Australian people. Its own conduct makes it impossible for the people to believe what it says. How can one believe a government that says that we are engaged in a desperate war and that the only action necessary for us to take to win this desperate war is to conscript a few thousand 20 year old youths? How can one believe a government that says to the Australian people: “ Your danger is so great that we must conscript your sons and force them to fight in the jungles of Vietnam but at the same time your danger is also so small that we need do nothing whatever in Australia itself to support those lads “?
In general terms it is the role of the Labour Party to strive for change and progress, and, again in general terms, it is the role of the Liberal Party to strive to keep things as they are. That is one historical reason why the Labour Party is more often sitting on your left side, Mr. Speaker, in Opposition, and why the Liberal and Country Parties are more often sitting on your right, in Government. It is also a political dictum that a party of the left finds it difficult to win an election on foreign policy while a party of the right finds it difficult to win on domestic policy.
– Professor Crisp is pretty old hat now, you know.
– I think the statement is correct, whether you agree with it or not. Thus, as an election now approaches, the Government once again seeks to magnify and exploit an issue of foreign policy in an endeavour to create among the people the powerful emotions of suspicion, hate and fear and to minimise the issues of reason upon which otherwise the electors would probably decide against it. The fact that this course may prejudice friendship with our neighbours and may even fan the flames of war is ignored. This course by the Government is so injurious to the public interest that the Opposition must challenge it and seek to defeat it. And to the extent that the facts can be presented clearly to the people the Government will be defeated on this issue, because this is a warmongering Government.
– You are an ass.
– The honorable member for Parkes is a good representative of this warmongering Government. There is no reason why nuclear bombs must rain mass death upon this country. There is no inevitable reason why we must engage in war with China. It seems only yesterday that we heard it said that we must inevitably war with Russia, but today Russia is quite respectable. I think we were told that we had only two years before war would begin.
– It was three years.
– Three years, was it? I believe the honorable member is right. Now we are told that the enemy is China. There is no justification for abandoning the effort to build the United Nations into an effective peace keeping force in the world. Yet where on the Government side does one find today any enthusiasm or any real support for the concept of the United Nations?
No interest of mankind anywhere is now served by war between nations. Indeed every way today, no matter how minor, carries the nuclear seed of mankind’s destruction. We should now be building organised strength throughout our continent so that it will remain ours, instead of handing over our national resources - as this Government is doing - to foreign control while we dispose of our manpower in foreign countries. There are always malign interests which profit by driving nations to the brink of war. I do not suppose there is anyone on the Government side who would deny that. In this Parliament we see some Government members deliberately building a war atmosphere for the sake of a political profit that they hope to gain from it. They can be seen at their trade in this House day after day and night after night. It is a contemptible trade.
– Are you speaking as a member of the Labour Party’s foreign affairs committee?
– Order! I point out to the House that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is leading for his party and a little courtesy would not be out of place. The honorable member for La Trobe is one of the offenders.
– I would say at once, however, that these Government members to whom I have referred are not lacking in a patriotism of their own. In the time of national danger they will themselves unhesitatingly enlist for the service of Australia. Their records in two World Wars is the evidence of their willingness to do this, and it is evidence of their patriotism. It is a record of which they are justly proud. The fact that not one of them has so far enlisted for this conflict is the proof that they do not believe in the danger of the war situation which they are continually proclaiming. Do they lack patriotism or do they not believe that Australia is in grave war danger? I believe the latter to be the case, and that this is why instead of enlisting themselves they send 20 year old conscripts to do the job.
It is not necessary to doubt the sincerity of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), but reference to his statement to this House on 10th March shows him to be an utterly confused man. Since he is the Minister for foreign affairs in an Australian Government which has no foreign policy whatever of its own. it is not astonishing that he should be confused. This makes his confusion understandable, though it does not make it less dangerous. The Minister showed in his statement on 10th March, as he has done on previous occasions, his recognition, to quote his own words, that -
Great forces are bringing massive changes in the southern half of Asia and we cannot cancel out these great forces.
He also showed his recognition - again to quote his own words - that Australians - are living on the edge of a great upheaval in human relations and in the ideas which influence human conduct and that we cannot do anything to prevent this upheaval.
Yet, as his statement proceeds, the Minister sets aside this recognition entirely. He becomes again the politician, the agent of a foreign policy which contradicts much that he himself believes to be true. Within a few minutes he has forgotten that it is an inevitably changing world and he is busy describing what we must do to resist the changes which he has recognised as irresistible. Nowhere else in his speech is there any idea of an adjustment to these changes or to the upheaval in the ideas which influence human conduct. Instead, as he puts it, all those who possess ideas or principles different from our own quickly become dangerous enemies who must at ail costs be held back and restrained.
The Minister’s confusion is particularly shown in his attitude to China. He warns of the immense danger of active and belligerent Asian Communist imperialism, as he calls it. He describes freedom as being blotted out by the domination of the new imperialism of China and he speaks of the throttling grip of Communist aggressors. He describes their implacable purpose as to bring all their neighbours under Communist rule through a national enslavement front. That is a very plain and very clear statement. Yet in almost the same breath, or a couple of paragraphs later, he speaks of reaching an accommodation with China and says mildly -
Chine it’.elf must make some response and some movement towards accommodation.
How do you accommodate yourself to an implacable enemy? Is it possible? How do you accommodate yourself to a powerful aggressor utterly determined to dominate its neighbours by force? Can Government supporters reconcile those statements? If China is as the Minister describes it, no accommodation would be possible any more than it was possible with Hitler’s Germany. Plainly the Minister is bemused. He reaches his utmost confusion when he justifies the Australian commitment to Vietnam as being the defence of freedom, democracy and independence in that country. He says: “ We are in Vietnam to defend the independence and freedom of the South Vietnamese people “. Here the Minister is either carried away by the need to transform the facts of life into fairy tales for political purposes or he just does not know what he is talking about.
– That is probably right.
– I think it probably is. He is a confused man. He says, for example, that in South Vietnam we are standing up for the principle that its people shall not be dominated by force or threat of force. By what are they dominated now? Everybody knows that they are dominated by force today. They have no free elections. They do not choose their Government. Each of the eight or nine successive Governments in South Vietnam in the last two years or so has been established by military force and maintained by military force alone. Even in the few days since the Minister spoke there has been continuous evidence of growing opposition within South Vietnam to the Government which we are upholding in the name of freedom. Those who oppose that Government have no opportunity to take the course which people enjoying freedom would be able to take in order to change their government. The people of South Vietnam simply cannot change their government today except by force, and our force is there to help maintain that government.
When the Minister comes to the matter of negotiations he is in an obvious dilemma. He is hampered by the position taken by the previous Prime Minister, who said that even if he were the last Head of State to do so he would reject negotiations with these people. The Minister, of course, has to get away from that concept. To justify the conscription of Australian youth for this cruel war he must maintain that it is in no way a civil war but a wholly planned and deliberate aggression against South Vietnam, masterminded in Hanoi and Peking. If this were true, obviously the war would have to go on until the aggressors were driven out. There could be no compromise or negotiations. The only result would have to be victory. When you are fighting an implacable aggressor of that kind you do not stop in the middle of the conflict and ask whether you can negotiate a settlement. If you believe that the conflict in South Vietnam is aggression from outside South Vietnam and you are determined to defeat it, you do not negotiate until you have defeated it, and then you impose your terms of settlement. The Minister shows that he does not believe this is the true picture when he constantly proclaims readiness to seek a negotiated settlement and declares: “We are prepared to accept the present authorities in North Vietnam as they are, to work with them and to have them share in programmes for economic development in South East Asia”. That attitude is not consistent with the proclamation of unqualified resistance to unprovoked aggression.
We all know that there must be negotiations as soon as they can be brought about. We all know now that a victory in the struggle in Vietnam is not achievable by either side on the present basis of hostilities. But this in itself is recognition also of the fact that the war began as a civil war and that the great mass of the people fighting in the ranks of the Vietcong are indigenous South Vietnamese and that the Vietcong have the support of the peasantry in a very large part of the area of South Vietnam which they control and administer. The confusion of the Minister for External Affairs is a reflection of the confusion of the American Government and of the Australian Government, which are still unable to state their precise military and political aims in this struggle. We are constantly told by the Government that we are at war but it is impossible to obtain from the Government any precise statement of our military or political aims in this struggle. The object appears to be to find some acceptable way of getting out of Vietnam. This is understandable, and it is also understandable that it is difficult to find an acceptable way.
In a recent article, Walter Lippman said that President Johnson’s undoubted sincerity in his desire to negotiate a peace in Viet nam was not the crux of the matter. Lippman continued -
The question is whether President Johnson is prepared to negotiate a truce which recognises the strategic realities of the military situation.
Is there any answer from the Government to the question whether it is prepared to negotiate a truce or to urge Washington to negotiate a truce in accordance with the realities of the present military situation in Vietnam? Lippman then said -
This misconceived war has in fact boomeranged This country has been told that by proving our willingness to fight in South Vietnam we are arousing resistance to the expansion of Chinese Communism. But are we? If China is to be contained it will have to be done not only by the United States but by the containing powers of Asia, mainly Pakistan, India, Japan and the Soviet Union. Yet not one of these great powers of Asia is aligned with us. Quite the contrary.
They are aligned against us.
After pointing to Chinese failures in Africa, India and Indonesia, Lippman concluded by saying -
China’s one great success has been thai the United States has become bogged down in the morass of Indo-China and would now be hard put to it to mount a counter revolutionary effort anywhere else in this turbulent world, lt is no wonder then that China will do all she can to prevent us from extricating ourselves from the morass.
To what extent is China today being helped by the attitude of the Australian Government, which is keeping us involved in this Vietnamese morass - in a situation from which nobody except China can benefit? The enormous danger in the Vietnamese situation is not a present danger to Australia from Communist aggression. The danger is that President Johnson may be persuaded by some of his advisers into a great further escalation of the war - that he may order the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong and that American troops may be despatched into North Vietnam and Cambodia. The danger is that the great war with China may begin, lasting for many years and promising no rational solution. It can become a war in which the Soviet Union is involved against us. ft may produce the nuclear war that will destroy humanity. If the Australian Government is prepared to tread that path it has an obligation first to let the Australian people say whether they are prepared to tread that path.
The Government insists that we are already at war but it is time to ask again: With whom are we at war and with what object are we at war? We are not at war with the Vietcong. The Government makes it plain that the National Liberation Front is not recognised as being a government or as being an independent force. Nor are we at war with the Government of North Vietnam. This has been made plain over and over again. It is claimed that the Government of North Vietnam is merely an agent of Communist China. We are certainly not at war with Communist China, because you do not trade with your enemy and we trade very heavily with Communist China. So it comes down to the vague statement that we hear repeatedly from the mouths of Government members, namely, that we are at war with Communism. Of course we are. We are at war with Communism but this is a war for the minds of men, and this war cannot be won with bullets. What can be done with bullets is to kill Communists. This, and this alone, at present appears to be the Australian Governments’ war aim. Our success is counted in the daily tally of the number of Communists killed - 18 one day, 23 the next, 37 the next and whatever it may be. The tally is carefully kept “ You are better dead than Red “, we tell these Communists as we kill them. We mean, of course, that it is better for us that they should be dead rather than Red, not better for them. The simple thinking seems to be that Red they are a menace to us and dead they are not a menace to anybody. The simple logic is to go on killing Communists. Of course, we rose some men of our own in the process.
The awkward consideration is that even this killing of Communists becomes pointless when our actions in Vietnam are bringing recruits to the Communists faster than we can kill them. For every Communist we kill, two more spring up, and there is an almost unlimited reservoir of more of the same in North Vietnam and in China. The obvious extension of the logic, therefore, is that it is not enough to kill some Communists; all Communists must be exterminated. This is quite practicable today by the use of nuclear weapons - the only disadvantage being that in the process the whole human race will be destroyed.
If the Australian Government is not prepared to tread the path to world war it must oppose escalation of the Vietnamese war, because that is the path to world war. It must recognise that the present situation is a stalemate in which military victory is impossible on the present basis of hostilities. There is a consensus among responsible observers that the American and associated forces cannot be expelled from Vietnam and cannot be conquered, but that equally they cannot seek out and destroy the Vietcong so as to obtain complete control of South Vietnam. This, therefore, is military stalemate. Where neither side can win, the alternative to further tragic conflict is obviously a truce and negotiations for a settlement.
It is no use the Government abusing the Vietcong, the North Vietnamese or the Chinese for refusing to negotiate unless it states plainly the basis upon which it is prepared to negotiate. This has never been specifically set out. Are we prepared to negotiate on the basis of the existing military situation, or do we demand that as a precedent in this case to negotiations the control of South Vietnam must first be handed to the Saigon Government? If we take the second course we are raising an obstacle to the negotiations that we claim to seek. When the Minister for External Affairs says: “ nor is it our aim to prevent North and South Vietnam from coming closer together after fighting has stopped “, does he mean that a South Vietnamese Government would be left entirely free to negotiate with North Vietnam on the future government of Vietnam?
Is South Vietnam free today to negotiate a compromise government of Communists and non-Communists in South Vietnam, or is it our determination to continue to impose a non-Communist government in South Vietnam? With one breath we say that we are in Vietnam to prevent a Communist takeover and in the next breath our Government says that we will leave the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese Governments free to work out any solution that they choose. Which of these statements is true? Do we, in fact, insist on imposing terms of peace not only on North Vietnam but also on South Vietnam? Without plain answers to these questions the Government’s claim that the other side bears the whole responsibility for the failure to reach the stage of negotiations is simply not true.
I refer again to the theme that the only interest served by a continuance of the present struggle appears to be the interest of China. Certainly it must be to the advantage of China to keep America and Australia heavily engaged in Vietnam. It serves the interests of China politically and militarily alike; but it certainly cannot serve the interests of the suffering people of either South Vietnam or North Vietnam, and it is difficult indeed to see how the continuation of an unwinnable war suits the interests of either America or Australia. It suits China. Whom else does it suit?
Even if the war could be brought to a military victory - and Hanson Baldwin estimates that one million American troops would be required and the outcome still would be doubtful - we would be committed to a long military occupation with a largely hostile peasantry in a country right on the doorstep of China. It is surely in the general interest that the Australian Government should now urge in Washington that a most specific statement should be made of the terms upon which we will negotiate. As a step to the conference the Government should be prepared to agree that the Vietcong - the National Liberation Front so called - should be recognised as a party principal in the negotiations.
In the last few days the Prime Minister has tried to raise a smokescreen over conscription by Suggesting that a Labour government will repudiate Australia’s treaties and defence alliances. Of course, these are timeworn Liberal panic tactics to which we have become accustomed over many years. If the Prime Minister had quoted the relevant passages in the Labour Party’s platform and policy to which he referred he would, of course, have destroyed his own bogey man. Because the Government always must have a bogy man he did not quote what the Labour Party’s policy shows. The opportunity to do so is most welcome because quotations from the policy will show that the Labour Party is most specific and definite in maintaining Australia’s alliances and defence commitments. In fact, the Labour Party’s policy in this respect is in the sharpest contrast to the vacillating and vague statements on these issues that pass for defence and foreign policies in the Liberal Party document. The platform of the Labour Party sets out a series of propositions clearly and unmistakably. It says that while ever the Commonwealth of Nations continues to exist Australia must always remain an integral part of it. It lays down that co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained. It declares that the defensive alliance with the United States of America and New Zealand, referred to as A.N.Z.U.S., is essential and must continue. While pointing out that the South East Asia Treaty Organisation is ineffective it emphasises that -
Australia should not withdraw from S.E.A.T.O. until adequate arrangements are made for new treaties.
This is the very basis of Labour Party thinking which holds, as expressed in the platform, that -
This is the practice of all civilised governments. Setting the matter beyond all possible doubt, the defence platform of the Labour Party provides for - and again 1 quote -
The development by negotiation of a regional defence system of United Nations Member States within the South East Asia and Indian subcontinental areas for mutual defence, consistent wilh the requirements of the United Nations charter, and not inconsistent with the general provisions of Australia’s existing defence treaty commitments.
What statement could be plainer, clearer or more definite? Here, I suggest, is a statement on defence and foreign policy which is entirely acceptable to every true Australian, irrespective of his politics. The Liberal Party might well wish that it had anything half as good to offer. But then, of course, the Liberal Party is not an Australian Party because its policy must be such as to meet the dictates of the overseas and foreign financial interests which effectively control the Liberal Party at every level. The Prime Minister has, even though unwittingly, allowed the real facts of this matter to be publicised.
It is obvious that the Government is relying on public apathy to get away with conscription. It is true that there is still far too much apathy in Australia, but every day more people are rousing to the importance of the issues now at stake. This awakening of deep public concern is occurring on an increasingly wide scale in America - we see evidence or it every day - and it is beginning to grow strongly in Australia also. Government members fortify themselves by reading conscriptionist editorials in some metropolitan dailies. I say “ some “ because it is to the credit of the Press that some journals have expressed the greatest misgivings at the Government’s action on conscription. It is well to remember that, no matter how large a newspaper’s circulation, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of copies are sold, the majestic editorial “We” usually expresses the view of one man only - either the editor or the proprietor. It is well to remember also that in most metropolitan newspapers the actual leader writer is necessarily writing not his own opinions, but to order, and that his own views may be far different from those which he writes, at dictation, to persuade the readership of that newspaper.
Personally, I give thanks every day for the continued lively existence in Australia of a vigorous provincial Press in which an independent editor is not shut away from his readers but mingles with them every day in the town, and in which he writes his own leading article expressing his own forthright opinions. The other day, the “ CoomaMonaro Express”-
– An excellent paper.
– An excellent paper. I thank the honorable member. This journal, which is published in the capital of the great Snowy Mountains area, published an excellent leading article on conscription, from which I shall quote some passages. I emphasise that this is not a Labour newspaper and that it is not opposed to the war in Vietnam. It cannot be regarded as tn anti-Government journal. I quote this from the editorial -
The men of the Regular Army are volunteers. They are professional soldiers who have trained in nearly every sort of warfare over a period of several years - not like the conscripts who are forced into training for only one year.
The Government takes the two best and important years of a conscript’s life and fate is the only thing that makes tho decision when the barrel rolls.
A conscript - a young man whose name is picked by a marble coinciding with the day on which he was born, and a man who could find his birthdays are ended by a sniper’s bullet in the jungles of Vietnam.
If he survives that sniper’s bullet, booby trap, mortar bomb and the other sinister weapons being used in the “ dirty war “, the conscript comes back to a civilian world which has left him two years behind.
Thousands of Australian men will be left behind in their careers, in their social life and in their thinking while the lucky man who laughed at fate and was not conscripted earns a high income, has many social and family lies and is capable of thinking with the times.
I think that is a complete condemnation of the Government’s failure, in a situation which it proclaims to be of the utmost war danger to this country, to take action in Australia comparable to the action with which it is forcing conscripted youths to go to Vietnam.
The very idea of conscription for Vietnam is, of course, hateful - the idea that you transport a youth against his will to a foreign country and then force him to kill the people of that country or bs killed by them. You can hardly think of a more hateful idea than that. In extreme national danger, when the preservation of the State becomes the highest good and all other considerations of human conduct must be subordinated to the preservation of the State, then conscription may be necessary for that supreme purpose. But in recent days I have watched Government members scurrying for cover on this issue with the cry that a Labour government, in World War II, also imposed conscription; that this Government is justified in doing it because the Labour Government did it during World War II. There is no hiding place for any of them there. In World War II the condition precedent to the extension of the area of conscript service for Australia’s defence was that the military forces of Japan were on the point of invading this country; that it was an hour of supreme peril and that - this is the point - the whole of the resources of Australia, the whole of them, manpower and material alike, were mobilised, by Government decree, to resist that peril.
– Vastly different.
– There is not the slightest parallel in the present situation. There is no imminent invasion and there has been no total mobilisation of Australian resources, or anything faintly resembling it.
Far from requiring a total mobilisation, the Government’s view is that there is no immediate threat to Australia. That is the real view of every honorable member on the Government side. They all have the view that there is no immediate threat to Australia, no present threat to our sovereign independence, although there may be a long term threat. In a situation in which the Government proclaims, through its Minister for External Affairs, that there is no immediate threat to Australia but possibly only a long term threat, the Government conscripts Australian youths, but at the same time finds justification for taking no other action to mobilise Australia’s resources.
The other day, General Maxwell Taylor, special adviser to President Johnson, gave an address at West Point, New York, in which he said -
We must realise that military force can hardly bc expected to bring about the unconditional surrender of the Vietcong. Nor is the destruction of North Vietnam a likely or even desirable objective for our military efforts.
A very fine statement expressing very fine sentiments. General Taylor proceeded to quote a Greek historian - I have never heard of him - named Polybius, who, he said, lived over 100 years before Christ. The quotation was this -
It is not the object of war to annihilate those who have given provocation for it but to cause them to mend their ways.
General Taylor said that this described the American objective in Vietnam. All I would say is that, no matter how high-minded our objective, our actions must speak louder to the Vietcong and to the North Vietnamese than do our words. If we are not trying to destroy the enemy, we are giving a pretty effective imitation of it. Our actions are speaking loud indeed as we rain high explosives not only on strategic objectives but, in North Vietnam and South Vietnam alike, on the dams that water the peasants’ rice crops and on every place where Vietcong or Vietcong sympathisers and their families may be stationed, even to the destruction of whole peaceful villages - of course, after a timely warning to flee from their homes has been given, if possible. Our actions speak louder than words when we employ the naming fury of napalm to sear the bodies of Vietnamese guerrillas and of any of their friends or families who may get in the way with them. And our actions speak loud indeed when we now employ chemicals to spray and poison the rice crops in areas of South Vietnam controlled by the Vietcong so that they will be starved into submission, and the civilian population starved incidentally in the process also.
Are we then persuading the Vietcong and the Vietnamese people generally to mend their ways and be friendly to us instead of hostile? The indications are that we are not. No people of a comparatively small and backward country could continue to resist the immense military might of America unless they were imbued with a spirit of heroism and of sacrifice, and of belief in the justice of their cause. However mistaken their belief may be in our eyes, yet it is clear that they see the Saigon Government as a reactionary and tyrannical government which is maintained in power only by the force of white imperialism just as we are encouraged to view the Vietcong as simply the tools and agents of Chinese imperialism. At least we can all agree, when we remember the struggle that has proceeded in Vietnam now almost continually for 20 years, with the words of Bernard Fall, that the Vietnamese are a people with admirable qualities of frugality, incredible endurance, patience in the face of unavoidable adversity, and deep love for their wartorn homeland. They have indeed earned the right to decide the future of that homeland free from any intervention from outside Vietnam.
There is much evidence today of the spread of hatred both in Australia and in Vietnam and in the surrounding countries of Asia. Not only are the Australian people being mass conditioned into hatred of Asians - and they are today. for political purposes, being mass conditioned into hatred and fear of Asians - but wc are sowing a heritage of Asian hatred for us.
– We are sowing the wind.
– I agree with the honorable member for Wilmot. There must come a day of reconciliation and I am impressed by an idea for such a day which has been put forward by the Reverend W. E. Weston, who is the Anglican Minister in Queanbeyan. He has put this idea to the United Nations Organisation and has received a reply from U Thant expressing interest in it and suggesting that it should be introduced to the United
Nations through the Australian representative. In the hope that the Government will be moved to action on these lines, I shall read his proposal and commend it to the Government. Mr. Weston explains that the purpose of the Day of Reconciliation would be-
In my final minutes I put these considerations to the House. The effect of Western actions in Vietnam has been to drive all opponents of the oppressive Saigon regime into the Communist camp. We have increased the strength of the Communist forces in Vietnam. Even today 75 per cent, of the Vietcong forces are made up of indigenous South Vietnamese, many of whom were genuine nationalists opposed to the Saigon regime but who now, of course, have come under Communist influence. More Asian Communists are being made today by Western bullets than are being killed by those bullets. The stated object of preventing South Vietnam going Communist can only be guaranteed by the continued use of military force to prevent it. If you are determined to prevent South Vietnam from going Communist the only way to guarantee this objective is to keep military forces there and to keep them occupied against the enemies of the Saigon Government. But this is inconsistent with the other stated aim of the Government of allowing the Vietnamese people a free hand to decide their future. It is in this state of vagueness and indecision that our men are being killed in Vietnam without any clear statement of our objective. We are alarmed that Vietnam may become subject to China - so we should be - but every intensification of the conflict is increasingly pushing the Vietnamese into that subjection despite their historical fear and distrust of China.
The best that we can hope for after this conflict is a united Vietnam which will cultivate relations with the Soviet Union rather than with China and practice coexistence with the West. The longer the conflict continues the less that prospect will be and the more the military and political aims of China will be advanced. The present conflict in Vietnam began basically as an uprising of South Vietnamese forces to overthrow a repressive Saigon Government. Today we are not fighting in Vietnam to save Australia from a Vietcong invasion. We are fighting in Vietnam to save the military government established in Saigon. There is no present military danger to Australia and the conscription of Australian youth to fight in Vietnam is unjustifiable on any consideration.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), in taking advantage of the courtesy extended to him by the House to permit him to speak for unlimited time tonight, has made a crude and contemptible appeal to emotion which does him and the Australian Labour Party no credit at all. if he really sees international events in such crude and uncomplicated terms as he has indicated and if his statement that we have not laid down the conditions for negotiations indicates the level of argument that he uses, then God help us if he ever has anything to do with the formulation of foreign policy in Australia. He knows as well as 1 do, and as well as every honorable member in this House knows, that we have not clearly defined the conditions of negotiation because there are no conditions. We have called for unconditional negotiations. It is North Vietnam and Communist China who have laid down conditions - conditions which are impossible to accept. After listening to the honorable member’s speech tonight I came to the conclusion that the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party showed great perception when it heaved him off his Party’s Foreign Affairs Committee and replaced him with the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). It showed great perception indeed. At least the honorable member for Yarra has some intellectual integrity and some honesty of purpose of which qualities t’he honorable member for Eden-Monaro exhibited absolutely and precisely none tonight. I will have more to say about some of the points touched on by the honorable member for EdenMonaro as I proceed.
I would like to make reference to the s’.a ement that we are debating, made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro so utterly misrepresented tonight. This statement by the Minister for External Affairs was one of a remarkable scries of statements made by the present Minister since he took office. They are remarkable not so much because they recount the day to day international events which are the raw material of foreign policy - though he has done that - they are remarkable because he has used his powerful intellect and formidable experience to analyse and expand with great lucidity and insight the underlying forces which determine the course of present day international politics. He has done that in a way which has made it possible for him to lay down clearly and realistically the principles and guide lines by which we can interpret day to day events and produce a foreign policy which is in the best interests of this country. The Minister has not been deterred by the fact that in some quarters - those of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro clearly - it is regarded as dirty tactics to lay bare the facts of power and to make it clear that power is still the determining factor in international politics so that any policy which fails to take account of it is doomed to disaster. In particular, he made the point in his statement that the power and practices of China are the dominating factors for the interpretation of events in present day Asia and South-East Asia. Any conclusion about the Vietnam war for instance - to take one issue which is currently exercising the minds of many people - is bound to be erroneous if it fails to take account of China, Chinese power, Chinese practices and Chinese activities.
The Minister has been abused for emphasising the fundamental importance of
China. The honorable member for EdenMonaro joined the chorus tonight. “The Minister has a strange obsession with China “ sneered one newspaper which I read recently. This appeared in one of the leading articles which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro despises. “The Government is trying to frighten people with the bogy of China “, is a parrot cry of the Opposition. This was emphasised again and again by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro tonight. “ If the Government thinks China is so dangerous why does it not declare war on her?” That, specifically, was a phrase of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) but it was paraphrased by the honorable member for EdenMonaro. That was the incredible, irresponsible jibe of the Leader of the Opposition. The clear implication of this approach is that we have little to worry about, and this sort of evidence could be multiplied many times. It comes in many forms, but a clear thread running through it all is that the Government is just trying to frighten people when it stresses the importance of Chinese power and action and when it frames a foreign policy and a defence policy which take Chinese power and action into account.
Just because honorable gentlemen opposite refuse to recognise the menace to the security of this country from Chinese power and policies for reasons to which I will return later, does this mean that those dangers do not exist and that they should not be faced squarely and resolutely in framing policy? One of the most incredible things about opinion in this country today is the way well meaning people - and I say “ well meaning “ deliberately, because there are other people, the Communists and their friends in particular, who have an interest in playing down and obscuring the all pervading nature of Chinese power and its relationship to Australia - apparently refuse to believe the evidence of their eyes and ears on this issue. The way in which they refuse to take note of event after event and of evidence piled on evidence, and to draw the appropriate conclusions, is unbelievable.
Sir, let me refer to some of these events and to some of this evidence - events and evidence which point to the all pervading nature of Chinese power and its significance for this country. There was the Chinese intervention in the Korean war. There was the successful Chinese rape of little Tibet. There was the ruthless and unprovoked attack on democratic India. China is, and has been, actively organising, supporting and succouring the overthrow of established independent governments in Laos, in Thailand, in Indonesia, in Malaya and in South Vietnam, just to mention a few countries in Asia without reference to Africa and Latin America, where Chinese influence has become so evident lately. There is the provision by China of arms on an ever increasing scale to the Vietcong - and I have seen these literally with my own eyes in tens of thousands. China is, through De Doan, the First Secretary of the Communist Party in North Vietnam, strengthening the hand of those who refuse to negotiate against those who would like to do so before their country is completely razed to ruins. Are not these people aware of the great schism on the question of peaceful coexistence between Russia and China. Are they not aware that what this great schism means is a flat rejection by China of the rules of peaceful coexistence, the most elementary of which is to refrain from the use of force or the threat of it in the internal affairs of other countries? Are they aware that not only has China rejected the concept of peaceful coexistence but that the leaders of China by the spoken and written word and by their actions, espouse as an article of faith and policy actions which are the very opposite of peaceful coexistence?
Sir, have honorable gentlemen opposite, who are concerned to minimise the dangers of China, as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro tried to do tonight, read the remarkable article which has been referred to in this House by a number of my colleagues. It was written by Lin Piao, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Minister for Defence and Vice Premier and titled “ Long Live the People’s War”. If they have not read this article they should do so. It should be required reading for every Australian, certainly for every member of the Opposition who is attempting to minimise the influence of China in this area. In this article the author spells out, in phrases which a child could not misunderstand, the fanatical devotion of China’s leaders to the use of force as the midwife of progress. He glorifies in Chinese power. He proclaims
China’s mission to foment in every way possible, by force and by subversion, the Communist revolution in the underprivileged areas of the world, which means the area in which we are a part I have no time tonight to set out his detailed prescriptions, but they are there in the article for everybody who wants to read them. I have no time to mention them except to say that the course of the war in Vietnam follows these prescriptions laid down in this article in the minutest detail. Mr. Deputy Speaker, this article is not an academic exercise written by some professor for a learned journal. It is a deliberate statement of faith and policy, a prescription for action by one of the most powerful men in China, a man who before very long may well become the leader of China.
The activities of China in the postwar period which I have related are not some Jules Vernes fantasy, the product of an overactive imagination, as honorable gentlemen opposite try to suggest. They are facts. They are events which have been, and are, taking place. What conclusions can we draw? By any standard honorable members like to adopt China is an imperialist aggressor - an aggressor with the power and the will to extend her empire throughout South East Asia until it laps the shores of Australia. Do honorable gentlemen opposite deny that? Do they regard it with equanimity? Do they deny its relevance to the security of Australia?
– How many troops has China outside China?
– The honorable member for Wills can give us the answer when he speaks. China is no less an aggressor than was Nazi Germany. Indeed, because of her power, because of the philosophy she espouses and because of the technique she has developed for fomenting revolution and subversion, she is potentially a more dangerous aggressor. What do we do when we find a country starting on a path of aggression? There have been aggressors before. Do we take account of the lessons of history, or do we allow the aggressor to pick off his victims one by one until the whole world is in flames and the only way to save our country from destruction and subservience is to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of young men and years of peaceful progress? 1 utterly disagree with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that it just was not possible to stop Hitler and Nazi Germany. I have not the slightest shadow of a doubt, nor has any responsible historian today, that if at the time Hitler marched into the Rhineland or into Czechoslovakia, if the powers that eventually became the allies had, with resolution and firmness, been prepared to put small forces at risk at a time that was officially called peacetime, the Second World War would have been avoided. Oh yes, a few young men would have lost their lives, but their sacrifice would have saved tens or. thousands - nay, hundreds of thousands - of others. Who can doubt that in the post war period in Berlin, in Korea and in Malaya, firmness and resolution and the willingness to put relatively small forces at risk in each case avoided a much wider conflagration and the certainty of a much larger loss of life? Australians lost their lives in all these conflicts, but they lost them so that the overwhelming majority of Australians can live out their lives in peace.
The Western presence in the Vietnam conflict is no less an exercise in deterrence of aggression than it was in any other place. Its object is to make it plain to the aggressor that aggression does not pay, to make it plain at an early stage before it escalates to a point where ever-y country and everybody in those countries is involved, to make it plain that we are determined to create a world in which countries are free to choose their own form of government and social system without the threat of being overthrown by violence and subversion. To those who say, as the Leader of the Opposition has said: “ If China is so dangerous, why do you not declare war, why do you not bomb China, why do you not mobilise the nation, why do you not issue a clarion call to arms? “, I say that it is precisely to prevent the necessity for action of this sort that we and our allies are undertaking deterrent action in Vietnam. China is not an immediate physical threat to Australia. This has been made clear by the Government many times. Indeed, it has been seized on by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to justify the policy of his party of doing nothing, of withdrawing from South East Asia. But surely any government would be criminally negligent if, in order to avoid imposing burdens in the present, it put the future in pawn. That is what the Opposition is doing, and we on this side of the House will have none of it. The pattern of Chinese policy is there, plain for all who want to see. We have no desire to bomb China or to declare war on her, to take up the crude and irresponsible phrases of the Leader of the Opposition. Our policy, in concert with our allies, is by firmness, resolution and limited military commitment to persuade her to accept the rules of peaceful coexistence, because unless she does there may be some hope for us but there will be none for our children and their children. Surely we in this House have some obligation to them.
Where does the Opposition stand in this situation? In the guise of a sterile exercise in semantics as to whether we are at war or not - were we at war in Berlin, in Korea, in Malaya? - the Opposition would withdraw our troops from Vietnam and would be happy to see United States troops go. This, of course, would give the country to the Communists. Presumably the same attitude would be taken when the spotlight turns on Thailand and the other countries of South East Asia. In the guise of an emotional appeal based on the possible risk of committing a small force of Australians in Vietnam, Opposition members seek to persuade the Australian public that they should be withdrawn or not go there at all. What a curious argument. Presumably they would agree that it is right to demand that young Australians serve their country after a world war has broken out and the lives of millions are involved. But it is not right, they say, when war has not been declared to demand that a small number serve their country to ensure that the conflict will not escalate to the point where millions are involved. I say this is nonsense.
If it is fair, equitable and reasonable and in accordance with the dictates of morality to require a proportion of Australian citizens to serve overseas in a world wide conflict, it is equally fair, equally equitable-, equally reasonable and equally in accordance with the dictates of morality to require a smaller proportion of citizens to serve in limited operations designed to prevent a world wide conflict breaking out. It is not only fair, equitable and morally right to do this; it is, I would have thought, in accordance with the dictates of prudence and common sense. I say to the Opposition quite deliberately that, given the nature of Chinese power and international Communism, by seeking to persuade the Australian public that we and the United States should not have limited forces in Vietnam, it is quite callously and no doubt for short term political advantage putting the lives not of a few but of millions of Australians at risk at some time in the future.
.- Tonight, in resuming the debate on this subject, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), in a very cool and calm speech, placed on record the views of the Opposition, just as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), in making his statement at the commencement of the debate, put on record the views of the Government. 1 think the Parliament is indebted to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for his speech tonight. By contrast we have the speech of the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes). It is not hard to understand why he was sacked from the position of Minister for the Army. It is not hard to recall the leading articles in the Adelaide “ News “ and the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “. They said that the Government shifted him from that post because he had been so unsuccessful and had placed him in charge of health. God help health if he can deal no better with that than he did with the Army.
The Minister for Health went to great pains to attack the Opposition. He accused us of not knowing the danger of China. He said that the Opposition played down the Chinese programme and refused to accept the evidence. He spoke about the Korean war and the invasion of Tibet. He said that the Chinese attacked India, a Commonwealth country. But he did not tell us that when we sell our wheat to the Chinese Communist Government we give it better credit terms than we give to any Commonwealth country. So he is inconsistent on that point. He said that, with his own eyes, he saw the evidence of Chinese arms in Vietnam. He spoke about the Chinese imperialist march and said that China’s expanding empire would lap the shores of Australia. He said he saw with his own eyes the weapons supplied by China to the Vietcong. What has he done to take up with his Government the question of trade with China, the country which he says is threatening us and which is marching forward towards us?
– Does the honorable member think it is?
– Never mind what I think. The Minister said that with his own eyes he saw these weapons. I agree, because just recently the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marshal Chen, said-
China is helping North Vietnam and the Vietcong by sending grain, textiles and weapons of war.
Marshal Chen, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs boasts that China is helping the forces which are opposing Australian troops and which shortly will be opposing conscripts, national service boys 20 years of age. So our soldiers will be facing an enemy who may well be fed on Australian grain, clothed in uniforms made from Australian wool and armed with weapons which, if we are to believe the Minister for the Army, probably have been manufactured from the metals that this Government has sold to Communist China. The Minister for Health has accused the Opposition of not paying attention to the threat of China. If China is such a threat and is making an onward march, what does he say to his own Government and to the members of the Australian Country Party who are supplying the sinews of war? He said that China succoured and aided sections of the people in various countries of Asia and Africa to enable them to overthrow their governments, but the Holt Government is giving succour and aid through the agency of China to the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, not only to fight the South Vietnamese and the American forces but also to fight and destroy Australian servicemen. That is what the Minister for Health should be concerned about instead of making personal attacks upon the Australian Labour Party and the Opposition. He should be attacking the Government. He cannot have it both ways. If China is the enemy, why does he not face up to that and do something about it? At the present time it is not the Opposition that is on trial; it is the Holt Government.
It will be a very good thing when the people of Australia have an opportunity to decide and to give judgment, whether by referendum or at an election, on this question of sending young boys overseas. It is interesting to note that Australia has a Regular Army of a little more than 30,000 men who have volunteered to serve and to fight wherever they are posted, but to obtain 4,500 men for service in Vietnam it is necessary to conscript national service trainees. It is remarkable to see the number of rejections among volunteers to the Australian Regular Army. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) told us a few days ago that the standards required for the Regular Army are very high. I asked by interjection whether the same standard applied to national service trainees and he replied that it did. The former Minister for the Army, who is now the Minister for Health, said the same.
Recently I had brought to my notice the case of a young lad who was anxious to join up and who had attempted to enlist in the Australian Regular Army. After his interview it was discovered - he had made no bones about it - that he had a few criminal convictions. His application was rejected. That is fair enough, if the authorities thought that his criminal record was such that he should not be in the Army, but a little later he found that he could be accepted for national service training. Apart from his criminal record he meets all the standards required, so he will go into one of the divisions with the Regular Army. Although he could not be accepted as a volunteer, he can be conscripted. Recently I brought another case to the notice of the Minister. On this occasion it was a lad who was anxious to play bis part in the Citizen Military Forces. He tried to enlist but was rejected on medical grounds because of a leg disability. But later his marble came out and, lo and behold, although he was medically unfit for the C.M.F.-
– As a volunteer.
– As a volunteer, he was fit to undertake national service training. There is something wrong when this situation can occur. I suggest to the Minister for the Army that he should investigate recruitment into the Regular Army.
– Has the honorable member supplied me with the name of this person?
– Yes. I have written to the Minister for the Army and also to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury). I wrote to both Ministers because I di’d not know who dealt with the matter first, whether the doctor for the Department of Labour and National Ser vice would decide that the lad was fit and then pass him on to the Army authorities. The two Ministers will have to sort it out for themselves. That lad wanted to play his part. He is not complaining because he was accepted for national service training, but it seems strange that although the C.M.F. did not want him because he was medically unfit, he is fit enough to be called up as a national service trainee.
The nation is entitled to know what the position is in Vietnam. We have been told that technically we are at war. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) says that we are not at war but that we are technically at war. The former Prime Minister said in London at one stage that we were at war, but then he came back to the view that we were technically at war. The Minister for Health tonight spoke of the war in Vietnam, and the Minister for External Affairs spoke in his statement of the possibility of global war. He said -
This is a war that affects the fate of all countries of South East Asia - a war that throws into sharp relief the aim of Communist China to dominate them by force.
He spoke of the character of the war in Vietnam and also of the military and semimilitary supplies from Communist China. I have mentioned already trade with Communist China. There is a war in Vietnam. I am sure that the national service conscripts will think it is a war when they arrive in Vietnam. I wonder whether these lads will have had sufficient training after a mere 12 months. I read of a case in Western Australia where it was complained that servicemen were not given even 12 months’ training before receiving their marching orders. But suppose they were given 12 months’ training. Is that enough? This war is different from wars in the past. I wonder whether we are not taking lads from industry, or from wherever they may come, throwing them into the divisions of the Regular Army and sending them off to Vietnam before they are adequately trained. In the first place I believe that we have no right to conscript them. I feel that if the people of Australia have a chance to make a decision on this question they will show their opposition to the Government’s action.
At the weekend the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) spoke about a fifth column in Australia. This morning I was pleased to hear on the radio Mr. Eric Baume, a gentleman who very rarely agrees with anything said by the Labour Party, although I have heard him do so on two occasions now, take to task the Minister for Defence for describing as fifth columnists those people who were opposed to national service trainees being sent to Vietnam. Mr. Baume said that whilst he supported Australia’s participation in the Vietnam war, he was opposed to the action of the Government in . conscripting boys of 19 years to fight overseas. He rightly attacked the Minister for Defence. The views expressed by Mr. Baume are views which are gradually permeating throughout the length and breadth of this nation. The people of Australia are opposed to sending these boys overseas to face an enemy which is possibly equipped with weapons of war made from materials sold to them by this Government. They are sent not only to serve in a foreign land but also, if the war escalates, as it well could, they could die in Vietnam. The people have a right to voice an opinion on that. The coming by-election in Kooyong, I believe, will show some trend in the people’s thinking. But if the Government wants to know what the people of Australia think, let it hold an early election and not wait until the end of the year. We on this side are prepared. It is not the Australian Labour Party that is on trial; it is the Holt Government. It has to answer not only for sending boys away to fight but also for trading with a country that it describes as our enemy. The present Minister for Health, who was formerly Minister for the Army, spent 20 minutes tonight telling us that Communist China is the real enemy. This Government has to explain to the people why it trades with this country that is considered to be our enemy.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, before my time runs out I would like to mention briefly the Asian Development Bank, on which the Minister for External Affairs touched in his statement. Australia has played some part in the formation of this Bank and the Minister last December took part in the conference at Manila that approved its Articles of Agreement and finally ratified its formation. The establishment of this Bank is a project to be applauded. This is a United Nations project that will give the Asian countries a chance to stand on their own feet. I believe that the target for contributions to the capital of the Bank was set at some $US600 million. It has been over subscribed by SUS42 million. When the formation of the Bank was proposed, many people said: “The required capital will not be obtained from the Asian countries. They will ask that all of it come from other countries.” The Asian regional members provided a major part of the capital of the Bank. The non-regional members, of which the United States of America was the main contributor, subscribed SUS296 million. It is pleasing to note that the Australian Government intends to contribute SUS85 million to the Bank’s working capital.
The establishment of the Asian Development Bank will allow the countries of Asia and other countries to work together in a common task. Projects will be jointly undertaken by a multitude of countries all pooling their resources to promote real development programmes in the countries of Asia. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am disturbed about one matter. Following on from the Manila conference, the Japanese Government has sponsored a meeting of all Foreign Ministers of the countries concerned to be held in Tokyo in April. This widely representative gathering will carry on the work begun at the Manila conference. However, the Australian Government up to this stage has not intimated that it will be represented. I believe that it should be. I consider that we should take part in any move to help develop the countries of Asia. Japan is playing a major part in the development of Asian countries. Australia is part of Asia. This Government wants to send troops to fight in Asia. It ought to do more than merely subscribe to the capital of the Asian Development Bank. It ought to see that it is represented at every conference that will promote the development of the underdeveloped and underprivileged countries of Asia.
I trust that this debate will clarify the position with respect to the use of conscripts in Vietnam. I suggest that those people who are demonstrating throughout Australia on this issue perhaps save some of their energy and use it in campaigning to defeat the Holt Government at election time. It is only by the use of the ballot box that the people can right the wrongs that are being inflicted on the youth of this nation. I invite those throughout Australia who are rightly concerned about the sending of good’ young Australians overseas to fight, and perhaps to die, to come forward and help campaign in every way possible to sweep from office the Holt Government, which aids and abets Communist China and helps to feed, clothe and equip the armies of the Vietcong to fight and kill Australian servicemen.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), when he said that we cannot change Australia’s geographical situation and we cannot cancel out the great forces that are bringing massive changes in the world today, particularly in the southern half of Asia, gave a descriptive picture of the situation. If we study the situation in South East Asia today in a calm, collected and unprejudiced way, we must conclude that we cannot isolate ourselves from it, because it is part of a pattern that has been gradually unfolding itself before the world for the last century. This pattern has gained tremendous momentum in the last generation. Therefore, we delude ourselves if we examine the position in South East Asia in isolation. A careful appreciation of the whole situation there, with the restoration of the territorial integrity and political independence of South Vietnam as our object, will reveal many indirect links over long periods.
Since Marx expounded his theory of the political control of the means of production, distribution and exchange, totalitarianism has had many titles. Communism, Marxism, Fascism all add up to exactly the same thing - the suppression of the masses and the abolition of the rights of the individual by a small group of rulers who are answerable only to a few. It is true that a country’s politics are to a great extent its own affair. But when attempts are made, and continue to be made, to thrust any system on other nations, small or large, such tactics must be resisted or we must accept the risks attendant on political servility. No doubt, some form of complete national organisation may have suited some countries. But civilised communities can never condone the ruthless methods applied in most instances. We see in the world today three shades of Communism. Several Eastern European countries are displaying what might be termed National Socialism, with some degree of evidence of rust in the Iron Curtain. Russia, having advanced from guerrilla warfare, now wields great military and economic strength and at any rate professes to believe in a form of peaceful co-existence based on an attempt to communise the world by example - by cunning rather than by force. Lenin said -
First we take East Europe then Asia and Africa, then we will encircle the United States of America, the last bastion of capitalism. We will not have to attack. It will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.
However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, China, on her own evidence, does not believe in these methods. This evidence is available for everybody to read. Mao Tse-tung has stated repeatedly that 200 million Chinese would not be too high a price to pay for Communism to dominate the world and that the only way to negotiate is looking down the barrel of a gun. It is interesting to recall that aggressive statements and actions have gone unheeded before. Prior to 1914, the statements of the Germans were virtually disregarded. Though war might not have been averted, it might have been delayed. Likewise, Hitler, in his book “Mein Kampf”, wrote of his intentions of world conquest and the methods by which he would achieve it. But his warning went entirely unheeded. Had this not been so, the Second World War might have been avoided. Lack of preparedness and the underestimating of threats created situations that should never have occurred.
Is there any tangible, evidence that the Chinese have aggressive intentions? There is a good deal of evidence to show that they have. China has the greatest length of border in dispute between two countries along the border with Russia to her north. She has a fear of Japan to the east. So she has turned elsewhere. In Korea we saw the first of China’s more recent acts of aggression. In that instance China was making a thrust at Japan. If it had succeeded we would have seen the resources of China linked with the industrial potential of Japan. Then there was a concerted effort to capture Taiwan. This was repulsed largely by a little-recognised effort on the part of the Nationalist Chinese Air Force. If Communist China had succeeded on that occasion she would have gained control of one of Japan’s main trade routes. Her failure to persuade Russia to embark on nuclear war then left China with a drive south as the only remaining avenue. Thus we saw the subjection of the Tibetan people as a prelude to the invasion of India which, if it bad succeeded, would have given Chi&a a commanding strategic position. However, this also failed, hence her anxiety to control South Vietnam by force or subversion, as this would give control of the South West Pacific area and the South China Sea.
We have only to look a: a map of the area to see how wisely these moves have been thought out. China may not be the open aggressor in this situation but she is the master mind behind it. It is interesting to note that Mao Tse-tung wrote a text book on guerrilla warfare under the title “ Yu Chi Ghan “. All the theories outlined in it are based on previously performed acts of psychological warfare and disruption of the economy and society of a nation. His four principles for guerrilla warfare are: Infiltration from a secure base in a neighbouring country; retreat and dispersal when attacked; harassment of local forces - from every quarter - when they rest and attack when they are exhausted; and pursuit when the locals break and flee.
The question will be asked: “ Why trade with China?” Well in a complex commercial world there is no way of stopping two countries trading with one another. I am happy to have the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) that we have ceased to export strategic metals to China. Is it seriously suggested that we can stop China buying wool on an open auction market? She could always buy what she wanted through agents. Is it seriously suggested that commodities do not reach China from America in Japanese ships?
– Did the honorable member apply this kind of reasoning to Germany and Italy?
– The honorable member knows quite well that this is so. Goods are sent from America in Japanese ships and they reach China without ever having been taken out of the ships’ holds.
As far as the export of wheat is concerned there is a moral issue involved, but the fact is that wheat is readily obtainable from elsewhere, and our refusal to sell wheat to China would cause no more than a minor dislocation of her commerce. In fact, we have never sold to China wheat that has attracted the bounty to bring its price up to the home consumption price. That has been true in every year in which we have sold wheat to China. The dislocation of Australia’s commerce that would result from our interfering in any serious way with the movement of commodities that bring in 50 per cent, of our export income would inconvenience us to a very great extent, and this would far outweigh any benefits that China might gain from receiving our goods.
We have no quarrel with the Chinese people, 79/80ths of whom are not Communists, but only with their militant leaders who have expansionist ambitions. Can the Communist forces be halted or can their bluff be called? There are many instances of this having been done. We have only to think of the Berlin airlift and the Korean campaign to which I have just referred. Then there was the affair of the Cuban missile bases. There was the rising in Italy just after the war and there was the conflict in Greece between 1945 and 1949 in which a million people were killed by Communists before the trouble was finally settled. We can also recall the trouble with Communists in Turkey and the campaign against guerrillas in Malaysia. There is ample evidence that where sufficient strength of will is shown the Communists will take another look at the situation.
This Vietnamese conflict was intensifying for more than five years during which the United States continuously sought settlement. It must not be forgotten that we and the United States are in this conflict at the request of a protocol State. It has been asked many times, and quite rightly, whether we as Australians wish to be known as people who abide by a contract only when the going is easy. America and Australia have entered this conflict with no idea of gain either militarily or territorially, but in an endeavour to localise hostilities - not to win a war but to prove that force cannot prevail. Can anybody seriously suggest that the dominance of Communism in South Vietnam would not bring about a wider conflict? It has been said, and I agree, that Laos, Cambodia and Thailand would fall quickly - the domino theory. But had South Vietnam fallen, as it would have done if the United States had not used its strength to prevent this happening, there would have been a leapfrog movement to Indonesia, because great impetus would have been given to the Communist forces in Indonesia and the anti-Communist forces would have experienced a reduction of practical and moral backing. Few people realise how narrowly the Indonesian coup failed in October. It failed probably because of two instances of mistaken identity. A dagger was thrust into the back of the wrong man, a man who was believed to be Suharto. Had he been with the other 10 generals who were murdered he would have suffered a like fate. The other instance of mistaken identity was when a member of the staff of General Nasution had the courage to go out in Nasution’s uniform and be murdered in his stead, giving Nasution time to escape over a back fence. Had those two men not survived it is highly probable that a Communist regime would be in command in Indonesia at this moment, and Communist forces would have been in West Irian within 140 miles of Australian mainland territory, and within 70 miles of an unoccupied but unoccupiable small islet, Halfway Island.
In addition to giving military aid to South Vietnam Australia has also, over a very long period, given great financial and practical assistance. Many issues are confused in Vietnam today, but our future is far more closely linked than that of any other country with the necessity to have this area free of Communist aggression. We must therefore play our part because the crisis in Vietnam is a threat to our well being. We are meeting this threat by the means of contributing the minimum strength recommended, reinforced to a limited extend only by selective national servicemen. This has been done on the advice of our most expert advisers, and if their advice is not acceptable then I would like to know whose is.
There is one other matter to which I would like to refer and which has received a great deal of publicity in the last few days. It is the matter of demonstrations. I well recall that when I first joined the Army one of my commanders said to me: “ Mass demonstrations and mass punishments are things to be avoided at all times.” 1 do not suggest that any political party has anything to do with these demonstrations but there is a lot of evidence to show that they are inspired by Communist influences. Communists do not usually take part in them. They are far too shrewd for that. They organise them, however; they telephone people who take part in them as unwitting agents, posing as students.
– Give us the evidence.
– There is any amount of evidence. I wonder what this country is degenerating to when we see people carrying placards saying “ Make Love Not War “. This is a proposition that any decent Australian that I have had the privilege of commanding would shrink from accepting, because he would not be sure whether the person carrying the placard was a male or a female.
The matter of negotiating a settlement has been turned over and over. It was amply covered last Thursday by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) in the 14 points to which he referred. Those points are worth repeating. They are - 1. The Americans say that the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and 1961 are an adequate basis for peace in South East Asia. 2. They would welcome a conference on South East Asia or any part thereof. 3. They would welcome negotiations without preconditions, as the 17 nations put it. 4. They would welcome unconditional discussions, as President Johnson put it. 5. The Americans have said that a cessation of hostilities would be the first order of business at a conference, or could be the subject of preliminary discussions. 6. Hanoi’s four points could be discussed along with other points which others might wish to propose. 7. The Americans want no bases in South East Asia. 8. They do not desire to retain their troops in South Vietnam after peace is assured. 9. They support free elections in South Vietnam to give the South Vietnamese a government of their own choice. 10. The question of reunification of Vietnam should be determined by the Vietnamese through their own free decision. 11. The countries of South East Asia can be non-aligned or neutral if that is their option. 12. The Americans have said that they would much prefer to use their resources for the economic reconstruction of South East Asia than in war. If there was peace, North Vietnam could participate in a regional effort to which America would be prepared to contribute at least one billion dollars. 13. President Johnson has said: “ The Vietcong would not have difficulty in being represented and having their views represented if for a moment Hanoi decided she wanted to cease aggression. I do not think that would be an insurmountable problem.” 14. The Americans have said publicly and privately that they would stop the bombing of North Vietnam as a step towards peace, although there had not been up till that time the slightest hint or suggestion from the other side as to what it would do if the bombing stopped.
Although the national service trainees - call them what you will - may be sneered at, I say that they will be called upon to perform not only a national service but an international service in a situation that will have a tremendous effect on Australia for a long time to come. Let me repeat what Lord Shawcross, a former British Labour Attorney-General in the Attlee Government, said on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme. He said, inter alia -
The war in Vietnam is vital to world peace, regardless of what the lunatic fringe may say. I only wish the United Kingdom could give more active help in Vietnam. The struggle there is absolutely vital to the defence of the free world. If South Vietnam surrendered to the Communists now, Laos and Cambodia would be lost, and what then of Thailand, which is already infiltrated? If it fell to Communism, India would be outflanked, Singapore and Malaysia indefensible, and the Philippines, New Zealand and Australia out on a limb. All honour is due to the Australian soldiers and the Australian people for their part in this struggle.
.- The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) gave us a resume of the history of Communism from the time of Marx to the present day. He sees a conspiracy in Vietnam and, of course, in all of South East Asia. The great villain of the piece is China. But if honorable members study the history of Vietnam they will know that the Vietnamese have opposed Chinese oppression for 20 centuries. The Vietnamese people have struggled for peace and freedom for more than 100 years against the French, the Japanese and the French again. Now they are fighting against the
Americans. The honorable member for Riverina seems opposed to Communism everywhere. Does he not know that today the Communist Governments of Yugoslavia, Rumania and Poland are receiving economic aid from the United States, which is at the same time fighting the Vietcong or the Vietnamese people? This is a nationalist movement in Vietnam. It is a national struggle. The movement is as much anti-Chinese as it is anti-American, anti-Australian or antiFrench. It is pro- Vietnamese.
In his statement to the House on 10th March the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said -
Mr. Speaker, before we start debating what we are doing or what we ought to do in Australian foreign poli-y let us face plainly the fact that there are two things we cannot do. We cannot change Australia’s geographical situation and we cannot cancel out the great forces that are bringing massive changes in the world today and particularly in the southern half of Asia. We in Australia are living on the edge of a great upheaval both in human relations and in the ideas which influence the conduct of mankind. We cannot withdraw from this region and we cannot do anything to prevent the upheaval.
I agree with the Minister’s statements of fact but not with his conclusions. We are a people of European origin, living in Asia. We remain conservative members of a white man’s club. We continue our traditional ties in trade - the front line of our foreign policy - with the United Kingdom and the United States. We give those countries top trade concessions. We enter into very favorable double taxation agreements with them. But there has been no corresponding response on the part of those traditional friends. In the last 15 years we have been on the wrong side of the trading ledger with those countries to the tune of $7,860 million. Of that amount $4,146 million represents our trading deficit with the United Kingdom and $3,714 million our trading deficit with the United States. Our total trading deficit with all countries has been $4,712 million. Therefore we have had credits with countries other than the United Kingdom and the United States of $3,148 million. In the main, our favorable trading balances have been with the Asian countries of Japan and China.
I believe that Australia’s future will be interwoven with that of Asia, particularly South East Asia. Our trade policies should be directed towards this pattern. Economic, technical, social and educational aid should be increased to assist all countries of South East Asia. If expenditure on defence since 1950 is compared with expenditure under the Colombo Plan the negative aspects of our priorities will be noted. From 1950 to 30th June 1965 we spent $5,680 million on defence. Since its inception in 1951 we have spent about $120 million under the Colombo Plan. Our total aid to Asian countries under the Colombo Plan and by other gifts during this period would not exceed $200 million. These figures give a fair idea of our priorities - $200 million in economic aid on the one hand and more than $5,600 million on defence on the other hand.
Our voting record in the United Nations exposes our position. Our record compares with those of South Africa and Portugal. We rarely find ourselves aligned with our Asian neighbours. We do not express ourselves in the forums of the world as a progressive and independent nation. We are involved militarily in Vietnam’s civil war. We are the only partner of the United Slates of America in either the South East Asia Treaty Organisation or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliances - with the exception of New Zealand, which has supplied a few people - which is involved militarily in that conflict.
Australia should not involve herself militarily in the internal affairs of Asia. Our involvement should be economic, technical, social and educational. If the Government’s basic proposition is that Australia must make a contribution to the war in Vietnam so as to create an obligation upon the United States to assist Australia in the event of an attack, the sending of Australian troops to Vietnam is the most inequitable way of making that contribution. If Australia is to make a contribution it should make it equitably, and it cannot do so by sending Australian troops to Vietnam, because only a few men can be sent there, while the Australian people as a whole make no contribution at all. If a contribution is to be made equitably it must be made by all the people of Australia. In the circumstances of the war in Vietnam, if the Australian contribution is to be equitable it must be by way of economic aid financed equitably by taxation. 1 quote now from the United States “ Congressional Record “ portion of a speech that the late John F. Kennedy delivered, while a senator, to the United States Senate on 6th April 1954. He said -
The time has come for the American people to be told the blunt truth about Indo-China. . . Less than two weeks ago Admiral Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that “ the French are going to win “. Despite this series of optimistic reports about eventual victory, every member of the Senate knows that such victory today appears to be desperately remote, to say the least, despite tremendous amounts of economic and materia) aid from the United States … I am frankly of the belief that no amount of American military assistance in Indo-China can conquer an enemy which is everywhere and at the same lime nowhere - an enemy of the people which has the sympathy and covert support of the people. The time to study, to doubt, to review, and revise is now, for upon our decisions now may well rest the peace and security of the world, and, indeed, the very continued existence of mankind. For the United States to intervene unilaterally and to send troops into the most difficult terrain in the world, with the Chinese able to pour in unlimited manpower, would mean that we would face a situation which would be far more difficult than even that we encountered in Korea. It seems to me that it would be a hopeless situation.
They were the challenging words of the late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. As I said, he made the statement when he was a United States senator. Honorable members may ask: What relation has the late President’s statement with present-day conditions? Do the people of America and of Australia know the truth about Vietnam? We know that the French did not win, though Admiral Radford predicted they would. Is this a time to study, to doubt and to review our policies on Vietnam? Has the tremendous amount of economic and material aid from the United States improved conditions in South Vietnam? I do not believe it has.
I was in Saigon last October. 1. was informed by responsible persons that corruption was widespread. Economic aid was not flowing to the places that needed it most. One Australian with whom I discussed this matter admitted that he had observed a great increase in Mercedes Benz cars - the symbol of wealth - on Saigon’s already overcrowded streets. Land reform had not been carried out by the Diem Government or succeeding governments. In the coastal strip, where the bulk of the population resides, 30 per cent, of the peasants had no land, 65 per cent, had less than half an acre while 0.058 per cent, of the population held 10 per cent, of the land. It was estimated that in the provinces south and west of Saigon two out of three peasant families were landless and almost SO per cent, of the land was held by one-fifth of the population.
American Senator Mansfield, reporting on his recent mission to Vietnam in December 1965 to President Johnson and to the United States Senate - this report is published by the United States Information Service and is available to all honorable members in the Parliamentary Library - said -
The fact is that they are, as other Vietnamese governments have been over the past decade, at the beginning of a beginning in dealing with the problems of popular mobilisation in support of the government
Senator Mansfield, the majority leader in the United States Senate, expressed a similar view when he reported to President Kennedy on a previous visit to Vietnam in 1962. He found chaos, intrigue and widespread corruption. Despite United States aid of more than $US2,000 million between 1955 and 1962, they were at the beginning of a beginning. Since 1962 United States military and economic aid has been astronomical, yet they are still at the beginning of a beginning. I ask honorable members: When do they begin to carry our social, economic, political and land reforms in South Vietnam? The Diem Government and all succeeding governments have been corrupt military cliques. No elections have been held and no reforms have been carried out in South Vietnam. The present Prime Minister, Air Vice-Marshal Cao Ky, is a self admitted admirer of Adolf Hitler. Senator John F. Kennedy said that he was of the belief that no American military assistance in IndoChina “can conquer an enemy which is everwhere and at the same time nowhere - an enemy . . . which has the sympathy and convert support of the people “. Surely the late President’s words are as true today. How has the Vietcong been able to survive for so long - not only survive, but gain and progress its struggle against overwhelming odds? How could it survive if it did not draw from and live on the support of the people of South Vietnam? In his recent report Senator Mansfield stated -
Insofar as the military situation is concerned, the large scale introduction of United States forces and their entry into combat has blunted but not turned back the drive of the Vietcong. As a result the lines remain drawn in South Vietnam in substantially the same pattern as they were at the outset of the increased United States commitment.
We know that this commitment of United States forces has been increased to more than 200,000 land forces in South Vietnam. Also involved is the Seventh Fleet of the United States Navy and 10 squadrons of American bombers and fighters stationed in South Vietnam. Furthermore, B52 bombers are operating from Guam, bombing both North and South Vietnam. But of this great military increase Senator Mansfield states -
Despite the great increase in American military commitment it is doubtful in view of the acceleration of Vietcong efforts that the conscripted position now held in Vietnam by the Saigon Government can continue to be held for the indefinite future, let alone extended, without a further augmentation of American forces on the ground. Indeed, if present trends continue, there is no assurance as to what ultimate increase in American military commitment will be required before the conflict is terminated.
With the United States land forces numbering over 200,000 and the South Vietnamese Government’s forces numbering 635,000 according to the Mansfield report, there are doubts as to whether the position can be held. On 14th February 1966, Walter Lippmann published this in “ Newsweek “ - . . so reliable a military correspondent as Mr. Hanson Baldwin has for a long time been saying that an American Army of a million men would be needed to pacify and occupy South Vietnam.
Is this a time to study, to doubt, to review or to revise? Who is right? Hanson Baldwin said that one million men would be necessary, but this only for the purpose of pacifying and occupying South Vietnam. One might well ask: “ For how long would they occupy Vietnam, and at what cost?” Today the question is: What if the war is escalated? Many Government supporters have advocated this. They have suggested the mining of Haiphong Harbour and the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong. They have also suggested the bombing of the Delta dykes, which would mean the drowning of millions of peasants who actually live below water level. They have also advocated the denuclearisation of China. These proposals have all been supported by those in the Government and elsewhere who desire the escalation of the war in Vietnam. They argue that we should fight China now, not later.
What would be the consequences of such a step? The result would be a land war with China. The Korean war would be reopened, there would possibly be war with India, and China’s millions would be on the march. Could the United States gamble and use nuclear weapons? Would Russia stand by and allow this to happen? Mr. Speaker, I am not a gambler with money, let alone with the human race. We should ask: What can we do to prevent this tragedy? Every Australian should give thought to proposals that I shall now enumerate: Firstly, we should oppose this lunatic fringe which wants to escalate the Vietnam war. We should support those United States Senators and world leaders who have advocated a holding position. We should support the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. We should call for world pressure on both sides of the ideological struggle for peace negotiations. Compromises should be made on both sides. The South Vitenamese Government and the United States Government should be prepared to meet the conference table with the Vietcong. The Vietcong, North Vietnam, and China should be prepared to meet and negotiate before there is a withdrawal of United States forces and installations from Vietnam. There should be an undertaking that all foreign troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam as soon as possible after the order to cease fire. An international body such as a strengthened International Control Commission should be set up to safeguard the interests of all parties concerned. A coalition caretaker government should be set up with all sections represented, as was suggested recently by Senator Robert Kennedy. Economic aid could be provided from all nations of the world. After a given period, elections could be held in South Vietnam. Then, if the people of South Vietnam so desired, general elections for the whole of Vietnam could be held.
The Ky Government’s days are numbered. Now is the time for the Australian Government to act in a positive way by repealing the decision to send Australian Regular Army personnel, including volunteers and conscripts, to Vietnam. The presence of our forces in Vietnam will only aggravate an already delicate international crisis. Vietnam is a bottomless pit of human suffering.
Mr. CHIPP (Higinbotham) LI 0.1 4]. - In the concluding stages of his speech, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) used an unfortunate expression. It was unfortunate for him and his party that he should use the words “ lunatic fringe “ when referring to those of us - and we are legion in the world - who want to justify American, Australian and other intervention against Communism in Vietnam. Recently a very distinguished gentleman also used those two words. This distinguished gentleman described as a lunatic fringe those few people left in the world who opposed American and Australian intervention in Vietnam. This gentleman was none other than a former distinguished member of the British Labour Party, a former British Attorney-General, Lord Shawcross.
We in this House are accustomed to hearing from the honorable member for Reid speeches that have a ring of sincerity about them. We believe that, though misguided, they are sincere. But tonight 1 thought the honorable member for Reid made one of the most dishonest speeches that I have ever heard in this House. He tried, by innuendo and smear, to cast reflections, without producing one bit of evidence to support them. For example, he quoted Senator Mansfield - one United States Senator - at length in an endeavour to give this House and the listening audience the impression that the American people and the American Parliament were opposed to America’s participation in the war in Vietnam. But the honorable member knows about the vote that was taken on 1st March, just 28 days ago, in the American Congress. He knows that both the Senate and the House of Representatives were, in effect, voting on America’s continued participation in Vietnam when they were called upon to approve an appropriation of money for that purpose. In the United States Senate, out of 95 who voted, 93 voted for the American Administration’s policy. Only two United States Senators voted against it. In the House of Representatives, out of 396 voters, 392 were for the Administration’s policy and only 4 against it. Yet the honorable member for Reid, in a dishonest attempt to mislead the listening audience into believing that there was a considerable weight of opinion in the American Parliament against the Administration’s policy, quoted only one American Senator.
The honorable member then said again that he had been to Saigon and had seen the country with his own eyes. He asked a question which, if one did not know the position, would seem to be a reasonable question. He asked: “ How has the Vietcong survived for so long living off the people and with the people supporting it?” He knows as well as anybody - indeed, if he has been to Saigon, he should know better than most people - that in the last two years the Vietcong has tortured and slaughtered over 3,000 civilians. That is the sort of persuasion which the Vietcong has adopted to convert people to its particular way of thinking. I should have thought that one would not need to be a scholar to realise that if the people of South Vietnam supported the Vietcong, as the honorable member for Reid tried to suggest, it would hardly have been necessary for the Vietcong to murder and torture 3,000 civilians. I emphasise that this is not my figure; it is the figure quoted by an independent commission which investigated the situation there.
In the early 1930*s, there was a little German who told the world that he was about to conquer it. Nobody believed him. A little later, tragically, he became leader of his country, and he repeated his aim. Tragically again, too few people believed him. A little later on, as the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) has said this evening, he marched into the Rhineland with his forces. We did not try to s’op him. Then followed the war of 1939-45, which Sir Winston Churchill described as the unnecessary war. I would have thought that one would not need to be a student of history to understand the danger of giving way to a power hungry, indeed power mad, dictator.
In the 1920’s, a man called Lenin said something interesting in propounding and motivating this monstrous philosophy of Communism which every man on this side of the House despises and which too many people on the other side of the House seem to defend. He said -
Peaceful co-existence between Communism and other forms of Government is unthinkable.
If that does not mean in plain language that Lenin’s concept was that there can be no form of Government other than Communism, I do not know what it means.
Unfortunately, the philosophy of Marx and Lenin has been perpetuated with the present Communist Chinese regime. I quote now from the “ China Youth Journal “ of Peking, an official organ of the Chinese Government, which states -
Peaceful co-existence and mutual noninterference are impossible.
This is from the mouth of the Chinese Government. Yet we hear time and time again with remarkable consistency from the other side of the House that there is nothing wrong with China; that she is not predatory and that she has no designs at all. Lin Piao, Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, made a monstrous statement which I want to quote. I would have thought it would have been enough to shock the sensibilities of anybody who pretended to belong to the human race and anybody who believed in those principles which we hold dear. He said - . . The sacrifice of a small number of people in revolutionary wars is repaid by security lor whole nations, whole countries and even the whole of mankind; temporary suffering is repaid by lasting or even perpetual peace and happiness. War can temper the people and push history forward. In this sense, war is a great school.
I would like to dwell tonight particularly on just one aspect of this debate on foreign policy. Those of us on this side cf the House fully realise that the Government has made one of the most significant and provocative decisions for some time in calling up 20 year old males and requiring them to serve overseas. The fact that only one in 50 of the 80,000 young men who turn 20 in each year will serve in Vietnam does not lessen the importance of the principle involved. Vietnam and national service are being talked about everywhere, as all honorable members know. In a country whose people often say with some dubious pride that they are not terribly interested in politics, we have seen a transformation in that these two questions are being discussed everywhere. There is no doubt that a division exists among Australians on these two matters. This division has been activated and stimulated by the Australian Labour Party. This it would not deny. In fact it would proudly proclaim that it has been partly successful in doing this.
I would like to consider for a moment the international company in which the A.L.P. finds itself in adopting this stand of being diametrically opposed to halting Communist aggression in Vietnam. I find the A.L.P. in strange company. I do not find the British Labour Party in its corner. The British Labour Party, a socialist party, although thousands of miles away and not physically involved or geographically involved in the conflict in Vietnam, has come out with extraordinary strong statements supporting the view of the United States of America on Vietnam. I could quote Michael Stewart to the House. I have already mentioned what Lord Shawcross said. Yet members of the Australian Socialist Yet members of the Australian socialist party are diametrically opposed to the principles espoused by their socialist brothers in London. Of course, the British Conservative Party approves of the American plan. The New Zealand Government supports the action of the Americans and Australians in Vietnam and it is strange to see that the New Zealand Labour Party has an entirely different view to the A.L.P. on this question. In the United States there are two great political parties as we know. The Democrats, under President Johnson, have indicated by votes both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, that they are fully in favour of the policy in Vietnam. So are the Republicans. I suggest to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) that he read the speech of Mr. Richard M. Nixon - a magnificent speech of one hour in which he spent 35 minutes criticising the administration on domestic matters and 25 minutes thoroughly praising the administration for its involvement in Vietnam and its overseas policy. Would that we could get some sort of national policy in this Parliament.
Governments of 30 nations are supporting South Vietnam now in one way or another. In this country of ours, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said today, there are four political parties. The Liberal Party, the Country Party, and the Democratic Labour Party are emphatically supporting American policy and emphatically supporting our involvement in Vietnam. There is only one political party - and it is represented in this House - out of all parties throughout the world which is bitterly and diametrically opposed to halting Communist aggression in Vietnam. That party, sadly, is the once great A.L.P. Because :the Labour Party is the only one which has this view it does not necessarily mean to a logical person that it is wrong. But the logical person who is listening to this debate has to ask himself: “Isn’t it strange that the A.L.P. policy is so different to everybody else’s policy?” Why, then, do Australians find themselves in this dilemma at the moment? There is no doubt that any political party has a loyal core of supporters and because the Federal Executive of the Labour Party has adopted this position it will automatically draw with it a great number of people who normally vote for it. But I believe that the basic reason for this dilemma in the minds of many people is that members of the Australian Labour Party, particularly members such as the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), Senator Cavanagh and Senator Cohen, are clever enough to know how to play on the emotional heartstrings of Australian motherhood and are saying to Australians what those Australians want to hear.
We fully realise on the Government side of the House that it is perfectly natural for a parent who has a male child in the age of involvement to become personally concerned over this tremendous question. This is something that we can readily understand. We charge the Opposition with trading in a despicable way on this emotional plane. There is another reason why this confusion exists in the minds of the electors and that is because there are many side issues to this question. All of them are important side issues but they are issues which the Opposition has thrown in, in some cases rightfully, to distract the attention and the thinking of the people from the main issue. These side issues are: Is our involvement called for under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty or not? Are aliens to be called up? There is the question of votes for servicemen; the question of trade with China; why Australia has not declared war; graft and corruption in Asian countries; unequal sacrifice; and so on. I believe that a great number of Australians support the policy of aggression in Vietnam. This was reflected in the recent Senate poll. It is only since the full implications of sending national servicemen to Vietnam have been realised, that these ques- tions have been asked. The Labour Party says: “ Why can we not get volunteers? Why don’t we raise the pay of members of the Australian Regular Army?”, and so on. 1 would like to trace the history of the Government’s decision in this matter. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) knows, and as other honorable members on the Opposition side who have been in Government know, decisions of this type are not just made by a Cabinet meeting round the table. A strategic appraisal of the threat to Australia at any time is made by Cabinet only after it has received from Australian posts around the world strategic and confidential information which comes to Canberra. That information is then sifted, consolidated and considered by Cabinet. Once an interim appraisal has been made on that information, Cabinet then exchanges its intelligence sources and information with its friendly allies. Only after that has been done does the Government make a political judgment as to the strategic threat. That is done only after examining all evidence that is received. Cabinet, being made up of politicians who are not necessarily expert on military strategy, then calls for its military advisers. This is what happened in 1964 and it is happening constantly. The Cabinet went to its military advisers and said in effect: “ We are faced with this strategic threat. How do we meet it? What kind of aircraft do we want? What kind of ships? How many men? “. The final result was that it was told that it would need 40,000 men for the Army by late 1967. 1 should like honorable members to remember that 40,000 was the figure which the experts told the Government it would need by 1967. At that time there were 22,500 men in the Army and the net rate of recruitment was only 750 a year, despite the fact that the Australian soldier today is among the most highly paid soldiers in the world and has the best equipment, and despite the fact that an advertising campaign of some magnitude had been mounted. An intake of 8,400 men a year was needed. We were getting 750 at the time.
More than 80,000 young men turn 20 each year. With 80,000 eligibles and only 8,000 needed, what other alternative did the Government have than to institute the form of ballot which it instituted? Lots of things can be said about the ballot, but we chal lenge the Opposition to suggest a better scheme. We have done this time after time but not once has a member of the Opposition been able to suggest a fairer and more equitable system than the ballot. What were the alternatives before the Government in 1964 when it was told the threat was such and such and it asked its military experts what was needed to meet this threat and was told that 40,000 men were needed. The Government could have done nothing. Apparently that is what the Opposition would have asked it to do - to do nothing in the face of this expert advice. Or the Government could have called everybody up - the whole 80,000 each year. This would have resulted, as everybody can understand, in economic chaos. The Government could have increased pay for the forces and improved conditions in order to encourage recruitment, but, as I have already said, it had already done that to make the Australian soldier one of the most highly paid in the world. Or, Sir, it could have done exactly what it did do. This is only one aspect of a wide question, but I find around the electorate that the questions asked are why the Government is conscripting only a few and why there has to be a ballot. The reasons are not fully understood. If any member of the Opposition can suggest a better alternative we on this side would certainly like to hear it.
In 1955 the Opposition argued in this House with some passion that Australian assistance to combat Communism in Malaya would do two things. This is on record. The Opposition, the Australian Labour Party, said first that it would alienate Asian peoples towards Australia, and secondly that it would bog us down in an endless, unwinnable, jungle war. Sir, those words have a familiar ring today. Eleven years later we hear precisely the same arguments from the Opposition. Was the Opposition right as far as Malaysia was concerned? I believe that Communism was defeated in Malaysia and that far from alienating Asian peoples against us we won their lifelong and undying respect and thanks. Far from being bogged down in an unwinnable war, the conflict was brought to a successful conclusion and a stable, prosperous, democratic, multiracial Malaysia emerged. We on this side of the House say with pride that we played a part in bringing Malaysia to that situation.
Are members of the Opposition naive enough to believe that if Vietnam goes, Thailand and Malaysia will not be next? If this sort of subversion recurred in Malaysia, and if by some tragic chance the Labour Party occupied the Treasury bench, would it adopt the same stand about Communist infiltration in Malaysia as it is adopting about it in Vietnam? This is the question - it is indeed the question of our very survival - which the Australian people would like to have honorable gentlemen opposite answer. I believe that they wait for an answer in vain.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Last week I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) a question designed to elicit the Government’s war aims, and the answer the right honorable gentleman gave was that the aim of the Government was “ honorable negotiations “. I gathered from the warm “ Hear, hears “ from behind him that honorable members opposite regarded that as a war aim. Conducting “ honorable negotiations “ is not an aim. It is the decision to sit around the table with the opponents. What the aim of the negotiations would be was not explained by the Prime Minister. The most significant feature of his statement is that it means on the part of the Government the acceptance of the Hanoi regime. If you do not accept the Hanoi regime there is no one to negotiate, with.
I would say the logic of every Government utterance on this subject of Vietnam in this debate and over a good many years is the annihilation of the Hanoi regime. If Hanoi has the character described the Government cannot possibly have a compromise war - a war accepting Hanoi. If Hanoi is the source of the kind of dangers to Australia that the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr.. Chipp)-, has indicated, the plain logic is not to compromise with it but to destroy it. This at least is where Barry Goldwater was logical. If the Hanoi regime creates a situation of critical danger in South East Asia, then the annihilation of the Hanoi regime and not a return to a boundary dividing Vietnam is the logical action for the West. Instead of this we are involved in a kind of compromise war in which major weapons are not being used against the Hanoi regime and major targets not attacked.
It would be best if we left the electioneering on this subject until next November or whenever the Government decides to hold an election, should it be earlier. In the light of the Prime Minister’s statement about honorable negotiations, we need to study what the powers involved in Vietnam declare to be their motives in this situation. The demonstrations around the world against the war in Vietnam I believe to be in part an attempt by the Soviet Union to answer China’s charge that the Soviet Union’s policy will not defeat the United States of America and that there is no other way of defeating the United States than by what China aims to produce, namely, a nuclear war. The conviction of the Soviet Union is that the basic purpose of China’s policy is that the United States and the Soviet Union should destroy one another in a nuclear war leaving China supreme Just as the Soviet Union in the Korean war left China to be her proxy to fight the United States - and remember the Soviet Union could have vetoed United Nations actions and did not - so I believe China is fighting the U.S.A. by proxy through the North Vietnamese regime at present.
There still stand in contraction to its words the Government’s trade policy towards China and the charge of inconsistency which the Government cannot escape. Every time Government spokesmen refer to the menace of China they are either sincere or they are directing their utterances to the Australian electorate. Every time the Government develops its trade policy with China it consolidates its country vote. It is not good enough to say that Australia’s trade with China is only in wool and wheat. The fact that China does not have to produce her own wheat has enabled her to divert resources to increase her military potential. The Prime Minister and his supporters have spoken about the menace of China for 15 years and in certain years, while they have spoken this way, they have sent tq China as much as 5,000 cwt. of rutile. This is a vital element in the steel industry. It is a vital element in arms production and an essential element in the making of rocket engines and aircraft engines. The Government has assisted China to develop delivery systems for atomic weapons. The Government’s policy does not add up to a consistent policy for Asia. This contradiction needs to be faced.
The second point 1 want to make is that I believe the honorable course for the Government is to see that the Australian people know what the Government’s motive is. The Government has not a policy for Vietnam. Its motive is quite different, but I do not charge that its motive is dishonorable. 1 think it would be honorable if the Government frankly said: “ We expect to get in the future the protection of the Uni:ed States and therefore we pay in advance for that alliance by assisting the United States now “. If the Government stood by that simplicity and did not pretend that it has a policy for Asia or a policy for Vietnam when it has not, its position would be a strong one, if inadequate, and not disreputable or particularly to be condemned. Whether or not the United States is mistaken in its Vietnam policy, those people who are critics of the United States are not to be condemned as traitors. Those who were the main critics of United States policy nine years ago were honorable gentlemen from the Government side of the House, when the policy they pursued was diametrically opposed to the policy of the United Slates in Suez. This was disastrous, because the policy they pursued in Suez needed to be underwritten by the United States if it were to succeed. But no one in Australia called Government supporters, highly critical of Dulles and Eisenhower, traitors because they disagreed with United States policy. It should be possible in Australia to disagree with the policy of the United States in Vietnam without being regarded as a traitor.
It is important to look at what the United States says are its long term and short term objectives. To accuse the United States of imperialism in the sense that it wants the economic resources of Vietnam is nonsense. Whether the United States is right or wrong in its judgment, its motivation in Vietnam is the belief that it is assisting in the self determination of the people. There have been times when the United States has failed to pursue that policy. The Papuan people of West New Guinea have been betrayed by the refusal to accord them that right in the past. The view of the United
States as to how it should foster self determination is not infallible.
President Johnson defined the short term policy of the United States in Vietnam when he said this -
We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired. We will not withdraw, either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement.
There is not the least doubt that the United States has the power to give effect to these words. The United States will not be thrown out of Vietnam by the Vietcong, or by the Hanoi regime.
The long term policy of the United States was given by Bundy, the Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs.
– Do you mean William Bundy, not McGeorge Bundy?
– I refer to William P. Bundy, the Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs. He stated the long term policy as the security of individual nations from external aggression and subversion, the political and economic and social development of individual nations and the maturing of a healthy spirit of nationalism, free of the scars of past history, local rivalries and particularly past colonial domination.
I will come back to the policy of the United States, apart from that statement, if I have time. The other statement to which attention should be given is that of Ho Chi Minh. It establishes that the dream of the Prime Minister of honorable negotiations is a pipe dream. Ho Chi Minh said that he had a four point programme. It is -
Recognition of the basic national rights of the Vietnamese people which are independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
That obviously means the joining of the two territories. The programme continues -
In strict conformity with the Geneva agreements, the U.S. Government must withdraw its troops, military personnel and weapons, ammunition and war materials of all kinds from South Vietnam, dismantle the U.S. military bases there, abolish its military alliance with the South Vietnam administration and at the same time stop its policy of intervention and aggression m South Vietnam. The U.S. Government must stop all its acts of war against North Vietnam and put a definite end to all acts of encroachment upon the territory and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Pending the realisation of the peaceful reunification of Vietnam, while Vietnam it still temporarily divided in two, the military provisions of the 1954 Geneva agreements on Vietnam must be strictly respected: the two zones must refrain from joining any military alliance with foreign countries, there must be no foreign military bases, troops or military personnel in their respective territory.
The affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves-
That sounds attractive but it continues - in accordance with the programme of the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation without any foreign intervention.
The latter points are unexceptionable, except that Ho Chi Minh insists in advance that the decisions of the people of South Vietnam are not to be free and unfettered but are to be in accordance with the programme of the National Liberation Front. If those are his terms, then there will be no scope for negotiations.
Vietnam is a history of tragedies. Consider William P. Bundy’s first point- 4he security of individual nations from external aggression and subversion. Unfortunately, there are responsible suggestions that Lodge, the United States Ambassador in Vietnam, was identified at one stage with the overthrowing of the nearest approach South Vietnam has had to a government resting on consent The regime of Diem was open to criticism but I do not believe that any government in South Vietnam will be an example of what the Americans would describe as Jeffersonian democracy, nor do I think that the present Government in North Vietnam is an example of that kind of democracy. For nine years South Vietnam had stable Government under Ngo Dinh Diem. According to John Richardson, who was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency in South Vietnam, Lodge had not been in the country for five minutes before he was opposed to Ngo Dinh Diem. Lodge’s own account - I am not interested in other people’s accounts - of his last telephone conversation with Ngo Dinh Diem when the presidential palace was under fire is, in my view, a disgrace to Lodge. John Richardson went back to America under a cloud because of Lodge’s opposition to him. He was subsequently rehabilitated by President Kennedy just before Kennedy’s death, when Kennedy began to realise what had actually happened in Vietnam. 1 do not want to mention any comments on the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem apart from the comments of some of the people affected. Communists desired his overthrow. Ho Chi Minh’s comment was very simple. When the news was conveyed to him he looked quite stunned and said -
I could scarcely have believed that the Americans would be so stupid.
Nguyen Huu Tho, the President of the National Liberation Front, which is the Communist shadow government in South Vietnam, said that the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem and Nhu - were gifts from Heaven to us. . . .
Our enemy has been seriously weakened from all points of view, military, political and administrative. The special shock troops which were an essential support for the Diem regime have been eliminated. The military command has been turned upside down and weakened by purges.
For the same reason the police apparatus set up over the years with great care by Diem is utterly shattered, especially at the base. The principal chiefs of security and the secret police on which mainly depend the protection of the regime and the repression of the revolutionary Vietcong movement have been eliminated, purged. Troops, officers and officials of the Army and Administration are completely lost, they have no more confidence in their chiefs and have no idea to whom they should be loyal. From the political viewpoint the weakening of our adversary is still clearer. Political organisations like the labour and humanist party, the national revolutionary movement, the young republicans, and the movement for women’s solidarity-
These were all Diem’s organs - and others which constituted appreciable support for the regime have been dissolved and eliminated.
In the neighbouring State of Cambodia Prince Norodom Sihanouk reacted. At this stage he had American advisers and he believed that the Americans had assisted in overthrowing Diem. One of his chief advisers made this comment -
Sihanouk hated Diem and Nhu. This was inevitable. Vietnam is Cambodia’s historic enemy. But the Prince is legitimist. When he saw what the Vietnamese military did to Diem and Nhu with the help of the Americans, he made a decision.
It was to deprive the American military of any power or connection with Cambodian military so that the United States could never try its intrigues there. He saw that Diem and Nhu had been friends of the United States. After what the United States did to them, Sihanouk saw no point in having such “ friends “ here. Sihanouk dropped association with the United States.
The most disgraceful statement of all is that of one of the major assassins, General Big
Minh. That is actually his name, “Big” apparently being the equivalent of a Christian name. When asked why the Generals had assassinated Diem, speaking in the safety of exile he said -
We had no alternative. They had to be killed. Diem could not be allowed to live because he was much too respected among simple gullible people in the countryside, especially the Catholics and the refugees. We had to kill his brother Nhu because he was so widely feared - and he had created organisations that were the arms of his personal power.
There are other quotations, but I have not time to use them. All 1 can say is that it appears to me that Lodge accepted from an interesting character, Thich Tri Quang, who still appears to be a power in Vietnam - supposedly a Buddhist leader - the view that anything that Diem did to keep order was persecution of Buddhism.
It would be a good idea if in discussing the complexities of Vietnam we abandoned propaganda. For instance, I think that the statement by the Prime Minister that 43 towns were not in the hands of the Vietcong and this fact spells victory, was a sadly deluded one. I have not time to trace all the theory of Communist subversive warfare, but 1 can say that the philosophy and tactics of Mao, accepted by Giap in Vietnam, are that it is not good strategy to seek to hold the towns until one is ready to take them; instead hold the countryside. There is one new variation to this strategy and it is Guevara’s variation introduced in Cuba and adopted to the towns of Latin America where there are so many unemployed. Ernesto Guevara’s belief is that a force can be created from among the unemployed to act in co-ordination with country strategy. 1 believe that in Vietnam the application of that variation strategy is to use base subversion in towns in what appear to be militant Buddhist organisations to create constant demonstrations. Otherwise to hold the country is the Vietcong aim.
Simplifications about allegiance in South Vietnam are, I think, sheer propaganda. There is evidence that the Vietcong collect more taxation in Saigon than does the Government of South Vietnam. Half the population of Saigon is Chinese. There are
Chinese businessmen who pay their taxes to the Vietcong in Hong Kong. This extraction of money from the wealthy - protection money - can be traced back as a tactic to Lenin. In Giap’s theory, the revolutionary forces must be strictly fair in their dealings with wealthy people so that the tax flow will continue. The example is given of a businessman in Saigon who asked that his taxation be postponed. It was agreed, by the Vietcong, just as the Australian Taxation Branch might do, that this request was quite reasonable. However, the local Vietcong agent made a mistake and, acting on the assumption that the taxes had not been paid out of defiance, he threw bombs into the man’s shop. As a result the local Vietcong agent was executed by the Vietcong, an apology was sent to the businessman and compensation was paid. This is the degree of regularisation of Vietcong finances in Saigon.
It has been the strategy of Thich Tri Quang to play on the ambitions of certain of the generals, and since the death of Diem the generals have as a result been deeply divided - we have had another example of that division this week. The confusion in South Vietnam has been worse confounded. Quite clearly the South Vietnamese regime is going to depend for many years on troops from outside and we are going to be faced with what is basically an occupation for pacification rather than a war in the conventional sense. Sir Alec Douglas-Home assumed that this might last 20 years. 1 cannot make that estimate, but I think prolonged occupation is really what is taking place. The Government’s strong statements against North Vietnam and China do not correspond with the policy that is actually being pursued. The Hanoi regime has been tacitly accepted as the one with which we negotiate.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Turner) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
b asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Pensions. (Question No. 1482.)
b asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information - 1 and 2. In 1919, provision was made in repatriation legislation for a grant of up to £10 ($20) towards the funeral expenses of an exserviceman who died in indigent circumstances. In 1923, provision was made for a grant of up to £15 ($30) towards the funeral expenses of an exserviceman whose death was due to war service.
d asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Higher fees are usually charged for “ out-of-hours *’ consultations and visits. 2. (a) The Commonwealth benefit payable for a general practitioner consultation or visit is 80c. in all States.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Can he state what governments outside Australia and Britain still recommend appointments to (a) the military division and (b) the civil division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
In addition to Australia and the United Kingdom, the Governments of the following countries of which Her Majesty is Queen make recommendations for appointments to the military and civil divisions of tie Order of the British Empire: - Gambia, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Sierra Leone and Trinidad and Tobago.
b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice; -
In view of the increase of prices since pensions were last increased, will be take action to increase age, invalid and widows’ pensions during these sittings of the Parliament instead of waiting for the Budget sittings?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
It is the customary practice to review the whole field of social services each year in connection with the preparation of the Budget Review at this tin.c is appropriate as social services is a major item of Government expenditure and consequently is best considered in the light of the Government’s overall budgetary position. The customary practice will be followed again this year and any changes that are considered desirable and financially practicable will be announced by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech.
b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What was the expenditure on defence in each year from 1949-50 to 1964-65, inclusive?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The expenditure on defence in each year from 1949-50 to 1964-65 inclusive is set out hereunder-
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What was the expenditure on the (a) Navy, (b) Army and (c) Air Force in each year from 1949- 50 to 1964-65, inclusive?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The expenditure on the (a) Navy, (b) Army and (c) Air Force in each year from 1949-50 to 1964-65 inclusive is set out hereunder -
Television. (Question No. 1557.)
d asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The number of staff employed and the terms under which each building is occupied by the Taxation Office in Sydney are: -
Canteen facilities, in the sense of a cafeteria or similar food service, are not available to the staff of the Savings Bank, Plaza or Walder Buildings. The Taxation Staff Canteen Association, however, operates in these buildings to cater for the needs of the staff in respect of biscuits, confectionery, cigarettes and soft drinks. The staff employed at the Records annexe in the Anthony Hordern’s Building have permission to use the owner’s staff dining room, adjacent to the taxation accommodation, where a cafeteria service is provided at reasonable charges. A privately operated sandwich bar and kiosk service is located at Commercial Union House and is available to the taxation staff.
The administrative and economic disadvantages of the dispersion amongst several buildings of a large organisation such as the Taxation Office in Sydney have long been recognised. There are, of course, many practical difficulties associated with the development of a single building of sufficient size to accommodate the whole of the office force on a site suitable in location from the point of view of both the staff and taxpayers generally. It is expected that these difficulties will be overcome eventually and that the whole of the Taxation Office will be housed in one of the buildings comprising the Commonwealth Centre in Sydney.
Meanwhile, an effort has been made to consolidate the accommodation position in recent negotiations to lease ten Doors of a building to be erected on the Engadine Chambers site, 9/19 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, adjacent to the Commonwealth Savings Bank Building. The new building will enable the relocation therein of the sections at present housed in Walder Building and
Commercial Union House, leaving Plaza and Anthony Hordern’s Buildings as the remaining annexe holdings.
The Elizabeth Street project includes provision for a penthouse structure designed by the developers for use as a lunch room. If negotiations already in train are successful, it is proposed to use this area for, initially, the provision of a sandwich service and a possible extension of service to include hot snacks.
b asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library the transcript of the court martial of Gunner O’Neill?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Arising out of the evidence produced in the District Court Martial which dealt with charges against Gunner O’Neill, a charge has been laid against the Battery Commander, Major Tedder. Steps are being taken to have this charge dealt with by court martial as a matter of urgency. However, having regard to operational requirements it will be a little time before the matter can be finalised. In the circumstances it is considered undesirable to lay the transcript of the court martial of Gunner O’Neill on the table of the Library at this stage.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 March 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660329_reps_25_hor50/>.