26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr ARTHUR presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that the Australian Government increase by an immense amount its contributions to nonmilitary overseas aid, to be financed, if necessary, by increases in taxation, administered by some international organisation such as the United Nations and offered to countries without references to political advantage or purposes, but solely on the basis of need.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question. The honourable gentleman will remember that on Monday of last week I sent him a telegram asking whether he could arrange for the transport to Vietnam on the ‘Boonaroo’ of two generators which the British Government had given to Project Concern for use in hospitals which that organisation had helped to equip. The IPEC organisation was prepared to transport these generators to Melbourne or Sydney and the Americans were prepared lo transport them from the unloading point in Vietnam to the hospitals. The Minister spoke to me on the telephone about the matter on the following night. I now ask him: in view of the fact that these generators have now been transported by IPEC to Sydney and can be loaded on the ‘Jeparit’, is he able to say whether any fresh consideration has been given to this matter, which other members and I have been bringing to his notice and to the notice of his colleagues over the last five or six months?
– Referring to these generators which have been the subject of some public comment, I would say that the Department of Supply has facilitated the supply of the generators by the British Government. Indeed generators were available at auction as disposals stock through the Department of Supply but I think the organisation missed the opportunity to buy them. Through the good offices of the Department of Supply, Project Concern ultimately came into possession of two generators. It is true that the honourable gentleman has asked a number of Service Departments whether transport could be arranged to Vietnam for these generators, but it is part of the Government’s attitude to civil assistance in Vietnam that efforts should be either wholly private or wholly government. There are grave dangers involved in mixing the two.
I and, 1 am sure, many of my ministerial colleagues, have had the experience of being approached by various groups - very well-meaning, hardworking and sympathetic to the problem* of the people in Vietnam - who had made collections here of various articles and wanted them transported to and distributed in Vietnam by government agencies. This would give the Government no control whatever over the collections themselves or the kind of goods sent forward, but would give it responsibility for distribution and ultimate use of the goods. There has been some discussion in the newspapers in recent times about the unsatisfactory nature of some of the material collected by public agencies and sent to Vietnam. It has been stated that some of these goods have been of a kind that would bring no credit to the Australian people and may well arouse antagonism.
Aid is generally under the control of the Department of External Affairs which, as a matter of policy, believes that a civilian agency or organisation that undertakes a thoroughly good work of this kind should go the second mile and itself arrange for the transport to Vietnam of the supplies that it has assembled. The Government cannot feel obliged to undertake what is a most difficult and in most instances extremely responsible part of an activity of this kind. I am perfectly certain that those conducting Project Concern will be able to arrange their own transport and that the Project will therefore be able to take the whole credit for what is in fact a commendable public work.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the ground engineers’ strike can he intimate to the House and the travelling public how much longer the major airlines can remain operational?
– I cannot comment on the industrial aspects of the present ground engineers’ strike, as these come within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service. My information is that until last night there had been no major disruption of timetables of the two major operators. However, I understand that a number of aircraft will be grounded today. This, of course, will cause some fairly substantial alterations in the timetable arrangements. If the strike continues until tomorrow we can expect that there will be a further major disruption and that services will be lightened from that time on. I am afraid that I cannot give any further indication of how services will be maintained.
– I address my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Now thai the drought has broken, although its effects are still with us, can he tell the House whether there are in hand any positive plans, other than mere talk, to formulate a national drought policy to deal with future recurrences of drought and, if so, what those plans are?
– From time to time the Australian Agricultural Council has discussed conservation schemes for the provision of fodder and the like during droughts. The general consensus, and certainly my own opinion, is that a national scheme would not meet the needs of individual producers and that any action ought to be designed to assist individual producers to conserve fodder on their own properties when they have a surplus available, ft would be impossible to transport grain and fodder thousands of miles to many thousands of producers at a time of drought. Such an endeavour would tax the transport system beyond its capacity. It would be impossible to make fodder available in this way to those who needed it. So the line of thinking has been: what assistance can be given in time of drought by introducing some scheme that will enable producers to conserve fodder on their own properties for use when they become the victims of drought?
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer to the magnificent contribution made in the field of overseas aid through non-governmental channels such as Community Aid Abroad, the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, the Overseas Service Bureau and the churches - a contribution estimated at something over $6m in 1965-66. What would be the cost of allowing donations to these organisations as tax deductions? Will the right honourable gentleman give consideration to the granting of this concession?
– The honourable gentleman is correct when he says that the three organisations mentioned are worthy of the greatest praise for the efforts they have made in raising more than $6m last year. The policy of the Government in these matters has been that except in the case of the specialised agency of the United Nations and except in very special circumstances, taxation deductions are permitted only in cases where the organisation concerned carries on its activities within Australia. So unless there are exceptional circumstances we do not wish to extend the formula on which the Commonwealth will permit deductions to be made. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question relating to the cost of the deductions which is represented in the loss of revenue to the Commonwealth, I cannot give a precise estimate because in each case the deduction depends upon the income bracket of the donor. However, I think it could be taken as a fairly good generalisation that if $6m were contributed and taxation deductions were allowed the loss to the revenue would be something of the order of $2m.
I should like to make one other point to the honourable gentleman because I think this comment puts the problem in context. We are steadily increasing our foreign aid and we are giving aid as grants. We are the only country in the world which gives aid in this way and our contribution is steadily increasing. Other countries which seem to be disenchanted with foreign aid are substantially reducing the amount which they are contributing as a percentage of their gross national income. I have informed the House that our percentage has grown from about 0.5% of our gross national income. I believe the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) made it clear a few days ago that our percentage has now gone to more than 0.7% of our national income. This is a very good contribution.
– Is the Treasurer aware that income tax investigators are checking council garbologists who make extra money from the sale of empty bottles? It is said that some men are making as much as $6 per week, a colossal amount, if I may say so. If the Government is so bard pushed for money, will the honourable gentleman consider introducing a capital gains tax on profits made by land, property and share speculators? I might add that many of these speculators have made fortunes, tax free.
– I have not given consideration to the problem raised by the honourable gentleman in the first part of his question. I have given consideration to the part of his question relating to capital gains tax. I think it can be taken that if we had a capital gains tax and if we had also to make allowance in cases where there had been a capital loss, it would be doubtful whether we could devise a scheme which could be satisfactorily implemented. It is also doubtful whether we could introduce a scheme which would be completely equitable for investors. I remind the honourable gentleman that Australia is a country which demands substantial private capital investment if we are to sustain our national growth and if we are to achieve our economic and political objectives. For the reasons mentioned I do not favour a capital gains tax. I think it would be a restriction on private capital investment in this country.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has he seen a report that economists of the Australian National University are to investigate a national plan to feed stock during times of drought from locally retained reserves of grain? Is it correct that the study is to be financed during its first year, and probably in the future, by a grant of S10.200 from the Australian Wool Board? Can the Minister give an assurance that the interests of wheatgrowers in respect of desperately needed storage space and first advance payments and subsequent payments will be fully safeguarded regardless of any recommendations flowing from this investigation?
– I understand that the Wool Board has made arrangements for the Australian National University to conduct some investigations into drought problems, more particularly into the retention locally of grain stocks and so forth. I am not sure whether the figure quoted by the honourable member as being the amount available for such investigations is correct. It is an academic inquiry not sponsored by the Government, except in respect of the component of the cost involved which may come from Government contributory research funds. My Department will be interested in published reports and no doubt will analyse them to see what merit might be in them. Regarding the third question asked by the honourable member, I think the Government’s record in respect of the wheat industry stands out as a beacon light. The Government has assisted that industry in every way. I can assure the honourable member that neither investigations nor other factors will affect wheat payments. That matter is handled by the Wheat Board.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that hospitals in Victoria have total debts far in excess of $6m? Is he aware that some hospitals, particularly country hospitals, have for some time been unable to meet their tradesmen’s accounts? Is he aware that this situation has arisen because many patients cannot pay the high costs of hospitalisation? What does he propose to do about this deplorable situation? Will he seek consideration of a Federal grant to Victoria and to other States similarly affected in order to give hospital managements breathing space?
– What I am aware of is that the provision of hospital services in
Australia is the responsibility of State governments which receive large and increasing revenue grants from the Commonwealth for precisely the sort of purpose the honourable member underlines. I am also aware that through the various schemes run by the Commonwealth under the National Health Act the States receive very great assistance towards their hospital services. Last year, in terms of Commonwealth benefits and fund benefits combined, this was of the order of $150m which flowed by Commonwealth action to the States for the assistance of their hospital programmes. I am also aware that there has been a good deal of heart searching in Victoria about some of the administrative practices in relation to its hospital system and in respect of various improvements that could be made in relation to workers’ compensation and so forth.
– Is this the fob off?
-Order! The honourable member has asked his question.
I)r FORBES - Victoria has one of the highest rates of hospital insurance in Australia. Approximately 80% of Victoria’s population is insured for hospital benefits. In view of this I do not believe it is the responsibility of this Government to undertake the action the honourable member has suggested.
– Is the Attorney-General in a position to forecast a timetable for the Cheques Act which was under consideration by his predecessor? When the draft Bill is available will he release it for public scrutiny some months before it is debated in the House?
– I am not able to forecast a date for the presentation of a Bill for a new Cheques Act. The matter is still under consideration. However, when such a Bill is brought forward I think it would bc appropriate, after presenting it, to give time for consideration and perhaps for public representations to ‘be made.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether youths who are absent from Australia at the time when they are required to register for national service are obliged to register later when they return to Australia. Is there any evidence that young men who are in a position to do so are leaving Australia before their twentieth year? Are Australian youths required to register when serving as crew members on ships other than Australian vessels?
– No evidence has come to my knowledge that youths are leaving Australia just before reaching their twentieth year in order to avoid national service. That is the last thing I would expect of the youth of this country. As to liability to register, any youth who is absent from Australia at the time he would have to register and who returns before he is twenty-six years of age is obliged to register upon his return to Australia. The obligation to register is uniform for all occupations, wherever they may be.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration in his capacity as Leader of the House a question further to that asked by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the carriage of generators to Vietnam. Can the Minister assure me that every facility has been given to the Leader of the Opposition to make, without impediment, a statement in the House with respect to the seamen’s strike, the manning of the ‘Boonaroo’ and the carriage of goods essential to the livelihood of Australian troops in Vietnam? The people of Australia are concerned that no such statement has been made.
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that if the Leader of the Opposition chooses to make a statement of this kind he will be granted leave to make it. No approach has been made to me for leave to make such a statement but, if, as a result of this question, leave is asked for, it will be granted.
– I should like, with the indulgence of the House, to give a supplementary answer to that which has just been given on this matter. I sent for a letter which gives a rather different picture from that which has been put from the other side of the House, and I think that in fairness to all concerned it should be put before the House although it might involve a rather long answer. The impression is being created, perhaps unwittingly, that the Government in some way has been unhelpful in this matter. I have a photostat copy of a letter from Project Concern Inc., dated 8th February. It is signed by Mr John Paul Smith who, I regret to say, was killed shortly afterwards. It is addressed to my colleague the Treasurer. I shall not read it all, but I will make the letter available to the Leader of the Opposition. Mr Smith says:
I did not have the chance of writing and thanking you for the wonderful help you have given Concern in assisting to get the generators for us.
He goes on to say:
As you can see, 1 am in South Vietnam by courtesy of Air India who have given me journalist and photographic assignments in India. All Project Concern work in Australia is honorary and we would not be able to do half what is done without the help of people like yourself and Air India.
He then says:
Transportation of the generators here is our big problem and when I left Jack Bazeley was getting the Attorney-General, Mr Bowen, to help. If we can get them to Vung Tau or Saigon U.S. aid will help us get them to the hospital. Australia has a wonderful name here, I have had to bitch airplane rides and when I mention I’m from Australia things are much easier. I am proud to be associated, even in a small way, in the great work fellows like Ted Sarong, Fred Lomas and Logan are doing. It is giving us a wonderful name in Asia.
There is other interesting material in the letter, parts of which he asked not to be made public. But the Leader of the Opposition is welcome to see it. The whole atmosphere of the letter is one of appreciation for the help that is being given. My colleague the Minister for External Affairs tells me that arrangements have been made for these generators-
– A request has been made to the Army.
– Yes. A request has been made to the Army that these generators be carried with other stores that are going to Vietnam.
– When will they leave?
– On the ‘Jeparit’ we hope.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Last night the Minister for National Development made an announcement to the Press concerning grants for beef roads in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia over the last seven years. The right honourable gentleman may recall that on several occasions in 1965 the Deputy Leader of the Opposition at that time asked the then Prime Minister about the practice and propriety of other Ministers making statements outside the House during periods when the House was sitting and that Sir Robert Menzies stated: ‘I think it is a very sound and proper rule that when statements are to be made in a period of time when the House is sitting they should be made here, in the House. I have endeavoured, myself, to adhere to that rule very closely.’ I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he himself will adhere and whether he will do his best to ensure that his Ministers adhere to this very proper principle?
– I do adhere to the principle. As far as is practicable, this is what is done. I respect the entitlement of the House to this information if the House is sitting. My colleague the Minister for National Development asks me whether he can speak to this matter. He has his own contribution to make in reply to the question.
– We have an assurance that this will be done wherever possible in the future.
– So far as I am concerned I hope that all Ministers who are in a position to make a statement of interest to the Parliament will, at a time when the Parliament is sitting, seek the opportunity to make such a statement to the Parliament.
– Mr Speaker, if I could explain this-
-Order! The Minister may not speak unless he obtains leave.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. It concerns the decision of the Crown not to proceed with the charge against a migrant who intended to murder the Prime Minister. Does this decision mean that there is any relaxation in security measures concerning the political leaders of this country? Can the right honourable gentleman give an assurance that the decision in no way reflects carefree disregard for his own person, particularly as I am happy to inform him that I understand from the honourable member for KingsfordSmith that he is about to launch a ‘We like Harold’ campaign?
– I do not know that it states the matter precisely to say that the migrant in question did have intent to murder. There was a disagreement by the juries at the two hearings and apparently there was some doubt on the part of some of the jurors as to whether he actually had that intent although he was in the precincts of Parliament for six days armed for that apparent purpose and had a photograph of me in case he might mistake somebody else for me. Had he had one of the caricatures of me that appear from time to time perhaps there would have been a wider range for his action. But speaking seriously on this matter, I hope that it will be a convincing demonstration, particularly to all new settlers in this country and to our fellow native-born Australians of the strength of Australian democracy and the safeguards which exist here for the individual. This man was not only on a charge which in any country would be regarded as most serious, involving the head of the Government, but was tried by a jury on two occasions. The Crown provided legal defence for him and it has recently come to my notice that the firm of solicitors in Canberra instructing defending counsel was the agent in Canberra for the firm to which the honourable member for Kooyong belongs and of which a member of my family is a partner.
– In view of the airline strike will the Prime Minister arrange for some members of his family to be invited somewhere and use the VIP flight so that the rest of us may hitch hike home?
– I am glad to be able to tell the honorable gentleman that thanks to the effective way in which this industrial issue has been handled the strike has now been settled. Presumably normal services will quickly be restored. I appreciate the concern which he exhibits for members of my family. I only wish it was more widely patent through the Commonwealth.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Is it a fact that postage on a parcel, weighing about 3 lb, posted from Koondrook in Victoria to Barham in New South Wales, the two centres being divided by only the width of the River Murray, costs more than the postage on a parcel of the same weight posted from Koondrook in Victoria to Portland in Victoria, a distance of about 300 miles? Is this an illustration of what is happening throughout the Commonwealth? If so, will the Postmaster-General make investigations with a view to correcting what appears to be an anomaly in the operations of a Commonwealth service department?
– I think honourable members must make up their minds whether they want the public to have the services of the Post Office on the most reasonable basis of cost or whether cost is not in their opinion a matter for consideration. In general terms parcels are fairly bulky items and the cost of transporting them is very considerable. It is believed by the Post Office that the most appropriate way to deal with them is to restrict the distance in relation to the charge. We believe State boundaries to be appropriate in this regard and this is what is done. I will be quite happy to look into this matter but I express great doubt whether there will be any change as a result of my investigation because over the last three years I have looked into the matter on several occasions and I agree with the policy that has been adopted to this time.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and industry a question. Has the Government received a report from the Australian Wheat Board on the inadequacies of some Australian ports for handling bulk carriers which will be used in the near future to export wheat? Has the Government also been advised that the ports of Port Kembla and, in particular, Newcastle, are inadequate to handle the large bulk ore carriers which will substantially reduce the cost of shipping ore around the Austraiian coast? Has the
Government any plan to rectify these conditions? As an incentive to State governments to carry out a crash programme of port development, will the Government offer the States a $1 for $1 grant similar to the grants made in 1961 for harbour improvement in the ports of Newcastle, Port Kembla and Balmain?
– I do not know whether any such report has come to the Commonwealth authorities. I will find out. I point out that there is a subdivision of responsibility within this country. The State governments have their responsibility and the subsidiary semi-government authorities, including the port authorities, have their responsibility. It is surely the business of those who are primarily responsible to assess the requirement and decide whether it is within their financial capacity. If semigovernment authorities find they cannot do what is necessary they turn to the State governments. If the State governments find they cannot afford to do some essential work, there is a long history of their turning to the Commonwealth Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. I ask whether he would like to give the House now the supplementary answer that the Opposition would not let him give a few moments ago in reply to the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of the Prime Minister.
– I thank the honourable gentleman from Parkes for giving me the opportunity to explain that the Government’s programme for beef roads was put by me in this House on Tuesday night. Admittedly I did not over-stress it. I merely said that the Commonwealth had a sevenyear programme, which had been accepted, that it would give Sim to South Australia and that it would confer with Queensland and Western Australia. Unfortunately, either my statement was considered not to be newsworthy, or not enough honourable members were here to hear it. In order to ensure that it did reach the Press, on Wednesday I added a little more to what I had already said when speaking in this House but which apparently no one heard.
– I wish to ask the Minister for National Development a supple- mentary question. I listened to his speech and I heard his reference to expenditure on beef roads. I ask the Minister: does he appreciate that honourable members on this side of the House ought to have the opportunity to debate an important subject such as that raised through the Press by the Minister last night?
– If the honourable member did not hear what I said, I am prepared to repeat it. But this subject will come forward for debate when the legislation for beef roads is before the House. Legislation relating to the beef roads programme between the Commonwealth and the States is introduced every year and there will be every opportunity to debate the subject again this year. 1 have made it quite clear that the Government has a seven-year programme and is proceeding with it.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence, ls any information available to the Government that would indicate that North Vietnam also suspends its war preparations when the Americans have their bombing pauses? Or is it true, as Prime Minister Wilson has said, that there were massive military movements by North Vietnam aimed at securing a military advantage’ during these cease-fires by the Americans?
– I am afraid our experiences with pauses or truces are such as to discourage any extension of them and to give us no confidence at all that they will encourage Hanoi to move to the conference table. For instance, there is evidence to show that during the Tet pause logistic support material variously estimated at between 15,000 and 25,000 tons was moved either by road or sea into South Vietnam. This is about five times the amount that is normally thought to move under a little Air Force and Navy discouragement, and this suggests that the authorities in North Vietnam had worked feverishly in preparation for the truce so that they would be able to move the maximum amount of material south. The quantity of stores moved is thought to be enough to maintain a division in heavy combat for something like a year. The cost of recovering this lost ground in terms of effort and perhaps casualties will be well understood.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister by saying that on Tuesday in this House I was gagged by the Minister for Territories, and subsequently by the Government, when trying to comment on a ministerial statement relating to changes in the ordinances of the Northern Territory land laws. Were these proposed changes approved by Cabinet? Is the Prime Minister aware that the real motive behind the Minister’s superficially innocuous statement is to allow Sir William Gunn, as promoter for foreign interests, to be given exclusive rights and eventual freehold title to almost one million acres of the best agricultural land in the Northern Territory, known as the Tippra soils, before even allowing Australian companies or Australian farmers a chance first to develop this highly valuable land?
-Order! The honorable member is giving information. He will direct his question.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the foreign interests concerned are also attempting to get full control of the water resources of the Daly River?
– I will study the circumstances under which action was taken in the House along the lines the honorable gentleman has indicated. He has vised this opportunity, apparently, to say what he was not able to say on that occasion. Because he has put so much detail before me by way of a purported question, I should like to study the detail of the question and then give him an answer.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Has the Australian Broadcasting Control Board made a survey of television reception in the Wagin and surrounding area of Western Australia following the opening of Mawson and Mount Barker television stations? If so, are the report and recommendation available? When will the Minister be in a position to make a statement in relation to bringing a satisfactory television service to this area?
– I indicated to the House a few days ago that I had received a report on the broad basis of extension of television throughout Australia. When this is received by Cabinet 1 would hope to make a statement in regard to it. I cannot, off the top of my head, remember whether this particular area is the subject of a recommendation in the report.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that Sir Henry Bolte has no doubt about which airport will be Australia’s future premier airport, will he explain why the Government, in building Tullamarine, has found all the finance necessary to meet the cost of building the international and domestic terminals as one project yet has consistently refused to do the same for Mascot if there is no favouritism being shown towards Tullamarine? Will the Minister also state when the Department of Civil Aviation first became committed to Mascot with its 1,420 acres.
-Order! The honourable member will direct his question.
– Was it because no other land was available within a reasonable distance of Sydney, or is that only an excuse because the Treasury refuses to make sufficient finance available to acquire land in an area in which the geography demands greater costs in the building of an airport as against the cost of building an airport at Tullamarine with its 3,500 acres of level ground?
– I can only repeat what 1 said in a statement in the House the other day: the policy of the Government is quite definite. That is implicit in the statement I made. There has been no change since. Sydney airport will remain the first international airport in Australia. Of course, I think that would be quite evident to anyone if he studies the population and the traffic trends both now and as far as we can anticipate the future. The point made by the honourable member regarding the area of the two sites is, of course, quite an obvious one. There is no possibility of extending beyond the present boundaries of land in Sydney. In order to extend runway lengths and meet other requirements of that type it has been necessary already to move out into Botany Bay with all the tremendous costs and technical problems involved in that. As has been indicated, if there is a further requirement for extension of runway facilities in the future at Sydney, such extensions can, with the approval of the State authorities, be made into Botany Bay. When terminal facilities are mentioned I should point out very clearly that in Melbourne the present facilities at Essendon are quite inadequate. They are actually marginal at the moment for large domestic operations, and Melbourne is of course the headquarters of both domestic operators in Australia.
Therefore it became necessary to find a new area for a domestic airport, and the international operations through Melbourne had to terminate because of the inadequacy of the facilities there. There are no regular international flights to Melbourne at the moment, but when Tullamarine is finally opened, of course, international facilities will be provided there. Whilst domestic operators will have to move to the new facilities that will be provided at Tullamarine, I would not like it to be thought that the Government is footing the entire bill for the domestic operators. We are paying part of the cost for the building, but the domestic operators themselves will, in this move which is compulsory for them, be paying many millions of dollars for the change. In Sydney they have facilities which at the moment are suitable from their point of view. We have plans which we have suggested to them. We would prefer them to move over to the new complex where the international terminal is being constructed, and negotiations on this are proceeding at the moment.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. I refer to today’s Melbourne ‘Age’ which carries an article headed ‘Unionist replies to MP’s claim’. The article contains remarks attributed to Mr Nolan, the Victorian State Secretary of the Seamen’s Union. It reads:
The Seamen’s Union runs its own affairs in the interests of its members as it sees fit,’ Mr Nolan said.
Far from initiating action, it so happens I wm on leave when the dispute about manning Viet supply ships started.’
In the same newspaper on 1st March 1967 an article appeared in the following terms:
Last night the secretary of the Victorian Seamen’s Union and a member of the board of management of the Federal body (Mr B. Nolan) said the seamen had no intention of manning the ship.
This is in effect in direct defiance of an ACTU executive order for maritime unionists to man the supply ship.
The ship is scheduled to sail for Point Wilson to load 2,000 tons of bombs at 9 o’clock this morning.
Mr Nolan said: ‘We have no intention of taking the ship to Point Wilson to load explosives that could be used for any purpose.’
I have checked with the ‘Age’ and I have been informed that Mr Nolan was interviewed in his home in Melbourne.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Constitution Alteration (Parliament) Bill 1967. Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Bill 1967.
– by leave - I move:
That the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) be discharged from attendance on the House Committee and that in his place the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) be appointed a member of the Committee.
I may say that I am doing this on behalf of the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden), who has asked me to represent him in this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Hasluck) agreed to:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent a Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill and five associated Bills -
being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all the Bills together, and
the consideration of the Bills in one committee of the whole.
Bills presented by Mr Hasluck, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
The purpose of these Bills is to give effect to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities which concerns the privileges and immunities of diplomatic missions, and members of their staffs. If passed, these Bills will provide for the first time in Australia a comprehensive code of law on the subject of diplomatic privileges and immunities and they will also enable Australia to ratify the Vienna Convention which came into force on 24th April 1964 and to which fiftyseven countries, including Britain, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Canada, have already become parties. Australia has signed the Convention but terms of it require that a signatory state must ratify it in order to become a party to it. This Convention resulted from activity over a number of years under the auspices of the United Nations - first in the International Law Commission, and then at an international conference which was convened in Vienna in 1961 pursuant to a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.
It might be of interest if I were to say a few words about the International Law Commission. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 with the task of promoting the progressive development and codification of international law, and in the nineteen years of its existence it has had some significant achievements to its credit - notably the preparation of draft articles on the law of the sea, which formed the basis of the four Geneva Conventions on that subject, and the pre paration of the draft articles on diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities which formed the basis of the two Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963 on those subjects. It has recently completed a draft on the law of treaties. Its twenty-six members are jurists nominated by states and selected every five years by the United Nations General Assembly. It has adopted the practice of submitting to the United Nations General Assembly, after taking account of the comments of governments, draft articles on the subjects under consideration. It is then for the United Nations General Assembly to deal with the articles, and in the three instances which I mentioned a moment ago, the General Assembly has referred the draft articles to an international conference for consideration by governments. This, briefly, was the background lo the conference of eighty-one nations which met at Vienna in 1961 and which drew up the text of the Convention to which the present Bills are intended to give effect in Australia. It is a tribute to the high standard of the Commission’s work that its draft articles were in large measure adopted by the governments represented at the conference.
From this brief account of the history of the convention it will be apparent that the convention represents a balance between the views of expert lawyers and the views of governments. The experts prepared the drafts and the representatives of governments reviewed them. It also represents a balance between the views of governments because compromise on the part of all was necessary in the interests of securing a convention. There are probably very few governments in the world which would not have preferred that some of the provisions of the convention had taken a different form. What is significant, however, is the fact that for the first time in history, a widely accepted set of rules on diplomatic privileges and immunities was evolved. These rules are gaining wide international acceptance. A significant number of countries have already become parties to the convention and others who have not yet become parties, apply the convention in practice. The Australian Government takes the view that it should adopt them as the basis of law and practice in Australia on these subjects.
I shall refer briefly here to the meaning of the two terms ‘diplomatic privileges’ and diplomatic immunities’. The term ‘diplomatic privileges’ is commonly used to describe the concessions, often of a fiscal nature, which countries traditionally accord to foreign diplomatic missions and their staffs. The term ‘diplomatic immunities’ describes the jurisdictional immunities - for example inviolability of the person of a diplomatic agent, the premises and archives of a diplomatic mission and their immunity from suit - which international law confers on diplomatic missions, diplomatic agents and their staffs. As I shall mention again later, this does not mean that diplomatic agents are not required to respect the laws of the receiving State. They are so required: but unless the sending State waives the diplomatic agent’s immunity, the courts of the receiving State are unable to exercise jurisdiction. These privileges and immunities - as the preamble to the Convention recites - are not designed to benefit the individuals concerned. Immunities in particular are protections which experience has long established as necessary to ensure the performance of the function of a diplomatic mission without undue interference.
At present the Australian law on diplomatic privileges and immunities is scattered over several statutes, and a substantial part of it - particularly the law relating to diplomatic immunity - rests on the common law. The aim of the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill, which for convenience I shall call the main Bill, is to embrace within its provisions the whole subject of diplomatic privileges and immunities and this objective would be achieved by the passage of the legislation now under consideration. The other five Bills dealing with revenue matters have as one of their objectives the removal of provisions in other legislation which deal at present with diplomatic privileges and immunities.
The first point I want to make is that Australia cannot expect that its overseas missions and their staffs, our own Australians doing the job on behalf of the Australian Government overseas, should receive more generous treatment than that which Australia is prepared to concede to overseas diplomatic missions and their staffs in Australia. Any curtailment of the internationally recognised privileges and immuni ties on Australia’s part could thus create difficulties for our Australian missions overseas and perhaps jeopardise the security of Australian diplomatic missions overseas. There is need to maintain a balance between these two considerations.
The Convention makes some significant changes, indeed some significant reductions, in the scope of diplomatic privileges and immunities. I mention two specific examples. Firstly, as regards diplomatic immunities, it is the traditional international law that members of diplomatic missions, together with the private servants of the Head of Mission are immune from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the country in which they are serving, not only in respect of their official acts, but in respect of their personal acts as well. Under the Convention, members of diplomatic missions are divided into several classes and immunity varies from class to class. Full immunity is conferred only on the diplomatic staffs of a mision, that is to say, the Ambassador, Minister, High Commissioner and Charge d’ Affaires and members of the diplomatic staff - counsellors, first, second and third secretaries and attaches.
The administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission - the typists, clerks and archivists, for example - arc accorded full immunity in respect of their official acts but in relation to their non-official acts they have no immunity from the civil jurisdiction of the state in which they are serving. They are, however, given immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state, this being regarded as essential to enable these members of the staff of a mission to carry out their duties without risk of interference on the part of the state in which they are serving. On that point I would ask honourable members to think not solely of conditions in Australia but of conditions in some other parts of the world where our own Australians are serving.
Service staff of the diplomatic mission - i.e. the domestic staff of the mission, including chauffeurs - are accorded complete immunity only in relation to their official acts, and private servants only such immunity as is accorded by the receiving state - that is the state in which the mission is established. Firstly the Convention. instead of giving everybody immunity, gives different types of immunity to different classes of mission staffs. Secondly, the Convention reduces the extent to which members of diplomatic missions may claim exemptions from customs duty. In the case of administrative and technical staff, the right is limited to the time when they first enter the receiving state to take up their duties. This provision would reduce considerably the scope of customs privileges as hitherto have been accorded in Australia.
Other instances where diplomatic privileges and immunities are reduced could be given but T should like to mention at this point the one respect in which the Government proposes that Australia might go beyond the minimum level of privileges set out in the Convention. This is in the area of excise duty and sales tax on excisable goods. The Convention gives members of a mission no rights to exemption from excise duty. The phrase used in the Convention is: ‘ indirect taxes which are normally incorporated in the price of goods or services’.
In the case of retail purchases, members of missions will thus have no claim for exemption from payment of excise duty. Most members of missions, however, at present purchase excisable goods duty-free from bond. The Government proposes that excise concessions should be granted on the same basis as customs concessions. This has the effect of restricting the excise concessions in favour of members of diplomatic missions to cases where purchases are made from bond by Heads of Missions and members of their diplomatic staff, who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia. The Government also proposes that these excisable goods be exempt from sales tax. If a person who enjoys this exemption when purchasing from bond were to walk into an ordinary retail establishment and buy something over the counter he would not enjoy a reduction in price by taking the sales tax or excise from the retail price.
I might also mention here that the Convention provides that certain persons shall have privileges and immunities only to the extent admitted by the receiving state. The Government considers that private servants and non-diplomatic staff who are Australian citizens or who are permanently resident in Australia should not be accorded privileges, but that it is reasonable to accord them immunity in respect of acts performed in the course of their duty. The same immunity is proposed for private servants of heads of missions who are not Australian citizens or permanently resident in Australia.
I pass now to consider another aspect of diplomatic immunity. It is argued that diplomatic immunity often involves hardship for an individual who has a right of action against a member of a diplomatic mission which would otherwise be adjudicated in court. Even in the simple case of debt it cannot be denied that such a consequence may, and sometimes does, arise but I would ask honourable members to realise that there are other considerations to be borne in mind.
Article 32 provides that diplomatic immunity may be waived by the country which the diplomat involved represents; and in practice we have found in Australia that the waiver often occurs. Moreover, the Vienna Conference passed an important resolution which recommends that governments waive the immunity of members of diplomatic missions in respect of civil claims when this can be done without impeding the performance of the functions of the mission. The resolution also recommends that, should a mission not waive immunity, the sending state should use its best endeavours to bring about a just settlement of the claim.
It could well be the case that this resolution will result in changes in the attitudes of governments as regards claims of diplomatic immunity in respect of actions involving their staff. So far as Australia is concerned the Australian Government in the past has drawn the attention of missions in Canberra to this resolution in several cases, with the result that claims of immunity have been withdrawn and an action has been adjudicated in court or a settlement reached. Furthermore, if cases of hardship arise - that is, hardship to an Australian suitor or Australian citizen - resulting from the application of the rules relating to diplomatic immunity, the Department of External Affairs is prepared to assist whenever it can to bring about a solution acceptable to both sides - perhaps by bringing the parties together in some way or by seeking agreement that a dispute be referred to arbitration. Again, our experience has been that most governments, in fact all governments, have been prepared to co-operate with us in that.
I do not want to leave the impression that I am of the opinion that claims to diplomatic immunity may never cause inconvenience or hardship, but I have sought to show that the Government will do all it can to overcome any problems which individual Australian citizens might face in this regard. It is the Government’s view that a fair balance is struck in the Convention between the needs of individuals and the needs of governments. We should remember too, that one effect of any further reduction of diplomatic immunities could well be to place in jeopardy the security of Australian missions overseas and of - Australian personnel serving in those missions. In international affairs the gospel of tit for tat is followed fairly consistently. What we give, we receive; what we withhold is withheld from us.
From the wide range of other matters dealt with by the Convention, and which I believe honourable members will find selfexplanatory, I make particular reference to two problems which often arise in this field. The first concerns traffic offences and the other concerns abuse of the privilege of importing goods duty-free. As to the matter of traffic offences, it should be borne in mind that the immunity of diplomatic personnel is not an immunity from the provisions of the local law. It is an immunity from the jurisdiction of the courts of the receiving state. The Convention, in Article 41, makes it clear that it is the duty of diplomatic personnel to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. In the case of a serious breach of the law by a member of a diplomatic mission, or in the event that frequent offences are committed by any such person, earnest consideration will be given by the Government to declaring the person non grata in which event the Government to which the person belongs would have no alternative but to recall him. Secondly, the changes made by the Convention in relation to the immunity of sub.ordiante staff - I referred to these earlier - will I believe have a significant effect in this regard. Thus, as I have mentioned, administrative and technical staff will be subject under the Convention to civil proceedings in relation to any off-duty accidents and members of service staff will be liable to both civil and criminal proceedings in relation to off-duty accidents or offences. I think I might observe that the distinction in this context is not a matter of class consciousness. The point is that a person who is undertaking high diplomatic duties for his government in a career service, and is hoping to continue his career, will certainly be more responsive. He will be more fearful of the possibility that he will be declared non grata than a person who is locally engaged, or temporarily engaged, or who is not making his career in the service or is not occupying a high post in the service of his government.
I mention too that incidents involving traffic breaches by diplomatic personnel are not allowed to pass unnoticed in Australia. Reports of any such incidents are forwarded by the Police of the state concerned to the Department of External Affairs which brings them to the notice of the head of mission concerned or other senior officer at such mission, and serious or frequent abuses would, as I have mentioned, lead to the consideration of whether the offender should be declared non grata.
On the subject of abuse of the privilege of importing goods duty-free, it is the Government’s usual practice to require persons importing goods duty-free to give an undertaking that they will not dispose of the goods within two years without payment of duty. Despite this, some abuses have occurred in this field and honourable members will recall that some have been referred to on occasions in this House. Administrative machinery to maintain surveillance, as far as possible, over imports of duty-free goods by diplomatic personnel has been strengthened, particularly in relation to the importation of cars. But in addition, the Bill, besides requiring the giving of an undertaking on the lines of the present law - to which I have just referred - contains a further provision relating to the case of a person who has failed to honour such an undertaking. The provision enables the Minister to make the acceptance of further undertakings subject to additional conditions designed to ensure compliance with these undertakings. Moreover, the Bill also provides that the Minister for Customs and Excise may limit the privilege of duty-free entry of goods in any case where he considers that the reasonable requirements of the mission or officer concerned have been adequately met by articles of the same or similar kind already imported.
Having made these general observations I now turn to the specific provisions of the Bills. As to the main Bill, clauses 1 and 2 are formal provisions. Clause 3 provides for the repeal of the Diplomatic Immunities Act 1952-1958. This Act deals with the immunities in Australia of High Commissioners, members of their staffs and their families. The Vienna Convention is so drafted that it is applicable to High Commissioners, members of their staffs and their families, and the consequence of the legislation now under consideration would be that only special provisions relating to High Commissioners are no longer necessary. Clause 4 contains several necessary definitions of terms used in the Convention. Clause 5 provides for the extension of the Act to the Territories of the Commonwealth and clause 6 makes it clear that the Act is intended to cover the whole field of diplomatic privileges and immunities to the exclusion of other legislation on the subject.
Clause 7(i) is the main operative clause of the Bill and provides for the incorporation into Australian law of specific articles of the Vienna Convention. Other articles of the Convention are not appropriate for legislation, but if Australia ratifies the Convention it will of course, accept international obligations in relation to these articles.
In the Convention there are some articles which require the enactment of an Australian law to give effect to them and there are other articles that do not require enactment of an Australian statute but merely expression of the intention of the Government to respect them. These obligations either do not require legislation because they can be met by administrative action or legislation sufficient to meet them already exists. The other provisions of clause 7 are inserted for reasons of clarity of interpretation. Clause 8 would enable the restriction of the privilege of duty-free importation of goods to the extent which I have discussed earlier. Clause 9 provides for exemption from excise duty on goods purchased from bond by Heads of Mission and members of their diplomatic staff and clause 10 provides for the exemption of the same goods from sales tax. Both clauses include provisions for the restriction of these privileges in a manner similar to that provided under clause 8. Clause 1 1 concerns the privileges and immunities of private servants of the Head of Missions, as well as the privileges and immunities of Australian citizens employed by diplomatic missions here. The convention in paragraph 4 of Article 37 and paragraph 2 of Article 38 provides that such classes of persons receive privileges and immunities only to the extent specified by the receiving state. The intention of clause 1 1 is that such persons should be accorded only jurisdictional immunity in respect of acts performed in the course of their duties.
Clause 12 enables privileges and immunities accorded under the Bill to be withdrawn from a mission or from members of the staff of a mission in Australia if the country to which that overseas mission belongs has curtailed the privileges and immunities of the Australian mission or the staff of that mission in that country - the legislative enactment of the gospel of tit for tat.
Clause 13 enables the making of regulations to incorporate the substance of the provisions of section 7 of the Diplomatic Immunities Act which would be repealed in accordance with clause 3 of the main Bill. The retention of these provisions is necessary to enable the appropriate privileges and immunities in respect of official acts to be accorded members of non-diplomatic missions in Australia established by the governments of British territories.
Clause 14 enables the Minister to certify in writing for the purpose of the present or the repealed Acts any fact relevant to the question whether a person is or was entitled to privileges and immunities. Such certificates are commonly sought for court purposes and the clause provides for any such certificate to be evidence of the facts certified. Knowing that several members of the Opposition paying close attention to this are in the legal profession. I might interpose here that it is evidence of the fact certified, not conclusive evidence.
The other Bills constitute amendments to the customs tariff, excise tariff, income tax, pay-roll tax and sales tax legislation. If the main Bill becomes law it will provide the necessary authority for the diplomatic privileges set out in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to be accorded in Australia. As I have already indicated the level of privileges set out in the Convention is significantly below that now accorded. The other Bills therefore propose consequential amendments to the relevant provisions of the revenue laws which now authorise privileges.
In addition the consequential Bills will modify the consular privileges now granted under the revenue laws. A reduction of diplomatic privileges requires a corresponding reduction of consular privileges and the consequential Bills are, in the main, directed to this end. In establishing the reduced level of consular privileges, account has been taken of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations - that is a separate convention from the one we are considering - and generally Consular privileges have been brought into line with the level established by that Convention. I should mention here that the Government is giving consideration to the Convention on Consular Relations and its present intention is to introduce legislation in due course on the subject of consular privileges and immunities. That legislation - introduced in due course and passed by Parliament - would enable Australia to ratify the Convention on Consular Relations. Honourable members will appreciate that there are two conventions, one on diplomatic relations and one on consular relations, but for the time being we are mentioning consular relations in these ancillary Bills to ensure that consular privileges do not exceed the new privileges given under the diplomatic relations convention. In the meantime, honourable members will appreciate that it would be anomalous, pending the ratification of the convention on consular relations, to leave the provisions of the revenue laws unchanged in respect of consuls when the substantial reductions which I have mentioned are made in relation to diplomats.
The main clauses of the Customs Tariff, the Excise Tariff and the Sales Tax Bill provide for limitations on privileges for consular officers and stall - and others not included as members of the staff of a diplomatic mission - similar to the limitations which may be placed on the privileges of diplomatic officers and their staff under clauses 8, 9 and 10 of the main Bill. The schedules of these three Bills make detailed amendments to the schedules of the principal Acts. In the cases of the Income Tax Bill and the Pay-roll Tax Bill the amendments to the Principal Acts are made in the main clauses of the Bills. The provisions of the taxation Bills are dealt with in more detail in an explanatory memorandum which is being circulated for the information of honourable members.
The Government considers that the Bills and the Convention on which they are based offer a realistic approach to the subject of diplomatic privileges and immunities. They put them for the first time in Australia on the footing of a single body of legislation. I commend all six Bills to honourable members.
– In moving that the debate be adjourned might I ask the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) whether he could prepare, before the resumption of the debate, a statement on the current law and practice in the States and Territories concerning the rights of Australians to recover insurance under third party laws. I. suggested on previous occasions that the situation would be met with diplomatic propriety and with legal practicality if persons who were injured in accidents involving diplomatic personnel were able to sue a nominal defendant in the same way as such persons are able to sue a nominal defendant where the guilty driver is unknown or cannot be found. I believe that this is the most pressing problem which affects Australian citizens as a result of the necessary application of diplomatic immunities. My recollection is that it has been dealt with in practice in the Australian Capital Territory, and I am certain that honourable members interested in this subject and .he general public would be helped if they could have in a concise form what the current law and practice is. I merely put it to the Minister now, Sir. because it is char that his facilities for obtaining this information arc greater than thee that private members can generally assemble before they would expect the debate to be resumed.
– I will consult with my advisers and see if it is possible to provide that information.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Parliament House: Accommodation for Press and Visitors - State Planning Authority of New South Wales - Land Tenure in the
Question proposed: That grievances be noted.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, members of the House appreciate the opportunity of grievance day debates, particularly junior members or back benchers like myself, because certain bills do not give us the opportunity of raising matters which we believe are of concern to members of Parliament and the community in general. I want to direct my remarks today to the overcrowding of Parliament and to what I consider to be the undiplomatic behaviour of members of the Press which I notice happening from week to week. I think honourable members are aware that in most other countries the wealthy Press magnates provide Press clubs for their journalists out of their own finances. Here in this Parliament there are two public galleries which from time to time are unable to accommodate many of the Australian citizens that come to Canberra. Above my head here and to my right we have two galleries provided for the Press. On many occasions the Press gallery above my head is not occupied at times when the public galleries are fully occupied. I believe that the Australian community and the tourists who come to Canberra should not be deprived of the opportunity to enter Parliament and get experience of parliamentary procedure whilst one Press gallery remains vacant. The taxpayers of Australia have provided and own this Parliament.
All honourable members are aware of the existence of the National Press Club in Washington which was provided by the Press of the United States. Similar press clubs are provided in many other countries. I believe the time has been reached, if it is not overdue, when the Press of Australia should consider building a Press club, adjoining the Parliament, from their own lucrative finances.
– Does the honourable member believe that Packer should shell out for that?
– He should be one of the main contributors.
– Some of them ought to be reporting cricket.
– No. I do not suggest that the facilities for sending messages to their respective newspapers should be curtailed. One notices here from week to week, that members of the Press are infringing their privileges by stalling in the lobbies for the purpose of extracting from honourable members some information that they can write up in their newspapers. Often at the main entrance steps of Parliament House one has to weave one’s way through zealot Pressmen when coming into Parliament. Sometimes when entering the Parliamentary Library we find the doorways crowded with Pressmen.
Undoubtedly there are some very decent and honourable Pressmen in this Parliament but on the other hand there are some very rude and offensive types. I believe the time has come when the Speaker should give careful consideration to the matters I have raised and which I intend to touch on further. It has come to my notice that a number of pressmen have gate crashed official functions here. I understand that each newspaper is allowed to have one representative at these functions. I know of a recent instance when a pressman threatened a member of this House.
– He did not.
– The honourable member for Angas treats his parliamentary career as a bit of a joke. One day the people of Angas will realise this. I am afraid that Australia is drifting towards the situation that exists in the United States as far as the Press is concerned. In 1962 I had the opportunity to visit Brazil as a member of a delegation from this Parliament. While abroad I spoke to a United States senator and was nauseated by what he told me. He said that he virtually had to contribute from his salary to 250 newspapers in his State. I said: ‘I am afraid I would never seek to enter politics in Australia if members of Parliament in Australia had to do that’.
– That is called graft.
– Yes, I would call it graft. The United States senator said: ‘My boy, if you do not do it the Press in the United States will kill you overnight.’ Fancy having to contribute to 250 newspapers. If that is not graft of the most nauseating type I do not know what is. I object to the way members of the Press are taking advantage of the laxity of the authorities in this place to enter sections of the House, particularly the corridors, which are sacred to honourable members and in which the presence of unauthorised persons is restricted. I recall that when the Opposition was electing a new Leader one young pressman was standing only two feet outside the locked doors of the Opposition party room.
– Was he listening?
– I would not be able to say whether he was listening but 1 assume that he was trying to listen.
– Does the honourable member think that the pressman’s editor told him to bc there?
– That may be. He may have been told to get his news no matter what he had to do. I know of an instance when-
– How did the honourable member get his information when he was a D?
– From fizgigs like the honourable member. I found them very beneficial. I know of instances of pressmen telephoning honourable members late at night, particularly when the State aid legislation was before the Parliament, and virtually threatening those members that they would be adversely reported in the Press if they did not adopt an attitude in relation to State aid that was in line with the policy followed by the newspaper concerned. This situation should be exposed and every member of Parliament should do what he can to put a stop to such activities.
The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) referred to my former profession. This reminds me of something that happened years ago. I was talking to a pressman after I had finished work. He had interviewed the chief of the Sydney Criminal Investigation Branch and, referring to the head of that Branch, he said: What is more, if he does not come on side in connection with the progress of this murder inquiry I will write him and write him.’
In view of the matters to which I have referred - the experience of the United States senator, the gate crashing by certain pressmen of functions in this Parliament, the infringing of our privileges in this place, the threatening of members of Parliament and the incident in relation to the chief of the CTB - I submit that it is time we did something to curtail the activities of pressmen in this place and to see that they abide by the rules that are laid down. As I have said, the Parliament is already overcrowded. I would be happy to see the Press gallery above the Opposition benches made available to tourists who come here to listen to the debates because at present that gallery is seldom occupied. I hope that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and Mr Speaker will take note of the matters I have raised. Not many honourable members like to criticise the Press because so many of them are grateful to the Press for having assisted them into Parliament. But the Press has never done anything to help in my election to this place and it will never be able to get me out.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 regret that the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) should have castigated the Press in such general terms. If he had wanted to lay specific charges he should have done so. One thing he should know, as a former detective, is that a pressman will never break a confidence.
This morning I desire to address the House on what has now become a scandal in New South Wales. I refer to the activities of the State Planning Authority of New South Wales. In the late 1890s and at the turn of the century we had in New South Wales land scandals, notably the Crick land scandal. But compared with the land scandal now being perpetrated in New South Wales the scandals of sixty or seventy years ago pale into insignificance.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honourable member is reading a speech that he made in this House on Tuesday night. Would that not be tedious repetition?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The marked difference between the present scandal and those of other years is the subtlety with which it is being engineered. The whole of the planning is steeped in secrecy and is controlled by star chamber methods. Projects involving hundreds of millions of dollars are conjured up in the star chamber. Councils, the public, land owners and, it would appear, the Minister concerned are not consulted. Within a few days of the Chairman of the State Planning Authority making a statement that a commercial centre would be established at Mount Druitt, Rosemary Szoeki wrote to the Minister concerned requesting that her parents’ home be not resumed. The Minister replied that he would ask the State Planning Authority what was the present position and would advise her in due course. The Minister evidently was not au fait with the facts. The Chairman had asserted that his statement was made with ministerial approval.
The scandal is carefully contrived. Firstly the land is zoned as green belt or for parks, playgrounds and special purposes. Thousands of allotments of residential land are zoned as rural or green belt. The Valuer-General then reduces the value of the land to a nominal figure. Then the State Planning Authority resumes the land at the reduced value. Throughout New South Wales thousands of farm lots of less than five acres are lying idle because of the imposition of a minimum of five acres for farm development. The owners of these lots, as well as the owners of land zoned as green belt or for parks, playgrounds and special purposes, have to pay rates and taxes, but when the State Planning Authority resumes the land it does not pay municipal or shire rates.
Another scurrilous act by the State Planning Authority is the order preventing existing business premises at Mount Druitt and Rooty HH! from being extended or altered so that their owners may compete with the State Government sponsored commercial centre. This discriminatory action cannot and must not be tolerated in a democracy, especially a free enterprise democracy. But during the whole period the business houses have been suffering from this restriction, a number of new homes have been erected and some are in course of erection at this moment. The owners were never warned of the Authority’s intention. This action is incredible. It adds to the frustration and deprives owners of their freedom. Thousands of dollars will have ‘to be paid in compensation. This is typical of almost every scheme the State Planning Authority has devised.
Since the formation of the Association for the Abolition of the State Planning Authority of New South Wales, I have made statements about the inevitable breakdown of the transport system. I roused the Authority from its lethargy. Today it is advertising for a transport officer. I have observed that the supporters of the State Planning Authority are people who are well housed, who are living in security and whose properties are not subject to restrictions imposed by the Authority. However, I have great confidence in my fellow New South Welshmen. I am sure that when they become aware of the cruel, wicked, harsh, vindictive treatment that fellow New South Welshmen are suffering, and in some instances have been suffering for up to fifteen years, they will rally to assist them to overcome their frustration and to get rid of the State Planning Authority of New South Wales.
I have been heartened by the response 1 have received from almost the whole of New South Wales. I have received hundreds of letters. I want to acknowledge them and tell the writers that at present it is impossible for me to reply to them. I also tell them that on Sunday next a meeting of the Association for the Abolition of the State Planning Authority of New South Wales will be held at the Civic Centre, Blacktown. Many excellent men who have given a lifetime to local government have assured me of their encouragement and assistance. I want to thank them. If we can get rid of the Authority, we will have performed a service that will transcend anything else we may have done for our communities and for our nation. In a democracy, the rights and the liberty of the individual must remain supreme. I am sure that, by the efforts that will be made to the north, south and west of Sydney, a great organisation will be brought into being that will make the Government of New South Wales realise that we are a free enterprise democracy and we will not tolerate communistic legislation in New South Wales.
– On Tuesday last, after the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) had made a statement to the House outlining proposed amendments to land tenure ordinances in the Northern Territory, I sought leave to make a short statement. T wanted lo question the Minister on certain points of the proposed amendments. Leave was not granted by the Minister and, even after a division, I was not able to speak. The reason given by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), who is the Leader of the House, for refusing leave was that the matter would be considered by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. However, the Minister for Territories in his statement to the House said:
The statement has been made by the Administrator to enable wide public discussion of the principles involved in advance of consideration of the proposed legislation by the Legislative Council.
In other words, the Minister sought to get as wide a view of the proposed legislation as possible from the public. But when I wanted to ask the Minister a few questions, I was denied the opportunity. This seems to me to be very strange.
I am conscious of the many rumours that are circulating in the Northern Territory and the northern part of Queensland about a colossal land deal that will take place in the Northern Territory. It is suggested that Tipperary Station will become another Humpty Doo. I found the rumours extremely difficult to believe and I did not accept them, but after making inquiries in the Northern Territory over the last few days, I regret to say that this is in fact what could happen. Apparently the Minister and the Cabinet do not believe that the Parliament has the right to discuss matters of public importance after a statement relating to them has been made. Yet, in his statement, the Minister sought to encourage wide public discussion. This is just another example of the arrogance of Ministers in regard to the rights of members of Parlia ment. The reason given by the Leader of the House was clearly absurd.
The north at the present time is full of rumours relating to this proposed land deal. I hope the Minister for Territories will get up in the House today and deny or confirm them. Underlying the superficially harmless amendments of the land ordinances, there seems to be a scandalous proposal. I believe that we will see one of the most scandalous propositions for land development that has ever occurred in northern Australia. It will be far more important than the sell-out of our leases in 1954 after Lord Vestey came to Australia. The true reason why the Minister for Territories wishes to change the entire existing land tenure system is only to allow large foreign interests to take exclusive possession of more than two million acres, comprising one million acres of Tippra soils and Blain soils, to carry out large scale agriculture, including the growing of sorghum and peanuts. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) will be pleased to hear about the peanuts. Under the existing land laws, it is impossible for an absentee owned company to take up agricultural leases for the growing of cash crops. First preference must be given to Australian families who are prepared to reside in the area. The maximum size of any area leased for agriculture is 6C square miles of 38,400 acres. For some very strange reason, it is proposed to increase the maximum size to 200,000 acres. Of course, any man who can farm 38,000 acres is pretty good; but we have not yet seen in this country, and I doubt whether we ever will, anyone who can successfully farm 200,000 acres. As I said at question time, the person behind this colossal scheme is our old friend and promoter. Sir William Gunn. He will he the principal ramrod for the foreign interests.
So serious is this matter that I very much doubt whether the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and his Cabinet are fully aware of the motives behind the amendments. I cannot believe that, as an Australian, the Prime Minister will allow foreign interests to take control of huge tracts of the best of our agricultural land. In the existing circumstances of lack of roads and finances, there is certainly some argument for foreign investment in Cape York Peninsula. One cannot deny that. We cannot blame Sir William Gunn and the
Americans. One can only blame the Government for not providing incentives by way of finance and roads to allow Australians to develop these areas. I cannot believe that the Prime Minister would be a party to this proposal in the Northern Territory. In fact, ii he does know about it I am extremely saddened. I am saddened also and annoyed to think that the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) is prepared to sanction such a proposal if this is true. I can reach the conclusion only that the Minister, who is incapable of handling his portfolio in respect of New Guinea, is now also incapable in respect of the Northern Territory.
The owners of this proposed scheme will be Americans - principally the owners of Lakefield, Laura and Silver Plains. The principal promoter will be Sir William Gunn who will have a management interest in it. The owners want exclusive rights to be able to develop and subdivide this land and then they will no doubt sell it to Australians. If successful, of course, they will make huge profits. If in the last resort Australian companies - and I stress the words Australian companies’ - and Australian farmers were unable to develop this land there would be an argument, I suppose, for then inviting others to come in and attempt to develop it, but no attempt has been made to invite Australian farmers or Australian companies to develop this land.
The proposal in the ordinance is for a fifty year lease at first. It is noted that the right to resumption for cultivation will be removed. What will happen, for example, if on a pastoral lease where cultivation takes place the crops fail? The company or companies to whom the lease has been given will have complete control of this land for another fifty years. If the cultivation is a success agricultural leases will be granted in perpetuity and eventually on a freehold basis. The proposal is to grow sorghum principally. There has been, of course, research carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation station at Katherine on these types of soil which has established that there is a possibility of growing sorghum. But Sir William Gunn’s venture into agriculture and rice growing at Humpty Doo set back rice growing in the Northern Territory fifty years. That area was going to be the rice bowl of the world, but what happened?
Humpty Doo was the greatest fiasco in the history of northern Australia so far as agriculture is concerned. Millions of dollars were lost. The people of the Northern Territory, unlike the people in Gippsland which the honourable member for Gippsland (MrNixon), who is attempting to interject, represents, are fully aware of this fiasco. They do not want a repetition of it.
The Queensland British Food Corporation scheme was another agricultural failure. Sir William Gunn also had an interest in Esperance, which was another failure. The Brigalow scheme showed what could happen in an attempt to grow sorghum. One of the most important things about this proposal in the Northern Territory is that water is also involved. An ‘argument is being put forward that Sir William Gunn should control the water resources of the Daly River. No person in this Parliament will fight more for northern development than 1 will but I cannot support ill conceived and ill formulated schemes such as the Humpty Doo proposal. Unless this scheme is backed by proper research and proper planning how can one support it? If this proposal goes through without first allowing Australian companies and Australian farmers to participate in it then this Government stands condemned in the eyes of every decent Australian. First and foremost, let Australian companies have a go at it with the Government helping them with finance, roads and development. If Australian companies cannot develop the land let us admit it. But first and foremost let Australian companies and Australian farmers have a chance to develop this valuable land.
– As this is the first opportunity I have had of speaking in the 26th Parliament I congratulate Mr Speaker on his appointment to his high office and you, Sir, on your re-election to the position of Chairman of Committees. I want also to congratulate the new Government Whip and his assistant and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) on being re-elected Whip of the Opposition. I congratulate also the new members on their maiden speeches and on their entry to this Parliament. I say to them, although I do not want to preach at them, that I have found it quite a good thing not to deal with personalities in this House but wilh policies. I have always attempted to deal with policies and not personalities.
I am not delighted that some of the men who extended me good will in the past are not here now. Some left this Parliament and others lost their seats at the last election. In some cases I could not support their policies but I am appreciative of the good will that so many of them always extended to me and I hope that the same goodwill will continue to be extended by Opposition members in this Parliament now. lt is very pleasing indeed to see the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) again in this House. When he left the Australian Labor Party it appeared to be almost impossible for him to be returned to this House as an independent. The honourable member for Batman is a seafaring man. With apologies to Walt Whitman the honourable member can now say:
The ship has weathered every rack, The prize 1 sought is won.
He is back with us and 1 hope he will give a good account of himself in this 26th Parliament.
I really rose to deal with a matter that I have consistently advocated during the last three or four parliaments at least. It relates to estate duty and the valuations upon which the duty is assessed. At this stage I am not against the imposition of the duty, nor the rate of the tax but the valuations on which the tax is imposed. In this House just towards the end of the last Parliament in the absence of the Treasurer I addressed a question to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), who had previously been the Treasurer. I asked him whether he was aware that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the system of basing valuations of land for estate duty purposes on land sale prices. Very courteously the Prime Minister said that he could not answer the question straight away but that he would look into the matter and give me an answer. My question was asked on 20th September 1966 and the Prime Minister, in quite a long answer, replied on 28th October. Among other things he said:
The Commonwealth is not alone in adopting “ market value “ as the general measure of the value of property on which estate duty is payable.
My reason for asking the question previously had been to enable the Treasurer, or the Prime Minister, or perhaps 1 should say the Government, to give a clear lead regarding the values that could be used by the States in overcoming what I considered to be a grave anomaly. The Prime Minister went on to say:
The courts have held that this value is best evidenced by sale figures for comparable land, provided that any sale used as a yardstick has not been influenced by special circumstances causing a price which is out of line with normal market prices.
That is the very crux of my argument. 1 do not believe that this yardstick is being used at present in the right way, at least not in the way the Prime Minister has said. I believe there are all sorts of circumstances about land sales which should be taken into consideration. At present sale prices can be much above the normal value of the land and yet it is being used as the basis for the imposition of the tax. It must be remembered that probably over years and years only about 10% of land is offered for sale. A primary producer goes on to a property. If he finds that the property is good he stays on it and in many cases hands it down to his children over four or five generations and no sale is made at all. There is such a small amount of land coming onto the market that when land is sold under these circumstances it realises a much higher value than would be the case if a lot of land were being offered. Therefore when farmers hold their properties year after year, as does the man who has a shop that he has established in a town, not a great deal of land comes on to the market. When land does come on to the market there is keen competition for it and the price is often higher than the normal productive value of the land.
I have mentioned this matter many times in this House. I have found after years r»f experience in this place that the only way to get attention is to keep on with a subject day after day. I remember that when 1 used to get up and speak regularly about the rabbit plague honourable members would say before I commenced: ‘rabbits’. But a constituent of mine suggested finally that myxomatosis be tried at a spot on the Murray River above Kerang. This suggestion was conveyed by me to this House and was adopted and for the first time myxomatosis was successful, lt had failed when on more than one occasion previously it had been tried in South Australia. Then I spoke on the dried fruits industry week after week and year after year until we finally got some money and some action on behalf of the industry. There was a period when honourable members would say, whenever 1 rose in the House: ‘Dried fruits again!’ I concentrated on the subject of skeleton weed, which some honourable members find quite amusing. But we got the cash to combat it. 1 want the Government to give a clear lead on this matter about which 1 have been speaking. If a man has a neighbour whose land comes on the market the first thing the land agents do is to give that man first offer of the land, because he can probably pay up to, say, $10 an acre more than another person could pay. After all, be can operate the property with the same machinery that he uses on the home block, and while doing so he is probably arranging to settle his son on the new property. 1 have not sufficient time to go into all the details of this subject, but I have mentioned them on other occasions and they are to be found in Hansard. 1 believe that what is happening at the moment is wrong. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has said that if my suggestion is adopted it would lead to an increase in the normal market value of rural land, which would be to the disadvantage of existing land holders. He has said that if estate duty were reduced more people would buy land in order to keep their probate costs or estate duty payments at a lower level. Well, not much land comes on the market at the present time and the point I am making is that primary producers are being harassed with high probate duties on land that they intend never to sell and that their families - perhaps pioneer families - have held for generations and will hold for years to come. With some big estates, perhaps superfine merino properties in New South Wales, Victoria or Tasmania, or even properties of small farmers or properties in the wheat areas, what happens is that the people concerned, often because of high probate duties, have to sell the properties and go out of primary production altogether, to the detriment of the progress and stability of Australia.
– Last week the people of Australia were treated to the unique spectacle of the Duke of Edinburgh delivering an address to a conference and also being interrogated by members of the Parliamentary Press gallery. The royal gentleman’s address was delivered to the Third Commonwealth Study Conference. The theme of that conference, as given in an article in the ‘Financial Review’ of 7th March 1967, was:
The human problems of industrial development and redevelopment in Commonwealth countries.
The article went on:
The object of the conference is to encourage Commonwealth mcn and women, who will be leaders of all branches of industry in their own country in the next generation, to appreciate more fully the human problems posed by industrial development.
The ‘article went on to give the objectives of the Conference:
Its purpose and aims were explained: Science, technology and modern industrial methods have brought about a greater revolution in the daily life of mankind than any other happening in history.’
It should therefore be possible for them to learn from the experience and mistakes of the older industrialised countries.’
There would be no more fertile field for this Conference to study industrial effects than in my own constituency. There we have a notable problem of gross underpayment, particularly of the unskilled operatives in heavy industry, especially the steel industry. In recent weeks there have been mass meetings of employees in these industries in support of demands for a bonus addition to their wages of S6 a week. The average wage paid to an unskilled man at the steelworks at Port Kembla - or perhaps I should say his take-home wage after the usual deductions - is of the order of $33 or £16 10s a week. This is scandalous when compared with the average Australian income, and it has led to very serious industrial unrest and even threats of industrial stoppages. Next week there is to be a conference between management and trade union representatives on this issue. But the point I want to make is that this is part of an overall pattern through which the steel industry is working to its own ultimate long-term disadvantage. It is capable of paying adequate wages and it is not doing so, and it will not do it until it is stood up very firmly on the matter.
So that it will not be thought that I am expressing completely partisan sentiments 1 will read to the House portion of a notable editorial published in the ‘South Coast Times’, a newspaper published twice a week in my constituency, on 6th February last. lt was headed ‘Wage Justice is Key’ and it read:
Over the past decade, local industries’ doors have swung open to thousands of tradesmen from overseas - principally from Great Britain - but have remained firmly closed to their work-seeking wives. 1 might mention here that there are quite a number of jobs in heavy industries that would be suitable for women if the managements would accept the principle of equal pay for equal work. The article went on:
Australia House, London, must shoulder much of the blame for this tragic dilemma. In Britain, many wives of skilled tradesmen choose to work, for various reasons, in light industry, lt is a fair supposition that many leave for Australia believing similar job opportunities exist here. How sadly mistaken they are. . . .
But in their haste to find a solution, it is all too easy (for local authorities) to gloss over the fundamental question of just why women want to work. If it is a question of boredom, the women themselves must find the answer. But if it is a question of necessity, we must look to the economy for the answer in a broader field.
If wage justice prevails there should be little reason for wives, particularly mothers of young children, to seek work to balance the household budget.
The whole economy of our district is being distorted by the gross under-payment of unskilled men. There are 18,000 men employed in the steel works at Port Kembla. Of these, 4,000 are staff and apprentices and men in similar categories, and approximately 14,200 are normal wage employees. 7,200 of them being immigrants from Europe. A notable disservice is being done to Australia because of the adverse reports being sent back to Britain and Europe by these immigrants. We want these people here: how are we to get them and keep them here?
I have raised this question on many occasions and I do so again today with more emphasis than ever before. Unless and until wage justice is granted to these people the problems of my district will intensify. Here is a virgin and fertile field in which this Commonwealth Study Conference could pursue its activities in Australia. I invite that Conference to my constituency and I will give it concrete examples. For a start I could show the delegates to the Conference 5,600 women still unemployed. And the number is growing. I could show them something even worse than that. The last census showed a disparity or imbalance between the male and female populations of Greater Wollongong of no fewer than 10,000. There were 71,000 males and 61,000 females. The steel industry, which is closely linked with the immigration programme in my constituency, has preferred, because of the attendant problems of family housing, to bring in single men if it can. This is a situation that cannot continue. The resulting insufficiency of female companionship causes social problems which undoubtedly exist there and on which I need not dilate now.
We have in Greater Wollongong a fantastic turnover of unskilled labour. I hesitate to give the figures, because the House would not believe them. The tenure of employment of the average unskilled worker in the steel industry is scandalously short. He merely uses the industry as a staging camp as it were until he can get a better job elsewhere - and justifiably so. We have a worthwhile steel industry that is something to be proud of technically. But industrially, and especially in terms of the wages and privileges that it grants to its employees, it is something to be ashamed of. Until WC get wage justice for these men the problems can only intensify. If we are to have stability, wage justice must be accorded these men. Otherwise, ultimately there will be major industrial disorder. Every businessman, every property owner and every citizen in the city of Greater Wollongong has a vested interest in seeing that wage justice is assured for these men. They are not receiving it at present. Every artifice and every device of delay and prevarication is being used to defeat these men in their attempts to gain their objectives. They are entitled to wage justice and better living conditions in the name of common decency and common Christian charity. They have the right to live decently.
Only recently we have witnessed an increase in the tariff at migrant hostels. Whatever the rights or wrongs of that may be, many migrants have put the situation to me in these words: ‘How can we hope, after paying the current tariffs, to be able to save sufficient to get a home of our own? We cannot go to the average co-operative building society for assistance because our wage scales are too low. Our net incomes are such that the societies are not prepared to advance us money.’ There are, of course, notable exceptions to this; 1 am merely generalising. Some building societies are most active and, by straining their rules and policies to the limit, are doing their ‘best to assist. But notwithstanding that, Sir, the position is growing steadily worse, and it will continue to do so. To make matters even worse we have heard recently of an announcement that construction of the new No. 1 blast furnace for the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at Port Kembla is to be postponed, probably until 1 97 1 . This delay will have a further impact by causing a general decline in the rate of development in my constituency.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 8 March (vide page 493), on motion by Mr Hasluck:
That the House take note of the following paper: Foreign Affairs - -Ministeral Statement, 28 February 1967.
- Mr Speaker, first let me say what a comprehensive and good statement was presented to the House by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). He drew to our attention a point which is of interest; it is a point on which I shall dwell in detail. I refer to the course of the conflict in South Vietnam which is demanding all our attention at the moment. He mentioned in his statement that we are very much inclined when speaking of Asia to think only of that part of Asia which is in our immediate area and to think only of South East Asia, lt is hackneyed to say that great changes have taken place in the world in the last twenty years. I do not suppose that greater changes have taken place during any other generation in history. In recent years the focus has been put on Asia and taken away from Europe. Great changes have come about. Russia has modified its policy and is endeavouring to communise the world by persuasion and subversion rather than force. The Chinese, according to their own utterances and documents, say that they aim to conquer by means of arms. The populous countries in our immediate area - India, Japan and Indonesia - are all antiCommunist and they are the ones which will become increasingly important in this sphere.
In referring to the conflict in South Vietnam I want to say that I believe that a great many deductions are based on wrong premises. Many people lose sight of the fact that in the early part of 1965 the war in Vietnam was virtually won by the Communists. They were in command of a great deal of the Mekong Delta, which is a vast area with a population of eight million people in the rice bowl of South Vietnam; they were threatening Saigon and northern cities; they had overrun the highland areas, particularly in the province of Pleiku, and they commanded all the roads from that area to the coast. But they did not, for some inexplicable reason, press home their advantage. This gave the United States of America, in particular, time to make a rapid buildup of military strength. The situation since July 1965 has changed very rapidly until today there would not be very many people who would say that the military situation has not advanced to a stage where the Communists have no hope of winning a straight out war. In fact, in recent months the Communists have not succeeded in any head-on clash with the anti-Communist forces. According to their own documents which have been captured, they are resorting to guerilla warfare and are restricting their efforts in that direction. In 1965 the first task was to stave off the imminent defeat. In 1966 the great build-up to which I have referred took place and the foundations for economic, social and political stability were beginning.
But the struggle in South Vietnam is twofold and the fighting is only one aspect of it. The object of all military action is to establish security, to enable plans for civil reconstruction to be put into operation. This is being done on a highly organised and skilfully planned basis. The United States Agency for International Development has budgeted in this financial year to contribute more than $600m. A great deal has been achieved already on what is known as the revolutionary development. Forces are being trained. One is the popular force which is trained in units of fifty-nine men primarily for a static role in defending government services in education, health, public works, production, marketing and credit. A further very important duty, which is performed also by the police field force, is to take a census of the area which they occupy. This is not an easy task, but by establishing good public relations they can determine who are absent from families. Young men of military age, of course, would be Vietcong. This is a very effective way of obtaining information.
The second force is the field police force which is to a large extent being trained by Australians, among whom are three very notable soldiers from the last war. They are training units in platoons of forty men in the central area of South Vietnam, largely at Dalat, at what has been fairly accurately termed as a South Vietnamese Canungra. The main task of the police field force is one of mobility. In this way it differs from the popular force. It is to garrison, patrol, ambush and collect information. But the object of both forces is to allow civil aid to be given to the South Vietnamese people on an organised, secure and everexpanding basis. The Communists have gained control of the population very largely by terrorism. Some of the horrifying atrocities which have been committed were related to some members of the delegation which visited Vietnam in July last year by a young Melbourne surgeon who was the head of the Australian medical team at Bien Hoa, which is about thirty miles north of Saigon. This young man is a scientist and certainly is not a professional propagandist. He related facts to us and I shall quote shortly from some of the letters which he wrote to a friend. The letters were not written to be published, but they were published, and I believe the Australian people should be grateful that they were published.
He said that the mass casualties that came to the hospital from time to time were very similar in their pattern. Whatever the circumstances, the reason for the assault on the village people was always the same: a village community had refused to cooperate with the Vietcong or obey Vietcong orders, lt was not that they had co-operated with the provincial chiefs or the American,
Australian or South Vietnamese troops who may have been in the area; it was enough that they were neutral. Neutrality is unacceptable to the Communists; it must be destroyed and the survivors cowed into submission, not only to make them submissive, but also as an example to others. The surgeon, Dr Wylie, said that most of these casualties are identifiable as they fall into a repeating pattern. Special targets are the provincial chiefs, the policemen, the schoolteachers and their families, including their children. Some particularised cases mentioned by the young Australian surgeon in letters written to a friend, letters which, I repeat, were not written as newspaper reports but as personal information, have been published and 1 feel that a few of them are of very great interest. They are not just isolated cases but are incidents which he stressed kept recurring.
He referred in one case to a twenty years old schoolteacher who was brought in from an overrun village. She had been trapped, crouched in a corner with hands held to protect her head. The Vietcong, obviously strong, had slashed with backhand and forehand strokes across her face with a sugarcane knife. Multiple wounds extended from her ears exposing her brain. He goes on to detail the ghastly wounds in greater detail. As a teacher she was singled out by the Vietcong for brutal mutilation and a horrible death. She died. The second case concerned a village policeman who was stood up and shot in the face side on. His jaws, nose, cheekbones and eyes were reduced to a ragged, bleeding stump. As with the school teacher, the policeman’s only offence was that he was a policeman and stood for law and order above lawlessness and anarchy. So he was murdered by the Vietcong. The third case involved the pregnant wife of a hamlet chief. She witnessed the strangling of her husband and the murder of her children. She was then shot down by machine gun fire. Later she was taken by helicopter to the hospital at which this young surgeon was officiating. She ultimately survived - having lost the child she was bearing - without a family, without a husband and without legs. As the young surgeon said, her only offence was that she was the wife of a hamlet chief who had not co-operated with the Vietcong.
Tt is interesting to reflect on who are the Vietcong. The Vietcong are acclaimed as the champions of freedom and of free speech. Who are their leaders? We hear quite a deal about Nguyen Huu Tho. The main source of information in this country seems to come from Wilfred Burchett, an Australian journalist who was living in North Korea. During the war in Korea he assisted in the interrogation of Australian troops who were being subjected to all the horrible methods of persuasion that we know took place. He is the arch traitor of our country. I have in my possession four books. Three of them are by Wilfred Burchett and the fourth is by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). There is a marked similarity in the data supplied in those books. For someone who had not been in Asia very much, if at all, before he wrote that book, I think I am reasonable in suggesting that much of the data used by the honourable member for Yarra was obtained from Wilfred Burchett’s books.
In spite of the criticisms and accusations that are made against the present regime in South Vietnam, three or four salient factors are revealed. Firstly, the South Vietnamese have freedom of worship; secondly, they have freedom of assembly; and, thirdly, they have freedom to organise trade unions. As the member of a parliamentary delegation 1 was able to talk to all except two members of the National Leadership Committee and Cabinet of South Vietnam who were absent from the country. Those I spoke to were men of high calibre and of great integrity. Many were professional men. It is interesting to note that when the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), who was also on that trip, returned to Australia he said in this House that after being in South Vietnam he gained the impression that the Ky Government was an honest government. All governments in South Vietnam in recent times have been violently anti-Communist, no matter how much they have differed in other respects. I had the good fortune to discuss the situation in South Vietnam with people who were opposed to the Ky Government politically. They all said the same thing: the Ky Government, in their opinion, was not corrupt and was giving stability to the country - stability it had never enjoyed before. Another significant fact is that in the province of Pleiku the tribal people, the Montagnards, since the activities of antiCommunist forces in the area, have become very pro-Government. This is significant because these people formerly have been individualists and anti almost any authority. While we were in South Vietnam we witnessed the graduation parade of about 1,000 young Montagnard people who had been trained to assist with the type of work undertaken by the popular force and the police force.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) both said that the Australian Government wants the war in Vietnam prolonged to keep the Americans committed in Asia. I find it hard to understand anybody of average intelligence making such a statement, because the only people who could possibly benefit from a prolonged war would be the Communists. This was an irresponsible statement, to say the least. The Leader of the Opposition said that he wanted to see a strong and continuing American presence in our Asian neighbourhood. Surely to goodness we cannot have a strong presence unless it is a military presence. This is a self-evident fact.
I want briefly to refer to the bombing of North Vietnam. This is precision bombing directed against military targets - petrol, oil and lubricant installations and marshalling yards - solely for the purpose of impeding the flow of troops and materials into South Vietnam to help the Communist cause. No sane person advocates war in any form, but what is the more immoral - to engage in such bombing or to infiltrate people into a community and carry out atrocities of the type I have described? Let us negotiate by all means, but negotiation must be two-sided. Ho Chi Minh told his people that South Vietnam would be conquered by October 1965. There is no doubt, in my opinion, that he has suffered some loss of face through having made that statement. The war in Vietnam is not a civil war. The main aggressive force there is the North Vietnamese Army supported morally and materially by Red China. Our participation in that conflct has built up Australia’s prestige in the world, particularly in South East Asia. Our involvement is aimed at limiting the conflict and assisting the people of South Vietnam to rehabilitate themselves and to establish firm leadership of their own choosing. While all war is barbaric, immoral and futile, the peace we strive for, and will continue to strive for must be an honourable, firm and enduring peace.
– lt was my privilege to attend the Session of the United Nations held last year in New York from 20th September through till 20th December. 1 left New York on 10th November to return to Australia due to election commitments. My colleague was the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) and 1 have no doubt that in due course he will convey to the House his impressions, as 1 am about to do now. My designation was that of an alternate delegate. This permitted me to attend meetings of the Assembly and also the other committees. Most of my time was taken up in attending the meetings of the Third Committee. This Committee deals primarily with such things as civil liberties, freedom and social and cultural development. All committees must make their reports to the Assembly for ratification.
The Chairman of the Third Committee was Madame Wasabe of Algeria. The ViceChairman was Professor McDonald of Canada, and the Rapporteur was a representative from Uruguay. The Rapporteur performs the functions of a secretary and has the task of presenting the Committee’s report to the Assembly. The Sessions of the United Nations are held from Monday through to Friday. Sometimes the committees meet after dinner and sometimes on Saturdays, as did the Security Council. As the session nears its end, all committees sit almost continuously so as to enable them to have their reports out before the Assembly adjourns. Like Australia, other nations have parliamentarians attending some sittings as delegates. Canada sends three members of its Parliament and changes them every ten days. This is done to enable as many parliamentarians as possible to get first hand knowledge of the workings of the United Nations. I am speaking, of course, of countries like Australia where an Opposition does exist, not of countries that do not permit parliament to function as it does in the free countries.
The leader of the delegation is normally a person of ministerial rank and quite a large number of these leaders remain for the whole session. I personally think it would be advantageous for Australia to follow this practice. To those who may disagree I point out again that many other countries follow this principle. A number of countries tend to maintain the one representative over a period of years on a particular committee. These persons are regarded as something of specialists in the fields that their particular committees cover but they are not necessarily permanent members of missions of their countries. 1 recall that representatives from Italy, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the United Kingdom had been attending meetings of their particular committees for a considerable number of years. I merely make this point as a matter of interest and offer no further comment.
When the United Nations commences its session, our own delegation is increased. Last year, this was done by bringing in officers of the Department of External Affairs from such places as Canada. Brazil, London and Canberra. Our mission to the United Nations does a very good job. [ think that at this stage it is appropriate for me to acknowledge the unfailing courtesy I received and to thank the members of our mission for the consideration and assistance they rendered to me. lt was as a result of their courtesy and assistance that my stay was made all the more interesting and ever so much easier. 1 am sure, however, that the House will be surprised to know that countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand give their permanent representatives a more generous scale of salaries and allowances than we do. The fact that we lag behind New Zealand, which is about one third the size of Australia, is a matter that is hardly flattering to us. T understand that this question is receiving the attention of our Public Service Board. But this appears to be the pat answer to all such questions. New York is a very expensive place to live in, as those honourable members who have been there will readily agree.
The United Nations also suffers with its financial troubles. As a matter of fact, it has never recovered from the expense incurred in sending a force to the Congo, and it has been running at a deficit ever since. This is due to the failure of France and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to meet their share of the cost and, at the moment, there does not appear to be any likelihood of change of attitude on the part of those countries, both of which are opposed to the policy of the United Nations in sending a force to the Congo. The USSR is most emphatic in its opposition to forces such as the one employed in the Congo.
Each year the United Nations continues to grow and its activities continue to expand. The Organisation is seeking more space. There is talk of further buildings being erected on the present site. This proposition gave rise to debate. Some of the nations, particularly some from the African bloc and the Arab bloc, were critical of New York as being the ideal meeting place. Most of the nations, however, favoured the retention of the present location. Some nations would like some of the agencies moved out of New York. The economic and trade aspects are dealt with by United Nations committees that meet at Geneva. I believe that wherever the United Nations is located, this kind of criticism will be forthcoming from some and I am of the opinion that the majority of delegates would be opposed to any change. It is interesting to remember that the United States of America bears 36% of the total cost of the United Nations.
I found watching the Security Council in session a fascinating experience. As honorable members know, it is made up of five permanent members and ten nonpermanent members. The membership of the non-permanent members rotates as a result of arrangements between member nations. The right of veto belongs only to the permanent members. During the debate on the Israel-Syria dispute I saw the USSR exercise the veto. This action favoured Syria. It is interesting to mention that the veto has been exercised - my figures are approximate - only 123 times. The USSR has exercised the veto 109 times, France five times, Nationalist China four times and the United Kingdom five times. I think it is worth mentioning that as yet the United States of America has never resorted to the use of the veto.
The matters of interest discussed while I was in attendance were Vietnam, the Middle East, South Africa- and Rhodesia, and colonialism. The latter subject saw Australia criticised forcefully by the delegate from the USSR in connection with Papua and New Guinea. These criticisms took place at meetings of the Fourth Committee and of the Trusteeship Council. This has become an annual exercise for the Russians. On the Third Committee, the United Kingdom was the principal target. The United Kingdom delegate, Lady Gaitskell, proved a very able person in defending her Government’s policy. Her late husband was the former leader of the British Labour Party. Each year the Australian Government permits two delegates from Papua and New Guinea to attend. These delegates have proved to be able advocates and defenders of their country’s aims and aspirations.
There are 122 member nations of the United Nations Organisation and it would be unreal to imagine that the atmosphere and background of such a gathering would be without a political content, and its concomitant manoeuvring content. These member nations are classified into blocs - the Western bloc, the Eastern bloc, the Arab bloc, the Latin bloc, and the AfroAsian bloc. No nation attempts to conceal its identity and when a compromise is being sought the respective groups meet, and, in most instances, come up with a formula that is generally acceptable to all concerned.
Vietnam and its effects figure largely in the debates in the Assembly. The Middle East question was before the Security Council on two occasions. This is a highly inflammable subject. The Arabs do not conceal their hostility and opposition to Israel and, due to the latter being surrounded by hostile governments, irrespective of the philosophy that dominates the respective governments, there is no doubt that Israel has been and is being subjected to unrelenting pressure from her neighbours. This is a question that has called for and that will call for an exercise of great restraint if peace is to be preserved in this part of the world. On the two occasions on which the Security Council dealt with this matter it found for Israel on one occasion and against her on the other.
The Arab bloc, which has a population of 100 million people, has many areas of disagreement amongst its members. On this question, however, all members of the bloc are united and this adds to the anxieties and concern of the Government of Israel. I am sure most people will share with that
Government those understandable feelings. South Africa, Rhodesia and, to a lesser degree, Portugal, come in for constant criticism. A feature of the last UN session was the revealed strength of the Afro-Asian bloc. When it submitted motions dealing with South Africa and Rhodesia, it could always depend upon having fifty-two supporting sponsors. When it is remembered that there are 122 member nations, their impact on all decisions will be quite apparent. 1 feel that in years to come their influence will continue to grow. Consequently they will have a great influence in determining the future of the United Nations. From my own experience I must state, with regret, that in my opinion the standing and influence of Australia is not as high today as it was a year ago. This unfortunate decline has been brought about by a number of factors, the major one being the decision of the World Court when it dismissed the claim made against South Africa. The President of the Court at that time was Sir Percy Spender. Under the constitution of the Court the President has two votes - a deliberative vote and a casting vote. On the occasion of that hearing the President had two votes and he cast both in favour of the defendant, South Africa. This caused a great deal of adverse criticism against Australia. The criticism was quite unjustifiable in my opinion, but as there is quite a large emotional content involved in this question no amount of explaining could convince the critics. I do not want to canvass the decision of the Court at any length, but when it dismissed the application on a ground which must have been in existence at the beginning of the case, it was inviting criticism. The World Court took five years to reach a decision and this factor, together with the grounds for its decision, strengthened the feelings of frustration and disappointment of many delegates.
The confusion and bitterness that was so much in evidence as a result of this decision was given further impetus by what to us would be regarded with astonishment; I refer to the action of some judges of the Court who did not sit on this particular case. Some of them criticised the Court and openly declared that if they had sat as members of the Court they would have voted against the opinion that prevailed. To a person such as myself who believes in the detachment of the judiciary this of itself was a novel experience.
No amount of argument could convince a large number of delegates that the opinion of Sir Percy Spender was not the opinion of the Australian Government and when we tried to argue objectively with them they merely replied with a very polite smile. We not only suffered the backlash of this decision in the matter of influence and prestige, but it was directly responsible for the defeat of our candidate when he stood for election to the World Court. Last year five vacancies occurred and Sir Kenneth Bailey, our High Commissioner in Canada, stood for one of the vacancies. There were about twelve candidates. Sir Kenneth Bailey polled very well under the circumstances. He is a jurist of world-wide reputation and experience and his qualifications equalled those of any of the candidates offering. I happened to speak to some delegates before the election and they spoke very highly of Sir Kenneth as a man and of his qualifications, but some of them said: ‘He comes from Australia,’ then smiled and changed the subject. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that the decision of the Court was directly responsible for his defeat.
From my observations and conversations with delegates I found that Australia was being supplanted by Canada in the sphere of esteem and regard by many. They admired what they termed the more independent line that Canada took on all matters. They were critical of what they termed the lack of the formerly independent Australian line. On the credit side, Canada has been very generous with aid in many fields, particularly among the nations of South America, and, further, Canada has avoided involvement in Vietnam. Concerning this latter question, the delegates said that Canada was still making a contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, something which we had not done. Canada has a force of over 6,000 men with NATO and this has been so for many years. Further, there are many people who believe that Canada takes a more independent line in its dealings with countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America than our Government takes.
I will not attempt to debate any of these propositions but I feel they should be stated so as to enable honourable members to get some appreciation of Australia’s standing and reputation according to my observations. There are still a number of observations I would like to make but I will content myself with the present. In the future I hope to bring them before the notice of the House. I have no doubt that there are aspects of the functions of the United Nations that could be criticised. However, in my opinion there is no alternative to the United Nations in such a world as we have today. An uneasy peace prevails in the world and the only instrument capable and available to maintain peace and prevent war on a world scale is this organisation. While it may not have been able to prevent outbreaks of war on a limited scale, it has been responsible for those outbreaks remaining limited and in most cases eventually has brought about their cessation. As is always the case, we tend to forget victories and remember losses. The United Nations has had its victories, not only on the battlefield but on the less spectacular field of peace. Its achievements in the fields of health and economics have been magnificent but the saddening aspect about this is that these achievements have been allowed to pass unnoticed. The world cannot afford to see the United Nations fail.
– After listening to the painstaking and carefully factual speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) when he presented his statement the other night, and then the disappointing, inaccurate and, indeed, misleading speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I find it tempting to devote time to exposing the latter’s inaccuracies. However this will be undertaken in detail by the next speaker from this side of this House, my colleague the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham). I content myself in saying how disappointing it was to me and, indeed, to the nation to find the truth treated so often with a lightness which was scarcely short of amazing. To hear a leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition sneering at our position over Papua and New Guinea and Nauru, leering at the Department of External Affairs, and deliberately misquoting source materials was a sorry sight.
Let me turn to more important matters - things which the nation has a right to hear in a debate such as this. Many of them are things which ought to be said by a good Opposition. In the absence of leadership in that direction let me turn to a constructive and, I hope, critical appreciation of our present position. The war in Vietnam today is only one part of a global struggle. It is an essential part of that wider struggle. But it would be just as dangerous for us to concentrate our efforts on fighting in this one sector to the detriment of the rest as it would be to neglect this sector or to surrender it, allegedly in reliance on success in the wider field. The larger battle is one of mankind’s search for a way of life. The alternatives are age long: tyranny versus freedom, order versus chaos. Yesterday the enemy was Fascism; today the overt enemy is Communism. But the great central issue for mankind is not Communism versus democracy, but whether an acceptable system or rule for living can be found which gives all men the chance to progress towards dignity, opportunity and freedom from fear, want and oppression.
The policy of containing aggressive Communism today by military means alone is dangerously inadequate. Even military means plus material aid are not enough. The Vietnamese Communists or the Chicoms may be halted at a parallel of latitude only for us to find that the things we imagined we were defending have been destroyed behind our backs; that the fear, tyranny and chaos are here at home. Frankly - and 1 ask this question of each Australian - are we in the non-Communist world moving in the direction of a saner, safer or fairer society? At times I wonder. There is evidence that so-called Christian society is cracking at the seams. The basic sanctions of our moral and legal world are adrift. Of course we still talk and wax sentimental at times about freedom, peace, love and brotherhood but our behaviour in too many circumstances is possibly deteriorating. As the honesty, integrity, self-discipline of any community diminishes, so stronger controls become necessary, whether on the roads or over the activities of packs of hoodlums. The only hope for security, peace and freedom in a society which has lost the will to discipline itself at the level of the individual is discipline imposed and insisted upon from without. The nations and the world are at the crossroads. If we are unable to produce an answer as free men, acting voluntarily, we will be forced to accept an imposed answer which curtails our freedom.
What are some of the things which act explosively to challenge our world today? The first things that come to anyone’s mind are the dual conditions of hunger and want. There is today no immediate and easy answer to starvation - starvation on a scale that will threaten our society by the horror of unrelieved famine - unless discipline is exercised. Handouts, even on a massive scale, will serve only to make the final disaster greater and more certain. Discipline in procreation, discipline in conservation, discipline in production, discipline in pro.filmaking - these are the fundamental cures. Let me take an example: the world cannot withstand the experience of unrelievable famine in the sub-continent of India. India faces decision. One way would lead her into (he arms of the Communists. There is little hope that this would occur without a ruthless razing of India’s national fabric - her religions, her family life and traditions, her economic structure and her political institutions, is it too late for another answer? The history of our part of the world at least will be determined to a large measure by the result of this situation. Yet what are we in Australia doing? What can we do? Unless we find out, and quickly, I believe we are self condemned.
Take another issue - the race in the world towards sou! destroying affluence by some and the bitter struggle to exist of others. We shoot at the moon yet waste food and resources which could mean life and hope for masses at our doors. Can we of our own volition curb and discipline this process? Are we Australians prepared to harness our own galloping affluence so as to act responsibly towards the age in which we live? The next decade will see a tremendous expansion in the standard of living of this country. By 1975 we can look forward to another $ 1.000m coming into the country from metal exports and to a saving of more than half of our petroleum bill by production from our own resources. In other words, the economic barometer for this little land is set fair.
The test of this age and especially of this Government will be: has it the guts to take this exciting yet dangerous prospect by the forelock and launch an adventurous policy of building a truly great society - not great because of our plenitude of cars, motor cruisers, colour television and swimming pools, but great in terms of responsibility; of self discipline in providing money and resources for the education not only of our own children but also of those of our neighbouring nations, for aid to needy countries at our door and for the needs of our own aged and infirm? If we do not do these things adequately as a demonstration to our neighbours, then the affluent society of which we are a part is in danger of becoming the effluent society.
The trouble about the war in Vietnam - the soul destroying thing about it in my book - is not the fact that here at last we have acted to halt aggression but that we are doing it with only a few, and the rest of us are doing so little. How dare we ask young men to give their lives if we at home have no greater philosophy than business and pleasure as usual? If this is the time to act to halt a slide into godless, materialistic totalitarianism, let us be consistent. Are we to say ‘no’ to the poor struggling peasants who recognise no hope other than the godless materialistic dictatorship of Ho Chi Minh but do precisely nothing about the people and forces within our own borders who have set their hands on a course of godless, materialistic, totalitarian behaviour? Let us make no mistake: there are increasing signs in our own land - still slight, thank God - of practices and philosophies which are no more desirable, in my book, than those of Mao Tse-tung or Ho Chi Minh. I do not want to exaggerate here for as yet most of our people are sound and sane. But they are also troubled. They are troubled by the increasing disregard for the rule of law. They are troubled by the sight of the Prime Minister and the President of the United States of America being subjected to mobbing and even violence. They are troubled by the packs of amoral teenage hoodlums in our streets. They are troubled by the destruction of the freshness and decencies of youth by cynical vested interests which encourage and seduce them into the jungles of teenagia. They are troubled by the breaking down of moral sanctions and the increasing irresponsibility of some sectors of our most venerated institutions and professions. They are troubled by the wider, less personal things too, such as the slaughter on our roads and the refusal of the law makers and the law enforcers to deal with the major causes because to do so would b: unpopular. They are troubled by the far off spectacle of a nuclear arms race. Out of all this trouble they look for substantial hope.
Let me say a solemn word: unless the freely elected governments of this land find and sell an active acceptable answer to these things they will be submerged by a period of growing chaos, out of which a strong and ruthless leadership will emerge. This will institute by force a discipline which we have been unwilling to accept of our own free will. Like all dictatorships, there will then be none of the freedom of movement, of the discrimination or of the regard for personal qualities such as are found in a living democracy. There will be only tha frighteningly dead, insensitive, soulless uniformity of rule by force, which will reduce everything and everybody to the same ground level of existence.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will cease the action he is now engaged in and resume his seat.
Or MACKAY- The bombing of North Vietnam is a case in point, lt is in one sense a corollary of the war in the south. lt can readily be justified on the grounds of military necessity - of saving the lives of our men in the South. It can be attacked, too, by those who are being defeated by it and by their dupes. It can be denounced by political opportunists who do not trouble to include honesty in their repertoire, such as the Leader of the Opposition who the other night deliberately falsified the statements of Mr McNamara by omitting some of his most important sentences. That kind of thing is beneath contempt.
Yet the bombing of North Vietnam is in a special way a bombing of Australia as well. The explosive which destroys innocent lives as well as guilty, no matter whether by mistake or not, also destroys something in us. Unless we are already facing the same challenges as are the Vietnamese and our own fighting men and are prepared to sacrifice as much as they In the decisions which confront us, then someting in us dies too.
– What is the honourable gentleman sacrificing?
– We talk a lot about Asia.
– I repeat: what is the honourable gentleman sacrificing?
-Order! The honourable member for Reid has already spoken in the debate. He must cease interjecting.
– We speak of our intertwining interests with Asia - even of our inevitable involvement for the rest of history. But is this not eyewash? What do we really care about Asia? What do we care about the march of Communism in Asia? Is our only answer to fight it with guns and bombs? What are we doing to win the real war, the war of ideas? What are we doing even to train and equip our own youth with a better set of ideas? ls the answer to a militant, ambitious, disciplined ideology a laissez-faire careless indifference - a ‘site’s right mate’ approach when she’s anything but right? Can we match unselfish dedication on the part of the Communists with selfish irresponsibility on our part? Long before the birth of Christ Plato warned us of the dangers of not facing this challenge soon enough. He warned that if democracy decays into selfishness and liberty into licence, those who finally attempt to halt the decline will be declared to be reactionaries and the enemies of the people. Plato described it thus. He said that in this decadent democracy:
You are not obliged to be in authority, however competent you may be - or to submit to authority if you do not like it. You need not Tight when your fellow citizens are at war, nor remain at peace when they do so . . . among the young insolence is called good breeding, anarchy freedom, waste magnificence and impudence’ a manly spirit. . . .
He went on:
An insatiable desire for liberty, to the neglect of everything else, may change a democracy and lead to a demand for despotism. . . . The citizens become so insensitive that they resent the slightest application of control as intolerable tyranny, and in their resolve to have no master they end by disregarding even the law, written or unwritten So the only outcome of too much freedom is likely to be excessive subjection, in the state or in the individual.
Plato also spoke of the remedy, or rather the avoidance of this disaster, when he said:
The law-giver, as a good physician of the body politic, should take measures in advance. . . .
What measures must Australia take now? In my book, the thing most to be avoided as Plato shows, is the move towards despotism. The answer for democracy lies in a different direction - not so much in curbs as in prevention; not in enforced obedience so much as in a stimulated desire for the right way; not so much in restrictions and censorship and police methods, though these all have some part, as in the provision of an attractive, adventurous alternative. lt is my opinion that the people of this nation are looking for such a leadership. 1 believe it can be found here, in this Party, wilh its virile, popular and wise Prime Minister, with this large group of men and women, so many of them young, even very young, lt can be found but not only here. This is a task as wide as the nation itself. But the tragedy of our day is that, instead of the Parliament presenting to the nation a picture of people with the united idea of Australia and where it can go. in every debate that affects our destiny it seems to me that we have opposition merely for the sake of opposition. We have opposition merely for the sake of differing from the Government. This comes from an Opposition that should bring constructive criticism. Instead we have hurled at us facts or statements that are less than facts, with no basis in reality, and they are used only to obstruct the processes of the Parliament.
This is the challenge confronting us as a people and as a Parliament in the next few years. Conservatism, reaction and selfinterest can be as dangerous to our future as their opposites. The nation is waiting to be fired with a plan, a hope, a picture of our goals and objectives. Unless we here do that thinking, we will be replaced, and rightly, by those who do.
– I am a reasonably tolerant socialist character, but I am tired of the moralising that takes the place of political perception with so many of the honourable members on the Government side. The epitome of this was the speech we have just heard from the honour able member for Evans (Dr Mackay). He supports the Liberal Party of Australia - a Party that stands for hanging, for flogging, for the gerrymandering of electorates and for affluence itself. Yet he has the hide and the brass to stand in this Parliament and say that one of the factors that will ruin us is the pursuit of soul destroying affluence. He stands behind a political party that is dedicated to one political proposition and that is that private profit is the main element in the community, the real hope and the road to glory. This is the sort of nonsense that has been introduced into debates in the Parliament and I want to register my emphatic protest that it is brought here in such a - I was about to say hypocritical way’, but I understand that is unparliamentary. I leave it to honourable members opposite to examine my assertion and let their consciences determine what their actions mean.
The honourable member for Evans referred to the young members of the House and said that they were bringing to this place attractive and adventurous spirits and ideas. Some honourable members opposite are in their twenties. They have come here supporting a policy of conscripting people only a few years younger than themselves to carry their burdens and make their sacrifices in Vietnam. I agree with the honourable member for Evans that something has happened to the nation when we have come to this state of affairs. This is not the kind of Australia I thought it was, and I do not believe it is the kind of Australia that most Australians wish it were. So first let me make an emphatic denial of the pessimism that was in ibc honourable member’s voice and his speech and that runs as a theme through the speeches of so many honourable members opposite. T believe in recent times we have gone through a watershed of history and that some of its significant points have escaped the notice of even the most astute commentators opposite and many commentators outside the Parliament. The time has come to re-evaluate our place in this part of the world and the way our nation is developing. The current political gimmick used by honourable members opposite is to examine some statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and say he was wrong. They generally avoid any definition of the error. That is the current political gimmick of Government supporters. 1 should like to answer one or two of the points made by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong). He attacked my colleague, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). He referred to Wilfred Burchett, the Australian journalist and writer, and called him a traitor. Then he associated my colleague from Yarra with him. This is the kind of dialectical, illogical and unethical argument to which we have become accustomed. This is the sort of tactic that honourable members opposite have brought into politics. It is strongly supported by the honourable member for Evans in his pursuit of justice, truth and so on. The honourable member for Yarra can defend himself here but Mr Burchett cannot. Of course, we can read Mr Burchett’s books about Vietnam and we can read his commentaries and compare them with the writings of Harrison Salisbury. I am not on either side; 1 speak as an Australian who has the strong Australian belief that humanity is all-important and that our policy on international affairs should be to stop people killing each other. But I do wish we could get into this House some approach that realises that facts are important and should not be confused simply by looking the other way or by using another term.
The honourable member for Riverina said there is freedom of association in South Vietnam. What nonsense that is. Of course there is no such thing. It is not a democracy and is not likely to become one. In the way the French left the country, it is most unlikely that even the greatest genius of politics could produce a democracy there. The Buddhists say that the South Vietnam Government is tyrannical and dictatorial, that they are not consulted and that their leaders are in gaol. Yet honourable members opposite speak of the freedom of association in the country. The element that seems to control the foreign policy of this Government is that, wherever our allies become intransigent, belligerent or aggressive, the Australian Government will be more so. When the Americans want to act in a certain way or look as if they want to negotiate, our Government takes the opposite view. The former Prime Minister of Aus tralia said: ‘If I am the last Prime Minister to denounce negotiation, I will do so’. Other events have come to our notice in the last few weeks. I go back to Suez. At that time when the British were belligerent we wanted to be more belligerent. We have introduced double standards into these debates.
I do not deny - there may be no justification for a denial - that the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation - Front continue to build up their forces during a truce. That is dreadful. Honourable member opposite say: ‘Fancy them doing that’. But they do not claim that every American ship stops on its voyage across the Pacific during a period of truce, that there is no build-up on American arms or munitions, that every factory in the United States stops its production line and docs not put its goods onto trains to be carried across the country to ships and that the American build-up does not continue. It would be utter rubbish to suggest that the Americans act in this way. We have all been in wars; we have all been around. We know how nations act during a war. I am not claiming that it is right or wrong to do this. But it is nonsense to argue that, because the North Vietnamese are doing what we are doing, they are being mischievous and malicious. This sort of argument has no place in a parliamentary debate.
I want to ask a few questions about the military problem. We are told in newspaper articles that we are winning. The Minister said yesterday that we are having great successes in South Vietnam. I will ask one question: why have not the borders between South Vietnam and Laos and between North Vietnam and South Vietnam been sealed? The border between North Vietnam and South Vietnam is forty or fifty miles long and, as far as one can ascertain from observation and from maps, the country is flat. The North Vietnamese have no artillery or armour of any significance. They face one of the richest and most powerful military nations in the world. They oppose a Government in South Vietnam - I do not say which is right or wrong - which claims to govern a larger population than we have in Australia. It would seem to me to be a simple, elementary military project to close the border. Yet when I was there in July I was told that a full division had infiltrated across tha border. Many honourable members have seen a full division on parade, with arms and so on. But there is a military fallacy here.
Of course, it is argued that the border between Laos and South Vietnam is more difficult, but it is nowhere as difficult as New Guinea. In New Guinea the Australian troops had considerable success during World War II. I believe we have allowed ourselves to be caught up in some fallacious military thinking. The American military philosophy, based on interdiction and fire power of the sort the Americans use, will not produce the result we want. I would pose this question: If you believe that the North Vietnamese are the principal devils in this piece and that they are the ones with whom you will find a solution, you ought to take every step to stop them getting into South Vietnam. Of course, that is the basis of the bombing theory - the precision bombing of which the honourable member for Riverina spoke. He has had enough military experience to know full well that not too many people in air forces are very accurate in pin-pointing their bombing. My successor in the debate will probably demonstrate this.
If you want to stop the North Vietnamese from participating in the war you should seal the borders. If that were done there would be no need to ask them to negotiate. The solutions would all lie in South Vietnam. Honourable members might say that is a simple enough thing; if it were possible it would have been done. One of the lessons of history is that generals, politicians and others can make fantastic errors. I am open to discuss this and to be converted on it. I believe that it could be done and that it ought to have been done if the argument of honourable members opposite is fair dinkum.
What ought to be our aims? First of all I think we have to stop taking sides. 1 belong to the school of thought which believes that it is an act of barbarism to go down a street and throw a bomb into a restaurant and murder people. I maintain equally that it is an act of barbarism to fly at 30,000 feet and drop a bomb and kill people in that way. The Australian objective ought to be to stop this war, with all the unfor tunate people who are caught up in it. Moreover, we have to get the political forces in Vietnam, the armed forces, the national liberation front and the Buddhists together. It is my belief that while we are militarily committed in Vietnam we cannot possibly do that. We have committed ourselves to the field; we cannot also be the umpires. I believe this would be our most fruitful exercise.
In August or July last I passed through Djakarta. I called on the North Vietnamese Ambassador. Later I was in South Vietnam and J was able to talk to Ministers there. Why cannot somebody of higher status than I - with the status of Australia behind him or supported by us - get these people together somewhere and start negotiations? Perhaps it has been done but we see no evidence of it. lt is the non-constructive pessimism behind it all and the acceptance of power as a pursuit of world affairs that is the fundamental error of this Government. That is why we cannot have a bipartisan foreign policy. That is why the Labor Party is not opposing the Government’s policy just for opposition’s sake. I believe that there are moral issues involved and I find it difficult to understand how honourable members opposite can become involved in this matter in the way they have. When the rest of the world is not participating, J find it difficult to understand how, out of the 120 or so members of the United Nations and the five or six nations who are not in that organisation, it is only Australia that has the great moral capacity to participate. Why is that only young Australians arc expendable? So, this is an issue of pessimism versus optimism; of faith in the future, in people and in co-operation on the one hand, and of non-faith on the other hand. There is an attitude towards politics which is based on power and an attitude which is based on the idealism of which the United Nations is the latest manifestation. I hope that honourable members will reconsider carefully the speech of my friend the honourable member for Dalley (Mr O’Connor) because in what he said lies the principal hope for the future.
What should we be doing? I think that the problems of our foreign policy are these: we cannot throw our weight of battleships into the world but we can do something to initiate international discussion. I believe that we ought to be developing through the United Nations a guarantee of boundaries. I have come to the belief that the thing to do is to ensure that every boundary that we can guarantee should be made sacrosanct or sacred, call it what you will.
– What about New Guinea?
– All of them. This is a matter for international co-operation. They should be altered not by military force but by negotiation alone. Let us take a matter which 1 can see possibly coming up in our own neighbourhood, the boundary between Portuguese Timor and Indonesian Timor. In the recent past it would have been possible - perhaps it may well bc in the future - that one of these countries which shall remain nameless would have liberated the other. We would have immediately found ourselves faced with a great moral difficulty - I will have to name the country - because Portuguese Timor is controlled by a dictatorship. However, it is my belief that we ought to try to establish in the world at large the idea that nobody crosses frontiers unless they are asked to do so or as a result of negotiation. We might find that we have to protect people who are dictatorial and mischievous, but we would have to do it. It is to our advantage in the world, developing as it is, with about 120 nations, that that should be done. This is a different world to what it was. Empires are gone. Conquest might linger in the minds of some as being desirable, but it is out. Why should anybody try to invade this country for instance? Why should the Japanese want to? The honourable member for Evans might look at this. He talked about the millions we will make by the sale of our assets. The fact is that we are giving them away at 6d a ton. We ought to be guaranteeing boundaries. We ought to be developing international co-operation at every level. We do have this already. Tremendous international co-operation is taking place. Back in July I posted a letter to Hanoi which was delivered and I eventually got an answer. It had crossed all the frontiers. We have the Universal Postal Union and the World Health Organisation. There is a great level of international co-operation carrying on beneath the pessimism of the political pronouncements of my friends opposite.
We should be attempting to produce stability. Here I agree with the sentiments of the honourable member for Evans. India, I believe, is the cornerstone of Asia, in this land we have approximately one-eighth of the people of the world. Get India prosperous, get it stable and guarantee its borders and I believe you will solve many problems. We often overlook the achievements of India. The latest election in that country was a great dramatic, democratic event. It does not matter that something went wrong and that the wrong people got elected or that people threw stones at one another. That has even happened in that stronghold of freedom the electorate of Wills as my friend the honourable member for Scullin will tell you. Sometimes politics have been sorted out in a rather vigorous way. The recent election in India was a dramatic demonstration to the world that parliamentary government can succeed and I believe that India is a cornerstone nation.
However, there are a few fallacies which 1 should like to lay on the line. The first is in relation to the spread of Communism. We have been told that Communism is going to seep over the borders, into Cambodia, then into Thailand, then to Malaysia and that it will not stop until the last Tasmanian is fighting on the southern slopes of Mount Wellington, ls that the way it has gone? There are thirteen or fourteen Communist countries in the world. How did they become Communist? Russia became Communist of course through civil war - by revolution. Cuba became Communist by revolution and civil war; Vietnam by revolution and civil war. The rest of them - 1 will not bother reading them out now as 1 have only five minutes to go - became Communist by military occupation by Russia. This goes for North Korea and for all the countries of eastern Europe. Probably the only country which did not become Communist this way was Mongolia. There is not one single instance of a neighbour bringing Communism by means of subversion successfully to its next-door neighbour. If there has been, let honourable members tell me what it is.
All I ask is that in the community in which we live - one of the free-wheeling countries of the world and one which ought to be putting the signposts up for the rest of the world to follow - is that we place on the record facts and not fallacies, specifics and not generalities for the Australian people who have demonstrated in their time that they are quite capable of democratic decisions and abstract decisions on matters of philosophy and policy although in the last ten years they have been continually confused with the propaganda organs of the people opposite. The same goes for China. We have had the recent demonstration of the skill of propaganda in the leaflet which was shown to me last night by my friend from Reid, lt is said that the arrows of Communism are pointing out from China. Is this really true? Do the people of Laos believe that this is so?
– They do not. I am prepared to admit that the North Vietnamese are enjoyed in active aggression against the people of Laos and we probably ought to be doing our best at the United Nations to have something done about it. But in fact it is not Chinese aggression. It is not Chinese aggression against North Vietnam.
– What Mao Tse Tung said in his book he does not mean?
– I have his statements here and I have also statements by Sir Robert Menzies, Sir Winston Churchill, the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and other such people. They could not sound more aggressive and conquistadorial. You could not improve on some of the things that they have said but they were not able to carry them out at all. We are creating a Chinese neurosis. What we should be doing for all these countries is what I said in the first instance we should do. We should be establishing at the United Nations permanent guarantees that every one of their borders will be secure, whether it be with Afghanistan, with the USSR, with Mongolia or with any other country. Incidentally, I am pleased to learn that Mongolia has at last been recognised. I visited that country two or three years ago. It is a small country in terms of population and perhaps it is of little significance, but at least we have recognised that its people have an independent existence, and the country now has a vote at the United Nations. We have established, I believe, as a result of the visit of the Mongolian representatives to the Meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the treatment we accorded them here, a small island of close friendship in East
Asia as a result of the visit here of delegates from Mongolia.
There are a number of other points I would like to make before I close. First there is the fallacy of sending more troops. 1 do not think military action in Vietnam will produce any worthwhile result for us. There are three alternatives available to us-civil action, diplomatic action or military action. Take military action first. If the Australian Government were dinkum it would say: ‘We will send 400,000 men and we will finish this off’; but it does not. If it were dinkum it would say: ‘We will conscript the thirty-year-olds and we will let them have a say’ - and I would have some respect for the community that voted in favour of such a course. Nothing can come from our military action but sacrifice.
I believe that by electing to take military action we have removed ourselves from the diplomatic sphere. It is sad that Australia in recent years has underrated its capacity for diplomatic initiative. I remind honourable members of the occasions on which Australian diplomatic action has been successful in the past. There were the crises over Israel and Indonesia, and there was the period from 1946 to 1949 when our diplomatic efforts in the United Nations were extremely well received. I have not time now to reply to the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) who is trying to interject, but I commend to him the publication ‘Australia in World Affairs’ by Greenwood and Harper. The particular passage is at page 108 - I will make it as easy as possible for the honourable member - and if he will read down that page he will see the validity of my contention that Australia was one of the definite initiators of international action on the diplomatic level which, in relation to both Israel and Indonesia, turned out to be amongst the most effective of such efforts in international history.
– Who was the Minister for External Affairs then?
– It was Dr Evatt at that time. Australia is continually underrating its diplomatic strength and I believe we must exhibit to the world the generally independent spirit that the average Australian shows in his individual affairs, but which seems to fail him when he gets to tha stage of forming or being part of a government. The present Government seems to have become petrified, and it is leading us all in the direction of becoming a nation of sheep.
– In my remarks this afternoon, Mr Speaker, I wish to outline some of the aid that has been given to the countries of South East Asia. 1 cannot go all the way with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), because when he talks about the threat of Communism in South East Asia I think it is only fair to mention that those who have been to some of the countries in that area where Communism does not prevail - as has the honourable member for Wills himself - have found the people in those countries rather fearful of Communism and looking for help from as many people as possible to keep Communism out. This is what I have been told by the people themselves. What they have told other people J could not say. The Prime Minister of Singapore was pretty definite on the matter, as was the Prime Minister of Malaysia. So was the Prime Minister of the Philippines and so also was the lender of the Burmese people, although that is a Socialist country. That gentleman was rather cautious in what he said, but he obviously was not very happy with the red flag Communists on one border and the white flag Communists on the other. From what I could gather, he wanted them kept out and kept out completely.
Recently the Australian institute of Political Science held its thirty-third summer school in Canberra, and I would like to remind the House of the speech delivered at that school by Dr Goh of Singapore. A report of it appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 30th January. It was headed ‘Communism in Asia’, and it had a sub-heading ‘Use Secret Police to Beat Reds, says Minister.’ Here was a man who came all the way from Singapore to deliver an address in Australia and warn us that we must have a force of secret police if we are to keep Communists in check. Mr Lee Kuan Yew told me that he was quite concerned about what might happen in Singapore if Britain ever got out. Well, it is pretty obvious that Britain is going to get out, although when this will happen I am not in a position to say. But from what I can read in the news papers - and they represent about my only source of information - there is a general contraction of British activities, and troops are returning to Europe. As the British influence recedes in South East Asia it may be necessary for us to play a bigger part. Until now America has played the biggest part in South East Asia, but a time will come when the Americans will return to their homeland, and what will happen then? I remember the distress expressed by some people in this House over Indonesia’s confrontation of Malaysia. Was confrontation right? Was it right to stop Indonesia carrying on in the way that she did? Were we right when we went to Malaysia to stop the insurgents there? We must think of all these things, analyse the results of our actions and see what has happened since.
In 1954 when the Geneva Convention was signed some very powerful speeches were made in this chamber. I just want to remind the House of some of the sentiments expressed then. Here is one statement that was made:
This brings us to the crucial question: what can be done about military aggression in the Pacific and South East Asia? And what practical measures should be considered? We must face that fact, which was emphasised during World War It, that our future as a European nation in this part of the world is intimately bound up with the United States of America.
That was said on 5th August 1954, and the same speaker went on to say:
The Australian Labor Party has always favoured a policy of regional and military agreements in relation to the Pacific and South East Asia.
We must face the fact that any regional military arrangements cannot be made without incurring military commitments.
Those were the remarks of Dr Evatt, speaking in this chamber. In the same debate these comments also were made:
We cannot survive in this part of the world unless we shelter under the protecting wing of the American eagle. We have to be friendly with the United States of America, and we ought to promote the greatest possible friendship with that country.
That was a statement by Mr Calwell. Here is something else that was said in that debate:
Like all members of the Labor Party and tha Leader of the present Government, I welcome tha proposal for the formation of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. It is a formula for defence, but we must face the fact that it can also be a formula for offence, otherwise it will be quite u useless. . . . Our holiday has ended and we must accept our responsibilities with our allies, the friendly democracies of the world.
That was Mr Haylen. He also said in the same speech:
We must be on the side of democracy. There are only two great powers, Russia and America. Why should not Australia, whatever our political views may be. turn as we did in World War II, without inhibitions, to those who can help us. . . We do not suffer a loss of prestige and character by turning to America.
I believe in those things. The sentiments expressed at that time still apply so far as I am concerned, and it is a matter of concern to me that at present in some parts of Australia there is developing quite an antiAmerican feeling, although I admit it is not very pronounced as yet. I do not want to set myself up as a champion of America, but there is something that I do want to say. I am proud to have served with the Americans during World War II. I remember that when I came back to Australia after spending the first three years of the War in the Atlantic it was my job, while HMAS ‘Westralia’ was in Cairns, to get some American troops on board and to take them to a beach for a landing in New Guinea. They were pretty hot and tired and I was bundling them on board as fast as I could, because the ship had to get away. One GI stopped, looked at me and said: Why should I hurry for you “bastewards”? I have come 8,000 miles to do this. You don’t have to do it yourself; so don’t hurry me.’ That stuck in my mind for a long time. Our fighting men are now fighting alongside the Americans, but no matter what we do it will take us a lot to repay them for what they did for us when the chips were down. In the strategy of global warfare it was not necessary for Australia to have been saved. But we literally got down on our hands and knees and said: For God’s sake come here and give us a hand*. That was not in accordance with the theory of the War in those days. The theory was to get the War over in Europe first.
I am grateful that the Americans came here to help us, and saved the day. In the early days of the War the situation in Europe was pretty desperate. I think it is just as well to remember that it was so desperate that the British Empire stood alone fighting for its very existence. A plan to buy fifty obsolete destroyers from the United States was thought up. It was believed that this would help to turn the tide in the Atlantic. We got those fifty obsolete destroyers. Not very long afterwards, the British said to the Americans: Why do you not establish a base in Iceland?’ So America put a base there. Those who happened to take part in convoy work in the Atlantic know that because the Americans were taking stores there they sent their own warships to protect their convoys. This was early in 1941 before America was at war. We tagged along under the protection of the American warships because, although America was not at war, she considered that we were worth helping. I made a telephone call only today to find out the name of an American warship that was torpedoed and sunk some 600 miles west of Ireland in October 1941 while engaged on these duties. So as far as I am concerned, America has been pretty good to this country. Before I get on to the civilian aid which America has given I want to say something-
– United States has a quid in it.
– No, I have not received anything out of it.
– I said that the United States has a quid in it.
– Take no notice of him.
– That is all right. He is a good friend of mine. We may differ in our attitudes, but we are still good friends. I want to say something about the Foreign Affairs Committee. I would like members of the Australian Labor Party to join this Committee. I believe that whether or not they agree with the Government they should be in a position to see some of the documents which are put before that Committee and which could be described as classified. Labor members could then get a better idea of what is going on. I have indicated my wish to join this Committee, but I do not want to push myself on to it if anybody is upset by the thought that my being appointed to it might keep somebody else off it. I hope that the Australian Labor Party will consider allowing its members to join this Committee so that they may learn what is going on. I am aware that a lot of the information put before the Committee is classified, but I believe that it would be good for Labor members to see that material whether or not they agree with the Government. They should see it.
– Why has not the honourable member said this before?
– I have said it in the past.
– The honourable member knows that he has not said it. What are the conditions?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Fox)Order! The honourable member for Reid will cease interjecting.
– Let me now turn to what is happening in Vietnam. Bombing is taking place in Vietnam, admittedly, but a great deal of civilian aid is being given. Much of the aid that has been given has been in the form of education. This has been an investment in the future of the people. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) gave a very full report on aid in an answer that he gave last week to a question on notice asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Honourable members would do well to read that answer. They would see that the aid that has been given is vast. I did not have any conception that it was so great. The war has not been just a matter of raining down bombs without doing anything about the welfare of the people. A lot of aid has been given. At the present time 2 million students are enrolled in schools. That is 700,000 more than in 1960. America, Australia and the Republic of China, or free China, and others will put 14 million textbooks in the hands of the Vietnamese children this year. Over 9 million have already been delivered. More than 4,000 village school classrooms have been built by the Agency for International Development and 2,500 more village self help programmes have been started. Meanwhile, 5,900 teachers have been trained and 1,700 more are being provided each year. Furthermore, 10,000 Vietnamese are receiving vocational education under this programme. Since 1958 more than 700 factories have been built or expanded to strengthen the country’s economy. This has provided more than 100,000 new jobs. The industrial education index rose by 2i% between 1962 and 1964 and is still rising. Rice production rose by 500,000 tons during the same period. Since 1957, 600,000 acres of farm land have been distributed among 115,000 farmers. Under a new phase of the programme a further 650,000 acres are being distributed to some 150,000 farmers.
As I said, Mr Deputy Speaker, a vast civil aid programme’ is going on. I know that as soon as the war ceases all the countries that have the welfare of the people of South Vietnam at heart will make an even bigger effort. We all regret the bombing and the fighting. This war is not the wish of free people. But we want to see the South Vietnamese live the life they choose. The fish catch in South Vietnam has more than doubled over the past two years and is now about 370,000 tons. More than half a million of acres of farm land have been brought under irrigation. Think what this means in terms of human rights and human dignity. This is something that these people have never had before. We have been told that they have had wars for thirty or forty years. But this is the first time that other people have gone there and said: ‘We shall give you a hand to put this area in order’. It is here that the basic irony lies because President Johnson’s thought on this matter was expressed when he said that he will spend $US1,000m in the area - and he will - for the good of the people. This is the sort of thing that will do much for the people of that country. I hope, the same as all honourable members hope, that the bombing soon ceases. But I know from my own point of view that it is wrong to suggest that the bombing should stop while people are infiltrating and making the job much harder. As I have said, my information comes from the Press, but the fact is that as soon as the bombing ceases there is greater infiltration.
I was glad to hear on the radio this morning that the Australian troops have just finished a project in Vietnam and have handed it over to the civil authorities in the form of a new library. This is the sort of thing the Australian Army does. It has been doing it for years. When I was in Malacca about three or four years ago with the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), we saw a youth centre which the troops had built and handed over to the young people. I hope that the people of Australia will come forward and help the Army with its civil aid programme; I hope that people will volunteer to go there as part of the civil aid scheme; and I hope that when our men return the people will give them the admiration which they justly deserve. I have been told that honourable members from both sides of the House who have been to Vietnam have asked the men: ‘Do you like being here?’ The average Australian says that it is not so good, but they have said: ‘We are here to do a job and we are proud of the job we are doing.’ That is why I felt so upset when I had to speak in the House on Tuesday about the holding up of the supply ship. I was not having a shot at anyone. I have not a vicious nature, but I do not like seeing this happen. I became very upset and 6,000 of our men have been left out on a limb because one union says that the ship will not be manned. That is not the policy of the Australian Labor Party. I have paid a tribute to Mr Calwell who said in this place that he did not believe the men should be there, but now that they are there we should do our best to maintain them. I go along with that.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have followed this debate on foreign affairs with considerable interest, particularly the speeches of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in his reply and the speeches which have been made today. I do not think it is a terribly simple or easy task for the Minister to cover in one speech the whole range of complexities of Australia’s relationships with the world and all of those things that are happening today in a fast changing world. If there is one criticism that I would offer, not of the Minister but of the general debate in the Parliament, it is that in the debates on external affairs very often our canvas is too wide so that in our attempt to range over the whole complexity of world affairs we possibly are unable to give as much attention to detailed problems as we should give. Much of the discussion has centred on the situation in Vietnam. I shall return to my remarks on that unhappy country shortly.
I was very happy to hear the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday of last week in which he outlined his views and the views of the Australian Labor Party on where Australia stands today. I have heard some criticism from the Government side of the House because the Leader of the Opposition raised some unpopular questions. I have heard it suggested that it was wrong that he should refer to Australia’s attitudes and its administration in the Trust Territory of New Guinea, our own Territory of Papua and in the Trust Territory of Nauru. These have been condemned by a very large vote in the United Nations. I do not think for one moment that the Leader of the Opposition would endorse the views of that resolution. On the other hand, I think it is very important and very proper that the attention of the Australian people should be drawn to the fact that a body which we all respect - the United Nations - the body that we hope at some time in the future develops into some form of world government, and certainly a body which will develop some form of world cooperation, has seen fit to condemn Australia’s attitude. I do not share the views of Government supporters when they condemn the Leader of the Opposition for raising these questions in the House.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to frustration in the Department of External Affairs and to its lack of specialisation. I must say that I am not criticising the Leader of the Opposition in saying that I was very impressed with the personnel of the Department of External Affairs when I was privileged to be associated with a joint parliamentary delegation which visited South East Asia last year. I know what he means. He means that we do not give the top people in the Department of External Affairs an opportunity to develop their specialisation to a sufficient extent. On the other hand, it is obvious that Australia is served very well by those people who occupy important positions in our embassies and consulates in South East Asia. The Leader of the Opposition criticised the Government for its failure to support peace moves, for its attitude that it was better to be on the side of the hawks than the doves in the United States, and for its failure to provide sufficient civil aid to South Vietnam and to people in the South East Asian area in general.
I should like to make my position quite clear. 1 believe in the self-determination of all the peoples of South East Asia. I hope to be in this Parliament long enough to see the time when this war in South Vietnam has been discontinued, when all these countries are able to determine their own form of government and are living in peace, both internally and with one another, and the great powers have decided to raise the standard of living of all people of South East Asia. Unfortunately the situation is a long way from that today. What is the situation in Vietnam? So much prejudice comes into this situation. Some people tell us that everything in the garden is rosy; on the other hand some people go to the other extreme. My impression - I agree that it is based on my visit to that country in July last year - is that it is a bit of both. I think we should paint the picture of Vietnam, if I might say so, warts and all. I should like to quote from the ‘Australian’ of today’s date because I believe that some of these matters which are highly current should be placed on record. The ‘Australian’ contains an article by Robert Duffield, who is described as ‘our Foreign Editor’, who was reporting on the military situation as he saw it in Vietnam. The article states:
The big fear among the military men in Saigon, both United States and Vietnamese, is not that they may lose the war, but that Washington and Hanoi may call it off too soon.
This is interesting. I am not reading the article in full, but I propose to make some excerpts. A little later it says:
So it is air power and artillery which are beating the Vietcong. First, the B52s. Once intelligence sources locate a Vietcong concentration the big bombers are called in to saturate the area with 1,000-lb. bombs. The kill rate is probably low but, as an American officer put it: ‘When they come out of those woods with their ears and noses bleeding from the concussion, well, they’re pacified for a while.’
The ground troops’ role is to locate a sizeable enemy force and engage it. Then they call in artillery and strike planes which, when mistakes are not made -
This is another interesting point: decimate the pinned down Vietcong with shells, napalm, rockets, cannon, bombs and (from a loudspeaker plane) propaganda.
A little later the article states:
On the latest estimates, the Government now controls 55% of South Vietnam, the Vietcong about 20%, with 25% contested.
If I may interrupt my reading, these figures refer to area. I should think from figures compiled by the Government of South Vietnam that about 85% of the population are in the areas referred to. The article also states:
Despite the enemy’s heavy losses, despite his difficulty in recruiting, despite the denial to him of many food supplies to which he previously had access, despite the allegedly morale-shattering effect of the B52s, he now has an estimated 280,000 men - 50,000 more than a year ago.
Despite the massive American bombing of military targets and supply lines in North Vietnam, the Hanoi soldiers are still coming down at a rate of up to 8,000 a month.
The article refers to the Australians serving in Vietnam and states:
In another reference to the Australians the article states:
They have, in short, denied control of the province to the Communists.
Meanwhile the brave, tiny civil action team, working with little security and no access to Army funds, has in the few villages where it is able, alienated civilian support for the Vietcong and launched a new sense of civic pride.
I should like now to quote from ‘Time* of tomorrow’s date, as follows:
Unfortunately, American jets also grievously erred last week, bombing the friendly Montagnard village of Long Vei, near the Laotian border, killing ninety-five civilians and wounding 200. Two delta-wing fighter bombers dropped anti-personnel fragmentation bombs and delayed fuse bombs on the mountain people, then swept in to strafe the survivors with cannon fire. It was the worst such allied mistake of the war.
Reports like this in the Press give some picture of the complexity of the situation in Vietnam today. In Vietnam there is a substantial force of American troops as well as smaller forces of troops from Korea, Australia, the Philippines and New Zealand. In addition there is a very large South Vietnamese force. There are areas that are regarded as secure; there are areas that are regarded as hard core Vietcong areas; and there are the areas in between. The question that arises is what is likely to emerge in Vietnam. The trend over recent years has been towards escalation. We are continually told that the Vietcong cannot win the war in South Vietnam. From my own impressions I would say that that is right. On the other hand I think it is probably decidedly true that no-one else can win it either. With all the increased build up of American forces and with all the enormous build up of equipment the Vietcong, the National Liberation Front forces and the North Vietnamese forces, have been able to increase their numbers substantially during the past year. I cannot see any quick change in this situation.
We have the alternative of a dramatic excalation, and this is always possible but decidedly dangerous. I do not think that any honourable member of the House, baring perhaps a few extremists on the Government side, would want to see escalation to the extent that we risked a third world war. We have in office in South Vietnam an administration influenced in no small measure by a military junta - the so-called Directory - and it is likely to continue for some time. There is much talk in the newspapers about the new civil administration that is likely to emerge after the Vietnamese constitution is determined and after the elections take place. However when one looks at the situation in Vietnam and sees how the various interested groups in that country are so fragmented and deeply antagonistic towards one another religiously, politically and geographically, one realises that probably the only organisation that has any sort of political organisation right throughout the country, apart from the National Liberation Front itself, is the armed forces. I would predict that when the elections are held the present military administration will play a substantial part, if not a dominant part, in whatever government emerges. If this is so the chances of dramatic improvement in administration are not great because while these people might in some measure be sincere and while, as was pointed out by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong), I expressed the view on my return from South East Asia that by Asian standards it was an honest government, the fact is that the government, in the minds of the people of South Vietnam, carries the tag of being a puppet government. This is something they will have to be dealing wilh for a long time, because we would all recognise that the only reason the present South Vietnamese Government is able to continue in office is because it has been supported by the massive American military machine and, in a smaller measure, by other countries.
One might well ask what Australia ought to be doing in this situation - what differing attitude ought Australia to have to the attitudes of the present Government. I am one of those people who support the alliance between our country and the United States of America. All members of the Labor Party support it. We also support the American presence in South East Asia in that we believe that America, more than any other country, has the economic resources to lift the standards of living in that part of the world. There are, of course, some political difficulties. America is a very large nation and, like Britain, France, Holland and other nations which have been great powers in South East Asia, she carries along with her the association of being a neo-colonialist power. I am not suggesting that America is; I am merely pointing out that a number of people in South East Asia react this way.
I should like to see - and this point was well made by the Leader of the Opposition - some Australian diplomatic initiative in all of these affairs in this part of the world. The Australian Labor Party would like to see Australia playing a role similar to the role Canada has played in the United Nations since the Second World War. Canada has supported the provision of armed forces to the United Nations for peace keeping operation in various parts of the world.
– Canada has done so voluntarily, too.
– Yes, and Canada has been able to take diplomatic initiative on many of the sensitive questions of world affairs in areas like Cyprus and in the IsraeliArab situation and, of course, in Vietnam which Australia has not seen fit to take. This does not mean that Australia ought to dissociate itself from American diplomatic initiatives. What it means is that Australia cannot afford to live completely under the shade of an American umbrella in diplomatic affairs. We have to have an Australian voice in world affairs. This is what the Labor Party believes.
I should like to quote from the very well regarded and highly esteemed Prime Minister of Great Britain when he referred to recent discussions that took place between himself and Mr Kosygin, the Russian Prime Minister. He said:
Peace in Vietnam was almost within our grasp - one single act of trust could have achieved it
He also said:
But after all I’ve learnt in these intimate contacts and consultations over this past week, it’s become clear to me that the Vietnam problem above all is a problem of trust and confidence, confidence of each side about the sincerity of the other when it talks of peace.
I know the message has got home of my firm belief in American sincerity in all their offers of negotiations in Vietnam, and I believe too that the North Vietnamese equally want peace but that they are also concerned about the safety of their own fighting men and here we have it - disappointment, deep mutual distrust. Above all, the resumption, perhaps the intensification of this murderous war, all this will make far more difficult the task we have of nurturing a new spirit of trust.
We, above all, those of us who have the responsibility of creating a political atmosphere of trust in which the parties to the war can take the decision to come to the conference table, we above all, must not allow the missed opportunities of the past few days and the resumption of fighting to drive us into panic statements or panic actions or high-sounding moral declarations, which cost us nothing and equally achieve nothing.
Our task is to create the way for peace together with others, all over the world, who are working for the same object
He goes on to say:
Last weekend, I believe, peace was almost within our grasp. One single, simple act of trust could have achieved it
It is my hope that Australia will take the initiative in this question. Why is it that the North Vietnamese and the Americans do not trust one another? I should think the reason is fairly obvious. It is because this is a particularly dirty, cruel sort of war, a war of insurgency, a war which has an ideological background and all the elements of a civil war. I believe that we need a genuine and probably an international guarantee in this matter. We must get across to the North Vietnamese people the idea that America is sincere. We, too, have to be sincere on this question. We do not have to subscribe to the view expressed in the ‘Australian’ today that the permanent military people in Saigon and Washington are afraid that the war will come to an end too soon. I hope we can take an independent
Australian initiative in South East Asian affairs without in any way running out on our allies the Americans, or our friends the British.
I am a bit concerned at some of the opinions expressed in this House to the effect that we should write the British off. We all recognise that the American influence is a very much more substantial one at this point in time, but on the other hand anyone who has been to Malaysia and who appreciates the support the British gave to the people of Malaysia in the confrontation by Indonesia will realise that Britain was prepared and is prepared today to play her role in this part of the world - a role that seems to me to deserve our support. When we were in Malaysia we found that the withdrawal of the British, which was given so much publicity in the Press, resulted more from pressure from Malaysia itself than any desire on the part of the British to get out extremely quickly.
The last point I would like to make, as my time is drawing to an end, is that we Australians can do things in Asia that the British and Americans cannot do. We have never been a colonial power. Certainly we have been entrusted with administration in Papua and New Guinea, in Nauru and other places, but we have never been a colonial power in the sense that many other powers have been. I found - and I was very pleased to find it - that Australia was well regarded and trusted in South East Asia and I hope that we shall be able to use this trust and this regard to serve the cause in which we in this part of the world all believe - the continuation of a strong, free, democratic Australia, supported by strong, free nations, preferably democratic but certainly operating on a basis of selfdetermination, in South East Asia.
– I am privileged to rise this afternoon for the first time in the Twenty-sixth Parliament. It is eight years since I rose to speak in this; place previously. I should like to begin, if I may, by briefly paying a compliment to Mr Speaker and to ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to convey to him my congratulations on his election to his high office in this Parliament. I should be grateful also if you would convey my congratulations to the Chairman of Committees. I offer my congratulations to you, Mr Fox, and to your colleagues who have been appointed to assist in the work of controlling the affairs of this House.
Perhaps I may also be allowed to pay tribute to the member who proceeded me in representing the electorate of North Sydney. Mr W. M. Jack represented that electorate from 1949 to 1966. He was well known to all members of this Parliament as a man who performed fine work in the electorate of North Sydney and who made for himself a reputation for friendliness, tolerance and personal service in the community which is unsurpassed in the records of this place. It may be equalled by some, but I would feel that it is surpassed by none.
I have risen this afternoon because the new Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has put before the Parliament certain opinions. He has represented a certain position with relation to the Public Service. He has offered criticism of the Department of External Affairs, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) and the Government, and it seems to me that the House should have some clarification of these matters and that the record should be put straight. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that Australia’s attitude to Papua and New Guinea and Nauru has received little support in the United Nations. I had a look at the United Nations in 1965 when the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and others were representing this Parliament at the session in September of that year.
I take the view that to secure support in any general sense in the United Nations would be an enormously difficult thing. Of necessity, it would have to be preceded by a great public relations drive among an enormous number of countries. Whilst I agree that it is true to say that the support we received was disappointing, the vote did no more than reflect the highly emotional, anti-colonial atmosphere that had been built up during the preceding debates on Rhodesia, South West Africa and other former African colonies. Nevertheless, the voting position was not so adverse as was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. Although only one other member - Britain - joined Australia in voting against the draft resolution on Nauru, twenty-seven members indicated their lack of support for it by abstaining. Seven members- Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Britain and the United States of America - joined us in voting against the resolution on Papua and New Guinea, and a further twenty-four members abstained. I should think that the Leader of the Opposition might have served the interests of his Party a little better if he had represented the facts to this Parliament rather than say what he did say.
The Leader of the Opposition went on further and made what could be construed as an attack upon the Department of External Affairs. He said that the Department had never had so important a role to play, that its morale had never been at so low an ebb, and that it was frustrated by the low status assigned to it in what he described as the Public Service hierarchy. This, I think, was a rather unusual description from a man of the legal attainments of the honourable gentleman from Werriwa. What is the measure of status in the Public Service hierarchy? If it is salary levels, then only the officers of the Treasury, the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department and officers in certain other limited special categories are placed in a higher salary classification than their counterparts in the Department of External Affairs.
The primary responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry for Australia’s international commercial relations has never been contested but there is, nowadays especially, the closest co-operation and harmony between that Department and the Department of External Affairs at all working levels. Any understaffing in the economic relations branch of the Department of External Affairs to which he referred is attributable, to a large extent - as in other branches - to the Department’s generally expanding work and responsibilities. The Treasury would be disposed to say that, if anything, the Treasury is under continual pressure from our economic aid branch in the Department of External Affairs. This again, I think, put more fairly, would have helped the Leader of the Opposition and honourable members of this Parliament to get at the facts and the factual position. For example, to state that the Department of External Affairs lacked a highly professional body of experts able to give authoritative advice, as a criticism, would indicate that these people in the civil service were not qualified, experienced and dedicated people to whom our Government could look for advice. This is not the case. I think that most people would have difficulty in finding a better qualified senior specialist on Vietnam, for example, than our former Ambassador in Saigon, Mr H. D. Anderson.
The Leader of the Opposition also made a reference to the highly experienced experts on China. It will be recalled that he spoke about the people who sat in Hong Kong looking at what was going on inside China and who have secured for themselves the title of *China watchers’. He referred to the wall posters which appeared in Peking and said that we were in a sense dependent on our translation of these for our own information. Any of the numerous countries which do not recognise Communist China would have difficulty in finding highly experienced experts. We do have some people who speak Chinese and we have spent substantial sums of money on having Chinese taught to other people who have left the Public Service after having acquired considerable competence in the language. A substantial number of our officers who have been posted in South East Asia have acquired at least a sound working knowledge, if not high efficiency, in the language of the countries in which they worked.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to another point by comparison but it also was dealt with by the honourable member on the Government side of the chamber who preceded me in this debate. This related to Canada. It is fair comment to say that Canada has a larger diplomatic service than Australia but there is no basis for claiming that, size for size and man for man, it is a more effective diplomatic service than ours. After all the Australian service has to operate in a very sensitive area. It has to operate in Asia effectively and it has to do all that it can to develop the public image of the Australian people and our Government in this very sensitive area. The fact of the matter is that the Canadians are not so involved and therefore do not have the same problems. I would think it would be rather difficult to compare the two ser vices and therefore I think this reference to the effectiveness of the Canadian service and the ineffectiveness of the Australian service is, again, a very unfortunate one.
The Leader of the Opposition made a number of assertions about the efforts being made to secure peace in Vietnam. He stated that this Government was inclined to be more of the hawk variety than the dove variety. My own view of his references is that he was deliberately trying to confuse the Parliament and that he made a series of references which did so by refusing to recognise our own view on the relations between Hanoi and Peking. It is our view that the North Vietnam regime is a rigid communist administration. I do not think anyone would challenge this. It looks to the Communist world for support and assistance. Hanoi has tried to find a balance in its relations with Moscow and Peking. But the history of Chinese-North Vietnam relations over a long period shows that, because of that country’s common frontier with mainland China, Hanoi’s room for manoeuvre has been limited.
The view of this Government is that the present Government of North Vietnam is very much the product of Chinese aid and assistance and came to power with many of the same beliefs as the Chinese Communists. Historically it is a fact that it was after the triumph of the forces of Mao Tse Tung that Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh really began to develop their capacity to fight the French armies in the period from 1950 to 1954. Both North Vietnam and China, of course, share the same doctrine of the so-called war of national liberation and have worked together to promote their own ideology in that region. The public statements of Hanoi and Peking plainly reveal this community of aims and partnership. But this is not to say that Hanoi is under or would accept complete control from Peking. Such a development would run strongly against the tide of Vietnam’s tradition and history.
It was this point, of course, which the Premier of South Vietnam, Air ViceMarshal Ky, was making in Canberra when he expressed the personal view which was quoted by the Leader of the Opposition that a unification process Would take place if the Chinese were to invade Vietnam, presumably without being invited. Well, this is an interesting comment. I doubt if there is ever likely to be any chance of proving this point but I would think that the Chinese, having decided to go into the North Korean War, found themselves in a position where they were being supported by the North Koreans against the South Koreans and the people of -the western forces who were endeavouring to protect the South Koreans from aggression. My own view is that it is more likely that if the Chinese came into Vietnam they would come as they did in the case of North Korea - they would be invited to take part in the operation and there would be the same actual result. The Leader of the Opposition also said:
Instead of using its influence to avoid direct confrontation with China, with the inevitable consequence of nuclear war, it supports, sometimes by direct inference, sometimes by calculated science, the so-called ‘hardliners’ who want and would welcome such a confrontation.
The Government on many occasions has explained in detail why it supports the bombing of selected military targets in North Vietnam and why it has supported the resumption of the bombing when pauses have effected no response other than an intensification of North Vietnamese aggression. It is not true to suggest that the Government seeks only to emphasise the concept of military commitment, nor that it gives encouragement to those who would welcome escalation and confrontation with China. The Government has repeatedly stressed that its aims are to deter aggression and not to destroy the enemy or to widen the conflict. Nothing is clearer than this. It has been said again and again that, as regards the United States of America, Australia has a vital interest in the effective presence and active participation of the United States in measures for the security, development and prosperity of Asia and the Pacific. As regards Communist China, Australia wants not confrontation but a just and lasting settlement which China will respect and which would accord with the legitimate interests of all in that area.
I would like to say a word to those people who talk about the war being unwinnable and who speak of the achievements, of the Vietcong. I remind them that in any clandestine war the ruthless and dedicated soldier will be able to continue to operate effectively. This was proved I suppose in its clearest way during World War II when the highly organised German Army - possibly the greatest military force of all time - having conquered France and with one million men under its control and all the police apparatus imaginable at its disposal, could not prevent tha clandestine operations of the Maquis in blowing up bridges and trains and killing people, and in fact doing all of the things being done at present by the Vietcong. In my opinion it is inevitable that this type of operation will continue. What we will need to defeat it in the long run is a great deal of courage and dedication and a determination not to succumb to the threat that is offered to freedom but to abide by our convictions. I would hope that we could have the facts put before us without their being distorted and misrepresented in such a way as to» suggest that the department of state concerned with international affairs is one of which we should be ashamed. This is quite wrong and something should be said to put the record straight. I hope that the com-> ments I have made this afternoon may have done the job, at least in part.
– Tt is obvious that the main item in Australia’s foreign policy today is Vietnam. Every honourable member who has participated in the debate has mentioned Vietnam. Some honourable members opposite got quite excited about it. The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) deplored the fact that the Opposition could find nothing good in the Government’s attitude towards this problem. Surely the honourable member has been here long enough to know that the division of opinion on these matters is not always in accordance with the facts; it is in accordance with the ideological outlook of the person speaking. The honourable member should realise that should there be a change in the Parliament after the next elections and should he be sitting on this side, he would then be prepared to criticise everything that the government did, and undoubtedly he would do so.
It must be perfectly obvious that nobody behind the scenes wants peace in Vietnam. Just look at the people who say they want peace and who appeal for peace. Look at the positions they occupy. It is a rather impressive list. There is Mao Tse-tung. He wants peace in Vietnam. There is Ho Chi Minh. There is President Johnson. There is our own Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). There is Harold Wilson. There is Kosygin of Russia. There is Air ViceMarshal Ky. Even the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) joined the list. All the important people want peace. Add to those I have mentioned the world’s religious leaders. If indeed they all wanted peace, there would be peace. These are the people who conduct the affairs of the world. The only conclusion we can come to as to why we have not got peace is that somewhere someone in a powerful position who speaks for peace really obstructs it. There can be no other conclusion. We have a conflict between two ideologies and the only condition upon which either side will accept peace is the defeat of its opponent. Ho Chi Minh wants peace provided Air Vice-Marshal Ky is eliminated from the stage. Air Vice-Marshal Ky wants peace but only at the price of victory over his opponents. This is not a new idea; it is as old as history. What is the chance of getting peace under these circumstances?
When we look more closely at the picture we find some peculiar things. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who has recently been in South Vietnam, pointed out that we have all sorts of complaints to make about the infiltration of troops from the north. It appears that they have come in not in regimental strength but in divisional strength, and a division could number anything from 8,000 or 9,000 men to 20,000 or 30,000. At any rate, they are large formations of troops. There is not only the number of troops involved to consider but also the continuous supplying of them. They must have uniforms, ammunition, food and equipment. There must be supporting troops and organisation. The frontier is little more than 50 miles long. Nobody could claim that it would be difficult with the troops that we have in this area completely to seal off this frontier. You could build a succession of barbed wire fences and guard them with a division of troops that nothing could infiltrate. The other side would have to attack it. Too many people in Australia have had experience of these things not to know the true position. I have seen Vietnam. I have fought in Asia. I know that you could not infiltrate troops on the scale which it is suggested the North is infiltrating if those troops were resisted effectively, and to resist them effectively you need numbers and equipment. We have one million men south of this line. Apparently the other side infiltrates at will. So there is no genuine effort to prevent this infiltration, otherwise it would be prevented.
Why is this so? This is something which we are not able to investigate. We can guess, but guessing does not assist us to arrive at a solution to the problem. We are told that the main reason why we are involved in Vietnam is because we have to stay on the right side of our friends. This has been said, even here. We are told that we must stop the Chinese Communists in Vietnam. If this is to be seriously considered let us take a closer look at what is proposed. Are we to be told that Chinese Communism is able successfully to fight a war by proxy in Vietnam, because this in effect is what it is doing if in fact China is the power behind the Vietcong. Are we to accept as fact that, notwithstanding there are 400,000 Americans engaged in Vietnam, together with 60,000 or 70,000 of their allies, plus more than 500,000 South Vietnamese troops, and that we are spending $20m a day on the war, we cannot overcome the forces raised by the Vietcong? Are we to continue this war until the American people become tired of the cost of it, not only in terms of money but also in terms of lives and equipment? If so, the Chinese must win. They can fight us with somebody else until we are exhausted and then they are in the position of being conquerors without an effective foe. What sort of policy does that add up to?
If the opponents of Communism had been honest, the people they would have attacked surely would have been the Chinese, and surely this would have been an opportune moment when the Chinese are out of favour with the Russians. The Russians obviously would be most happy to see the Chinese fight the United States of America, so we would get no opposition from that quarter. But we do not do this. We say: *We must oppose Chinese Communism’. How ridiculous it would be to say: ‘Australia is menaced by the Vietnamese, whatever their ideology is.’ Obviously the Vietnamese could not do anything to us. They do not possess a ship. They could not get here in anything bigger than a sampan. The distance is too great; it is too far to swim and it is too deep to paddle. The Vietnamese would need to be equipped with modern methods of transport; and they do not have them. The only logical argument is that the menace arises from the greater power, which must be stopped, which must be destroyed or which must be converted from this ideology to another. But to do this we go off and fight a third party. This is a peculiar proposition. No-one would do this in everyday life. If we have an argument with another person, we fight him. We would not get anywhere by fighting a third party; we would then be unable to fight our main enemy when we had to oppose him. The whole argument sounds phoney. But that is not the only phoney aspect.
We are now being told that the type of Communism in Russia is not quite so hostile as the type of Communism in China, that it is not such a menace as it used to fee. We are being told that Russia is now becoming the enemy of our enemies. This can have a remarkable result. When I was in China, public enemy No. 1 was Chiang Kai-shek. He was alleged to be a Communist leader and I was told dreadful things about him. I was then about the age that my son is now. He is in Vietnam. I was told all the things about Chiang Kai-shek that he is now being told about Ho Chi Minh. But today Chiang Kai-shek is a gallant ally. The situation has changed; the wheel has turned. When I was in China he was an out and out Communist. I still have some of the newspapers of the day and honourable members would be surprised to read what was said about him then. He was anything but a gentleman. We can all remember when harsh remarks were made about the Japanese. As far as I am concerned, most of the remarks were true. I am one of those people who think they still are true. My family tried to talk me into buying a Japanese motor car, but my mind still retains memories of twenty-five years ago, and I would not have anything to do with it. You see, we are all prejudiced. It is not so very long since the Germans were public enemies No. 1. Now we are building them up to help us fight someone else. The wheel has turned.
There is not a major nation in the world that has not been a prime enemy of ours, if we go back far enough in history. It is not usual to recall this, but in 1812 America was public enemy No. 1. At that time, America was fighting the Canadians and the British. The British burned down the White House and flags were flown to celebrate the event. No mention is made of this today. During the Second World War a Canadian said to me: ‘If you want to buy a fight with the Yanks, ask who won the battle of Niagara Falls.’ I did not buy a fight but I heard all about it. The position changes over the years. We are told today that the Vietnamese are our enemies or at least that they stand with an enemy of ours. But China is not risking a man, a dollar or anything else in Vietnam.
The other reason we are given for our commitment in Vietnam is that we must stay on side with our allies. Why? Because if we do not someone else will attack us and our allies will not come to our aid. But what has happened in Vietnam in the last few years? One of the greatest military powers in history, supported by its allies, has been unable to defeat the Vietcong. We even are told in a newspaper today, as the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) has said, that victory is just around the corner. I do not know what sort of a corner it is or how far the corner is away, but apparently we are on the winning side and it will not be too long before the Vietcong is defeated. Let us have a look at this. We have all the technical equipment on our side, all the land based and sea-borne aircraft, all the artillery, all the bombs, all the armoured vehicles. The Vietcong does not possess any of these weapons. The biggest weapon the Vietcong has is a mortar. Many of the weapons it uses are home made. We do not have this; our equipment is up to date. It is the most modern we can get. But the Vietcong is still there, is still fighting and is still having victories.
If that is the state of affairs, if this great nation cannot defeat the Vietcong, who could defeat us? We are an insular country. No nation has a base here and if we have any sense no nation will ever be given a base here. Those who get a base as allies today can use it tomorrow as enemies. We should never forget this. The only real friends we have in this world are the people who live in Australia. We can rely on 90% of them. Anybody outside this country will fashion his activities according to the ideological views of his government. People from other countries obviously will fight for their country and for their government
The only other point of note that I intend to touch upon this afternoon is quite a different point. We give assistance to Asia. Not all the effort there is fighting. We give aid to India. I have recently been there. When we look at the emerging countries and the newly established powers in Asia, we find that nine out of ten of them are unable to handle the situation in which they find themselves. Only three nations in Asia have been able successfully to handle their economic affairs. Malaysia is not doing a toad job. Anyone who goes there must be rather impressed with the success that Malaysia is having on the economic front; but it has only a small population of about 7 million people. The land is there and it h being used. China obviously is quite able to wrestle with her economic problems. She is able to feed 700 million people. Irrespective of what may be going on there - nobody here knows any more than I do about it - the fact remains that this is still a political entity, that the Government is able to control it and that it has not fallen into what its critics from day to day would have us believe is revolution and disruption. The other nation is Japan. The most densely populated country in Asia is an economic success, and most of this success is due to the Japanese people and their industry.
If we are going to be able to help most of the Asian countries, we must require that they rely more than they do on their own capacity to improve their economic circumstances. Let us take a look at India. We send aid to India but we are hypocritical enough to believe that all we need do is to put the wheat on a ship, send it and then say piously to the world: ‘We have sent India 150,000 tons of grain.’ Where does it go? Does it stay on the wharf at Bombay or Calcutta? Some of it has rotted there. Have we taken any cognizance at all of the ability of the Indian Government to handle bulk grain from the ship to the shore or to distribute it when it has been unloaded? Quite recently, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, through its programme ‘Four Corners’, treated us to a harrowing view of the economic conditions in parts of India. This situation is not universal in India; we did not see it, but I do not doubt it is there.
Have we taken the trouble to see that any of this aid gets to the people who need it? I do not think so.
– We do not know.
– Of course we do not, and neither does the honourable member, because we abandon the shipment on the wharf. That is not the way to treat it. We should assist these people to a greater degree than we do. They produce twice as much food as they need now but vermin destroy more than half of it. They could produce twice as much as they do because they could grow two crops a year in many areas. They can get only 3 tons of rice an acre whereas Australia can get 8. They could do the same if they employed better methods. All these things should be taken into consideration.
The point is that these people can help themselves to a greater degree than we can help them if we will provide them with some of the technical knowledge which we have. I went to a rice project in Bengal and found two Australians having difficulty trying to convince the locals that they could grow better rice than they already grew. They were not very impressed but the position is quite obvious when you see what these two Australians have done. However, to convince a country of 450 million people of whom more than 80% are on the land is a task that cannot be carried out by two men on a rice project.
The volume of our assistance is insufficient. The technical nature of it is insufficient. We need to send people to India to assist the local people to do the job themselves. We do not have to feed India; our obligation is to be prepared, with our superior technical knowledge and ability, to assist the Indian people to feed themselves. When we do that we will have more friends in Asia than we are ever likely to have enemies.
– In a speech of twenty minutes there is no time to offer congratulations to the new Speaker or to the new members on their speeches or to other people who have spoken excellently in this debate. I hope my congratulations will be taken for granted. I think the subject of this debate is one of the most important that we could be discussing during the sessional period. Australians by and large - anyhow by a large majority - showed that they had a much keener knowledge and a greater perception and insight into the duties and responsibilities of Australia in this part of the world than many other people. By their vote, they showed they had a keener insight into it, for instance, than the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the team that is behind him - a very mixed team shaded from left of centre to what in the go-go language would be called a shocking pink’. The people of Australia have a much keener insight into these matters, I believe, than many members of the American Congress - Senators Robert Kennedy, Bill Fulbright, Wayne Morse and Mike Mansfield - who have all been very critical of what is taking place in Vietnam. I make no apology for mentioning them in this House because if they want to get their revenge they will have their opportunity, I hope, sometime about June of this year when I trust I will be able to be in Washington.
It is all very well for them and for others in this House to be idealists and not mix realism with the actual events in this world in order to find the solution to the problem of peace in Vietnam which all of us want. Australians again, I think, have a much better perception than Mr Walter Lippmann, one of the leading columnists in America. They have a better perception than this man, who is de Gaulle’s public relations officer who has been consistently wrong in his forecasting of what was going to happen in the international world since the middle thirties, and even more consistently wrong in what was going to happen in Asia since the last war. It is not so long ago that he was criticised in America for thinking that Hanoi was a sea port. If people do not go and visit these parts but write continuous daily diatribes one cannot expect them to be right. Nevertheless they have quite a big influence on the thinking in their own home country.
Senator Robert Kennedy, I think, has made one visit to the Far East early in 1 964 as representative of President Johnson, I think it was. The President, in order to try to bring about a conference on the confrontation of Malaysia sent Robert Kennedy to that area. Robert Kennedy thought he was successful, but he had hardly left Djakarta before the whole thing went over board and Dr Sukarno and Dr Subandrio intensified that particular confrontation. I only wish I was at liberty to disclose some of the conference that took place at Kuala Lumpur in which Senator Robert Kennedy made certain suggestions with regard to what Dr Sukarno would do. Robert Kennedy could well be called the architect of the plan to sell out smaller nations in Asia. I do not believe he wants to do it, but he just does not understand the position or the problems. Although he has said, as reported in today’s Press, that his duty to his country is higher than his duty to the Democratic Party, I think that if he went around and had a much closer look at Asia he would find that most of his proposals are unrealistic under the present conditions.
I should like now to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) who has been confirmed in his courageous and correct views on Australia’s position in our region of the world. That was confirmed very definitely by the Australian people at the last general election. The Prime Minister followed up his victory by an invitation to Air Vice-Marshal Ky for which, I think, he was criticised by every newspaper in Australia. They came to criticise, they left to praise, and there is no doubt that the visit of the Air Vice-Marshal enabled the Australian people to form opinions themselves. I am glad to say they seem to have formed very largely the same opinion that I had when I met Air Vice-Marshal Ky a month after he came to office during a very difficult period. He told me on that occasion what he wanted to do for his people and he has tried to carry out that policy ever since. I find very refreshing these winds of political change that have taken place recently on the Government side of the House, although the Opposition side has deteriorated obviously since the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) told us of what Dr Evatt said in 1954. On this side of the House the winds of change are very pleasing after the hesitating and wavering policy that we had with respect to Asia in the previous era.
The Prime Minister has recognised the realities of the situation and by his visits and actions in South East Asia, and the proposed visits that will shortly take place, he has done a great deal to raise the prestige of Australia in Asia. He has gone out of his way to gain contact with leaders in Asia. He is proud to be recognised as an Asian Prime Minister even if only geographically. He wants to know the leaders of Asia. He recognises, as most others of the Western world do not recognise, that some of the leading world statesmen are in this region, the Far East - President Park, Prime Minister Sato, Nai Thanat Khoman, the Foreign Minister of Thailand, Nai Pote Sarasin, plus the Prime Minister of Thailand, Air Vice-Marshal Ky and Dr Do, his Foreign Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and others in Malaysia, Chiang Kai-shek and C. K. Yen in Taiwan. I could go on and mention others in the Philippines. There are some very brilliant dedicated leaders in Asia and I am very glad to know that our Prime Minister wants to meet them personally and talk with them. It is a very fine move on his part and he has been ably backed up in this by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). In spite of the criticism that has been hurled at the Minister, I believe he has done an excellent job in his own department and, as I say, he has performed a splendid dual role with the Prime Minister in directing our foreign policy.
I think there are only two matters on which I could have differences of opinion with the Minister. I cannot understand why in the United Nations last November - if he was reported correctly - he chose to criticise the Court of International Justice with regard to the decision on South West Africa. The second matter on which I might join issue with the Minister is the question of Outer Mongolia. After all, I suppose none of us agrees with the policy of apartheid, but I think we should all realise that possibly the principle of separate development may yet prove the solution in more places than just South Africa. If we look at figures published in the ‘Guardian’ recently from a letter by Mr Patrick Wall, M.P., we find that the minimum wage for the African in South Africa today is £5 sterling a week or £260 a year. The comparable figure for Rhodesia is £125, for Kenya £32, for Malawi £13 and for Tanzania £10. In other words the highest standard of living on the African continent is to be found south of the Zambesi.
Is it any wonder, having in mind the better educational facilities and other opportunities offering, that Africans themselves want to migrate to Rhodesia and South Africa? There are half a million nonRhodesian Africans working in Rhodesia. I do not criticise other nations in Africa for having gone back to tribal discipline. When colonial discipline disappeared tribal discipline was, in most cases, all they bad to go back to. I sympathise with them. 1 suppose I have more friends amongst the various nations of this world than most other members of this House, but I still must say that I understand why the Africans south of the Zambesi do not want to be dragged down into the degradation of barbarism and bestiality which has accompanied so many of the tribal or military take-overs in other nations in Africa. I hope we will all be able to help the various African peoples to improve their situation and their living conditions in the very near future.
But it does make me sad to realise that out of 122 nations which are now members of the United Nations, fewer than half have governments that could by any stretch of the imagination be called governments by majority rule. Yet they comprise the jury to which the Prime Minister of Great Britain referred the Rhodesian problem. How many of the national leaders who attended the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers represented military dictatorships? I think we must look carefully at this problem, particularly as Britain is now withdrawing from east of Suez. I do not criticise her for doing so; I sympathise because I do not think that she can economically remain in that area. But the fact remains that with Britain’s withdrawal Africa south of the Zambesi is going to be of great importance to us.
As I have said, the other matter on which I said I might join issue with the Minister was that of Outer Mongolia. We voted, if I remember rightly, for Outer Mongolia’s independence in 1961 when that country was admitted to the United Nations. Why this matter should have been brought up on this occasion I do not know. As a result of the treaty of friendship and alliance between Russia and China in 1945 Outer Mongolia was recognised as independent, but once Russia broke her part of the treaty China withdrew the recognition, and whether one thinks it is right or wrong, a good deal of emotion over this issue still exists in the Republic of China. It seemed to me unnecessary to put it on the line, if I may use that phrase, or to rub China’s nose in it, just as our Prime Minister is about to make the first visit of any Australian Prime Minister to Taipeh. It will not only cause some consternation, shall we say, amongst our friends, but it will also intensify the enmity felt towards us by our enemies. Mao Tse-tung will not like it at all, and if we are in favour of selling wheat to Red China - and everybody in this House knows my views on that - I cannot understand why this should have been mentioned, because very probably it will affect our future sales. We are already the only major wheat selling country that has not a long term contract with Peking. This is not the case with Canada, Argentina and France.
However, these perhaps are two more or less minor matters arising from the excellent statement delivered by the Minister for External Affairs. The reply by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was rather extraordinary. He has a fractious family. He reminded me of somebody who had taken the children on a picnic and given them all-day suckers to keep them quiet and contented. This was not very successful because the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) apparently disagreed on many points with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition. His speech rather reminded me of Pope’s couplet on Bolingbroke:
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering teach the rest to sneer.
We have heard the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), my very good friend whose heart is far larger than his head. He is now the TV pin-up boy at the barricades. Was it not in Sydney under the Harbour Bridge when Air Marshal Ky was present in Sydney that he called him murderer, Fascist, thug and everything else he could think of? But later on, in a speech, he actually quoted Air Marshal Ky as an authority. He cannot have it both ways. The same applies to the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), who supported every rebellion from Cromwell to Cuba, but seemed for some reason or other to leave out Rhodesia. As an exmember of an excellent police force he must realise that somebody has to do the work of the police force of the world today and protect the weak from the strong, and thank goodness America has given a lead in this.
All these honourable members on the other side of the House rather reminded me of the mythological Chinese tale of the creation when the Chinese architect Pan Ku spent ten thousand years picking up the gargantuan bits and pieces around the landscape to make the world, and when he died his eyes became the sun and the moon and his breath the wind, all the little creatures crawling on his body became the men and women. It appears to me that most of the members of the Opposition have not progressed very far beyond that mythological tale.
The Leader of the Opposition, the modern Marco Polo, goes over to Vietnam for a few days, comes back and tells us that if there had been civil aid programmes from 1954 onwards there would probably have been no Vietnam war. He never bothers about his history. If he had studied modern history he would have known that by 1958 the standard of living in South Vietnam had increased by 20%, as against a decrease of 10% in the north. He would have known that there were 400,000 tens of rice available for export from South Vietnam. He would have known that the success of the civil aid programme was so pronounced up to 1958 that the Communists, by no means liking the shop window on the opposite side of the road, decided that they would have to call a halt to this success and so formed the National Liberation Front in 1960-61. Everybody knows what has happened since then.
I agree for once with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who said that we should stop this infiltration and seal the boundaries - and do not call me a hawk for saying so. I am a barracker for the Mighty Hawks, and Victorians will know what that means. I would far rather be that than an ersatz Magpie. Look at him on the front page of this magazine. The Leader of the Opposition, a Rugby player, probably, from New South Wales, parades in a Collingwood guernsey. A Magpie has a mellifluous voice but it goes about picking up small bits and pieces belonging to other people in the hope, like the honourable member, that this is to his advantage.
I agree for once with the honorable member for Wills that it is necessary to seal the boundaries.
I would give North Vietnam a month - or two months, if one likes - to come to the conference table. Everybody in the free world wants peace. Everybody in the free world wants a settlement. But whereas it takes only one to make a war it takes two to make a settlement. If North Vietnam will not come to the conference table, we should go across from the seventeenth parallel of latitude to the Mekong River, cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, stop the infiltrators from coming in, clean up southern Laos and South Vietnam, which could be done relatively quickly, and then clean up northern Laos and seal the border. If this were done the development on which we all are so keen, and the speed of which is self evident in places like Thailand, could go ahead at a much faster rate. I believe that the action that I have just outlined should be taken unless the North Vietnamese are prepared to come to the conference table. If we did as I have advocated, it would not be long before the North Vietnamese, seeing the rate at which development was proceeding in the rest of South East Asia, would want to share in it.
Every time I go to South East Asia I become more thrilled and more excited at seeing what is taking place throughout the region. I believe that it can set an example for development and co-operation that will be a pattern for the future in other regions and alter the course of world history. We have a big responsibility, and the more we do, the better we shall be able to undertake the job of building the brighter, better and more prosperous world for which so many thousands of Austrians have already died fighting in two world wars.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– I present a report by the Tariff Board on:
Man-made fibres and yarn, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric and an interim report under the general textile reference on:
Man-made fibres and yarn, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Board has recommended assistance to the basic products of this industry by way of tariff and bounty. The Government does not accept the recommendation of the Board that assistance should be in part by bounty. The Board’s report does not advise the Government as to the levels of protection that should be accorded the industry as a whole if bounty is not one of the elements of assistance for the basic products. In these circumstances the Government has not accepted the report and has referred the question of assistance to the industry to the Board for further inquiry and report. It is desired that in such further inquiry and report the Board should give due regard to the terms of reference. Pending receipt of the Board’s report the question of temporary protection to those products to which temporary duties currently apply - duties which, under the Tariff Board Act, must be terminated on 23rd March 1967 - has been referred to the Special Advisory Authority. The reference covers also the question of whether temporary protection is necessary for nylon and polyester staple and tow and tyre cord and tyre cord fabrics. This question has been held in abeyance for some months pending receipt and consideration of the report that I have just tabled.
Ordered to be printed.
Ministerial Statement Debate resumed.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) last week in this House delivered one of his periodic essays on how the world outside Australia is getting along. His statement was comprehensive and, by his established standards, comparatively lucid. It contained none of the arrogance that has marred many of his earlier pronouncements on foreign affairs. But it outlined only a sterile and negative external policy. It disclosed an international outlook composed of ultra-conservative attitudes. The Minister’s text contained not the slightest suggestion that diplomacy is a constantly evolving process as governments adapt their policies to swift changes in event and counter event. There was little difference in tone or subject matter from other statements that he has made in this House in the past three years. His speech was a shallow exercise and its only positive achievement was to confirm the impression that the Government’s foreign policy, particularly in Asia, is merely an appendage of the external and military policies of the United States of America.
The Minister answered none of the vital questions that the Opposition believes an outline of foreign policy should answer. What are our responsibilities in Asia? Is our present external posture to be subservient to the development of the Vietnam war? What can Australia do to bring the war to an early settlement? What positive steps can Australia take to contribute towards closer world contacts with Communist China in the context of the Sino-Soviet dispute? What should Australia be doing to develop treaty and trade relations with the great emerging powers of Asia - India, Indonesia and Japan? What will our foreign policy be in the post Vietnam war era? These are the areas in which a Labor Government would be active in formulating policies. The descriptive approach of the Minister fails to convey the urgency of the international problems confronting Australia.
It would be impossible, in the limited time available, for me to traverse the ground covered by the Minister, Mr Deputy Speaker. I intend to concentrate on the Vietnam war, civilian aid to Vietnam and, finally, the Government’s lack of a constructive and comprehensive policy in Asia beyond the limited context of the Vietnam war. The Opposition has stated its attitude to the Vietnam war many times in this House. We believe that the Government should not have committed Australia to a war that was not sanctioned by the United Nations or by any of the treaties to which Australia is a signatory. The Government compounded this initial blunder by the merciless conscription of Australian youth to ensue adequate forces for its commitment. It did this without giving Australians an adequate opportunity to volunteer for service in Vietnam and without forming an expeditionary force for the duration of the war. It threw the burden of the war on to a section of our youth and discriminated again by using a form of lottery to choose the conscripts. The Opposition has repeatedly condemned conscription, Sir, and we maintain our abhorrence for the Government’s policies. We have pointed out that Australia is one of a very small number of America’s allies which have committed themselves to this war. Our arguments have been twisted by the Government into the malicious falsehood that the Australian Labor Party is anti-American and that it wants to reject Australia’s alliance with the United States.
Today the Holt Government’s commitment to the Vietnam war is an accomplished fact. The Opposition in this Parliament can do nothing to rescind this commitment. This does not mean, however, that the Opposition will fall into the rigid and servile policies of the Holt Government. We want to make an enduring contribution to the peace of Asia and the world. We want a broadly gauged policy that will allow the utmost flexibility in Australia’s diplomacy in Asia. We do not subscribe to a foreign policy whose ultimate result would be the destruction of Australia’s initiative and the reduction of our own status to a slavish adherence to the United States; we want an unfettered policy for Australia in Asia. The Opposition deplores the folly and lack of foresight of a foreign policy, the only possible aim of which is to chain tHe United States to South East Asia by embroiling it in a war which President Johnson says could last two years and which Harrison Salisbury believes could last twenty years. These are the criticisms which the Opposition makes of the Government’s Vietnam policy.
The Government is now firmly bound by its initial folly in committing Australian troops to Vietnam. There are two ways in which it can remedy it’s serious mistakes of the past: firstly, it can exert maximum pressure on the United States to open immediate negotiations for settlement of the war and, secondly, it can transform Australia’s commitment from a military commitment into a commitment for civilian aid to Vietnam.
– Has the honourable member been there?
– I intended to outline briefly the ways in which the Government should be operating in both these areas. I have not been to Vietnam, but I say to the honourable member that if he is prepared to volunteer for service in this area I am quite prepared to offer my services again in the interests of this country. As I have said, we believe there are two ways in which the Government can remedy its serious mistakes of the past. The Holt Government’s record in its efforts to settle the war is a dismal one. The United States wants a settlement. President Johnson said in 1965 that he was prepared to open negotiations at any time for a settlement. Russia wants a settlement. Mr Kosygin made this plain in his recent talks with Mr George Brown of the English Cabinet U Thant wants to bring the warring parties to the conference table. Representatives of a score of European, Commonwealth and Asian countries have pressed for negotiations. What has Australia done? Its slate is unsmeared. By default this Government is opposed to negotiations and stands for the tragic expansion of the war which is proceeding at this moment.
The Government is sadly misjudging the tolerance of the Australian people. There is a widespread feeling among Australians that the Government should be exerting maximum pressure to achieve a compromise peace in Vietnam. This is pointed up by a recent Gallup poll which found that two out of three people interviewed thought that Australia should move for a compromise peace. Only 27% of those interviewed thought that America and her allies should fight on for a complete victory. This should bring home to the Government that the Australian people are losing patience with the Government’s Vietnam commitment. The scare tactics which the Government has used for so long to prevent negotiations and justify the escalation of the war will not prevail for much longer. The Government is building up Australia’s military commitment in Vietnam. It should be using its influence to scale down the scope of the war. Instead, the Government has adopted an uncompromising attitude towards any attempt at a settlement. Its vision is so limited that it sees Australia’s future security as assured only if America can be chained down in South East Asia to act as a shield for Australia.
It appears that what has been called the reciprocal phase for negotiations has passed. This was the time when a scaling down of American bombing in North Vietnam might have been accompanied by a visible reduction in North Vietnamese infiltration in the south. This could have satisfied the conditions of both sides for negotiations. Unfortunately, the North Vietnamese did not give the sign of good faith that the Americans required and blame for this failure by a hairsbreadth’, as Mr Wilson referred to it, lies solely at their door. Now the bombing and shelling of North Vietnam have been accelerated by the Americans. The Minister sees the changed attitude of Russia as the only new element in the search for negotiations. Undoubtedly Russia wants to end the war. There are so many areas in which the Soviet Union wants closer ties with the West: non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, agreements for the exploration of outer space, greater east-west trade, and many others. But Russia is heavily committed to aid North Vietnam and it cannot abandon North Vietnam while heavy American bombing continues. This is the appalling impasse which has been reached at the moment: the participants and the Soviet Union want negotiations, but through North Vietnamese failure to cede ground the possibility that reciprocal scaling down could lead to negotiations has faded away. As a tragic consequence, America has intensified its bombing of the north and augmented it by naval and artillery action.
In the past American bombing of North Vietnam has been a futile exercise. It has failed to choke off supplies to the south and it has not weakened North Vietnamese resistance. The increased bombing has destroyed the Minister’s hopes for Russian pressure on Hanoi for a settlement. It is inconsistent of the Government to express optimism for a change in Russia’s attitude towards a settlement at the same time as it supports an escalation of American bombing which militates against Russian intervention. Now that the time for reciprocal progress to the conference table has passed, the Government should be exerting all its influence for a general ceasefire in Vietnam. This should cover American bombing and shelling of the north and the military operations in South Vietnam. Senator Robert Kennedy has said that the two essential elements of a compromise were an end to the bombing and a realistic approach to the composition of the Government of South Vietnam after a settlement. An end to the bombing of North Vietnam is necessary for a ceasefire, and a ceasefire is necessary for rational negotiations which would plan a new democratic regime for South Vietnam. Plainly the principle has been established that South Vietnam will not be a Communist State after a settlement. But a settlement should include some form of amnesty for members of the National Liberation Front, except those who have infiltrated from the north. These should be allowed to withdraw. There should be provision also for some political participation in a post-war South Vietnam by former members of the National Liberation Front after a suitable cooling off period. There should be firm undertakings that a post-war government would grapple with the social problems, such as land reform, which lie at the core of South Vietnam’s agony of the last twelve years.
The National Liberation Front and Hanoi must be shown decisively that South Vietnam will not be handed back to the generals after a settlement. If these conditions could be guaranteed and the basis laid for a broadly based civilian government dedicated to reform and reconstruction then the National Liberation Front and Hanoi would be much more likely to accept the disguised defeat which a settlement would represent. If this were achieved South Vietnam could form part of an internationally guaranteed neutralist belt in South East Asia. It would not be garrisoned by American troops. These are the sort of proposals for a solution the Government should be exploring. It must not allow chances for a settlement to drain away as the war grows in ferocity.
There is widespread dissatisfaction with the scope and operation of Australia’s civilian aid to Vietnam. Speakers from both sides of the House have referred to this question during this debate. It is not a matter that has been confined purely to Opposition members. I can see at once that
Government members have a direct interest in it. It is pleasing to note that more Government members believe that Australia’s contribution could be greater if our civilian aid were increased. In the past year there has been a stream of criticism from responsible people who have inspected our civilian aid programmes and found them pitifully inadequate. I want to show up the shortcomings of our present aid programme by comparing briefly the efforts of South Korea and Australia in civilian aid to South Vietnam.
In January it was announced that South Korea would send 30,000 civilian technicians to South Vietnam to work in rural projects and pacification programmes, the resettling of refugees, and the operation of vocational training programmes. South Korea has undertaken to supply 2,000 agricultural, forestry and fishery technicians and its Government has donated large quantities of farm tools, fertilisers and seeds. South Korea plans to bring about 700 Vietnamese to its homeland for training in advanced agricultural and fishery techniques. I emphasise that the decision to send 30,000 civilian workers to Vietnam was made rather than to reinforce South Korean military units to South Vietnam. Admittedly South Korean civilian aid and military aid are substantially underwritten by America. But this contribution in manpower, training and equipment by South Vietnam is magnificent and illustrates the meagreness of Australia’s contribution.
The Minister referred to the technical advisers sent to Vietnam by the Australian States. This assistance is for a limited period and its impact must be negligible. Using the Korean effort as a gauge, Australia should be able to support an army of at least a thousand civilian aid workers in Vietnam. Why are we not bringing Vietnamese technicians to Australia for advanced training? With our vast agricultural resources why are we not making generous gifts of fertilisers and farm equipment to Vietnam? The Minister’s statement serves only to emphasise the inadequacies of our civilian aid. The Government’s scanty civilian aid outlay stands in striking contrast to its enthusiastic expenditure on the build-up of Australia’s military commitment in South Vietnam.
In conclusion, I would like to stress to the Government the dangers of binding Australia’s policies inextricably to those of our great American ally. America has its own policy objectives to pursue. It has made mistakes in the past but its international record in the past twenty-five years has been marked by a generosity of spirit unsurpassed in history. The Labor Party has always proclaimed this. We say it is not anti-American to evolve an Australian foreign policy which expresses an independent line. It profits Australia little if Vietnam is saved and the great Indian subcontinent crumbles away. We must remember that the Government’s preoccupation with what America is doing blinded it to the potential Communist threat in Indonesia. Only a great stroke of fortune saved Australia from the interposition of a vast Communist state between us and the American forces in South East Asia. A continuation of the bombing of North Vietname must weaken our links with Japan which for historical reasons has little sympathy with strategic bombing. Three great non-Communist powers are emerging in Asia - India, Indonesia and Japan. Our foreign policy should be devoted to forming treaties and alliances with these powers whose co-operation will be vital for Australia’s security in the years that lie ahead. This is the way Australia should be shielded from Communist adventurism - not by encouragement of a war-
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
.- It was indeed a great privilege for this House to hear the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) making his first speech on foreign affairs as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I am sure that everybody was waiting for these remarks which perhaps would give some form to Labor’s foreign policy to be put before the Parliament and the people of Australia. But I do not believe that the people of Australia or the Parliament can get much clarity from any of the speeches so far made by members of the Opposition. I think it is reasonable to look at the situation that we have in front of us. However, before we do perhaps I should say that the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party used in reference to the speech of the Minister for
External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) the terms arrogance’, ‘sterile’, ‘little different in tone and statement’ and many other terms which I felt were rather offensive. But his having said them I waited to see how he would perform, lt appeared to me that perhaps he would have been better occupied picking apples or doing whatever it was that occupied his time up until this particular period, because nobody in this House was anything but amazed when he was selected as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It is interesting to note what the former Chairman of the Labor Party Foreign Affairs Committee said about the Labor Party, as re-formed, in respect of foreign policy and so forth. Mr Allan Fraser, the former member for EdenMonaro, in an article published in the Sydney ‘Sun’ of 14th February 1967, said:
Much as 1 hate to disillusion anybody, no change in Labor’s Vietnam policy nor even in the Victorian ALP Executive will follow last week’s Caucus election . . . Talk of a dramatic switch of power groupings in the party is wishful thinking. On the new Executive the weight, both in number and ability, is greater than previously against any watering or playing down of foreign policy. Victoria is also stronger. The party elections have given Labor a new look. Yes, certainly. But it is not in policy, it is in the men … To me, the really startling feature of last week’s events has been the virtual elimination of the so-called Right-wing’.
I understand that at the Labor Caucus meeting yesterday the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) attacked the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) telling him that he had no right to appear on television. Indeed, I am informed that he called him a dove. We do not think that the Leader of the Opposition is a dove; we think he is closer to being a chicken. Without a doubt he is much better when giving interviews to ‘Woman’s Day’ and ‘Women’s Weekly’ because he performs and looks well.
– Mr Speaker, what rights have members to correct a completely misleading statement such as has just been made?
-Order! There is no point of order.
– I am asking for your advice on this, Mr Speaker. The honourable member has been referring to a confidential meeting and his remarks have been completely false.
– Order! An honourable member cannot interrupt another honourable member while he is speaking unless it is on a point of order.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. Is the honourable member for La Trobe in order in discussing affairs of the Labor Party and members of the Labor Party when the House is discussing, or is purporting to discuss, a ministerial statement on foreign affairs? Yesterday, when the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) was discussing the matter of Senator Hannaford’s departure from the Liberal Party and the reasons for it the Deputy Speaker ruled that he could not do so. I ask you, Mr Speaker, whether what the honourable member for La Trobe has been saying is in order.
– There is no point of order. The honourable member for La Trobe should confine his remarks to the Minister’s statement on foreign affairs.
– Very good, Sir. I am sure, however, that you will agree that we must, during a foreign affairs debate, refer to statements made by the Opposition because this is the Australian Parliament and the Australian public is interested in this subject. Let us see where the Labor Party stands in relation to foreign affairs. In Fact’, the Australian Labor Party’s journal, of Friday, 2nd December 1966, this statement was attributed to the shadow Minister for Health, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns):
Like all good motorists, keep to the left.’
I will not read the whole of the article because I have not the time, but it goes on to state that Labor should stick to the left. I presume that if the Labor Party loses right wing seats by doing this, that is to be expected. In the ‘Age’ of 10th September 1 965 we read the heading:
Dr Cairns attacks Labor right wing.
In that article the honourable member for Yarra refers to the following statement by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley):
Mr Beazley said the ALP had approved the strategy of war by subversion by accepting the Vietcong as a negotiating authority.
The article goes on in that vein. These are the things that this Parliament and the people of Australia must remember when they hear members of the Labor Party criticising Australia’s foreign affairs policy. They must also remember that although the Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate has said that Labor’s foreign policy has not changed, on the television programme ‘Four Corners’ there was a slight deviation by one of the temporary senior players in the team.
Let me revert to what the honourable member for Bass has said. In speaking about relations with South East Asian countries, he made an extraordinary statement about the magnificant aid that South Korea had given to South Vietnam. He was loud in his praise of the fact that this nation had been able to send so many thousands of troops and specialists to South Vietnam. But he did not tell us that the Labor Party had sent a telegram of complaint to the South Korean Government for having taken that action. The people of Australia ought to know these things. Nor did he say that, due to the educational facilities which were established in South Korea by the Americans and through American aid, that country has more technicians, specialists and other highly trained people than can be employed there. Indeed, one of South Korea’s problems is that she has not the jobs for her people after she educates them. Education is a good thing and I am not complaining about it. I merely point out that many trained South Koreans have been sent to South Vietnam.
I come now to what certain members of the Opposition have said about Australia’s support of America’s policy in South Vietnam. The Prime Minister of South Vietnam was invited to Australia. Some people did not like that. Some thought that what he said may not have been completely true. Not only the Prime Minister but also members of the Constituent Assembly of South Vietnam came to Australia. Prime Minister Ky fronted up to the Press. Was there one Labor leader or one Labor man anywhere who had the courage or decency or even the interest to meet this man face to face and make the charges that had been made snidely all over Australia? We do know that the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), then Leader of the Opposition, led protest marches. In making a great play to the public of Australia he had said in this House and in other places: ‘I will go to Hanoi; I will go anywhere for peace; I will do anything for peace’. But when the Leader of South Vietnam came here, where was he? He was in the King’s Domain, on the river bank, speaking against Vietnam and what we were doing. And who was behind him? The people behind him were mainly Communists or stooges of Communism. How a party like the Labor Party could allow its leader to lead marches while behind him the marchers carried the Vietcong flag and the North Vietnam flag, I am sure the people of Australia are still waiting to learn. The Opposition must tell the Australian people where it stands.
The members of the Opposition continue to charge us with following the policy of the United States. They talk of peace and of a settlement, but their only suggestion is that the bombing be stopped. They seem to have the idea that if the bombing is stopped, everything will be all right. They do not say how many times the bombing has been stopped; nor do they tell us at what cost in Australian, American and South Vietnamese lives this has been done. In fact, I wonder whether they are even interested in that. They also talk about acceleration. When we are fighting a war, there is no chance of winning or even of going close to winning - even accepting the proposition that a military conclusion is not the one we necessarily want - if we ask the troops to sit down and allow the enemy to reform and build up. We will pay that in lives - the lives of Australians, Americans and others who are fighting for freedom. I have heard no honourable member opposite speak ill of North Vietnam. All they pick on are matters that they construe as weaknesses in the Press interviews given by Premier Ky. My honourable friend from Yarra made much of this sort of thing and I am sure he will continue to do it.
Premier Ky told us, ‘and I believe him, that there is no freedom of speech in North Vietnam and that although certain people there are sympathetic to the South they are not allowed to speak or to take the action they want to take. We know that people were prevented from going from North Vietnam to South Vietnam once the curtain was pulled down. Premier Ky says in effect that if the regime in Hanoi decided to ask for Chinese aid, those people and others would rise against that regime. The parallel
I would use here is that Labor Party leaders co-operate with people who have ideals in the same spectrum, although these people have been rejected by most of their supporters. There are still some who hang on and think that some courageous members of the Labor Party will be able to rejuvenate it. There may be similar types in North Vietnam. But if the Labor Party were to come out and admit clearly and openly to its supporters and to the people of Australia that it does co-operate with the Communists, the rank and file of the Party, and the people generally, would rise against it. I am not saying that Hanoi and China are not co-operating. As proof that they are, we have the recent disclosure of the number of Chinese who are in North Vietnam as advisers, helpers and so on. The parallel that I have mentioned is indeed sound. The Hanoi regime has refrained from seeking aid from China not because it would not like that help but because it believes that to do so would be dangerous at this stage.
Let us now examine what the Labor Party in Australia is doing towards taking the initiative in seeking peace. Take first the statement that we pushed America into this war and are responsible for America staying there. This is utter rubbish and could have been picked only in a back room of some pub, or wherever it is the Labor Party has its debates on foreign policy. America was in Vietnam before Australia went there. Do members of the Labor Party suggest - one of them certainly implied it - that we should act unilaterally; that without consulting our allies we should say to North Vietnam that we will sell out or agree to certain conditions which if adopted would mean that Australian troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam? What effect would this have on the United States - and not necessarily solely the United States, but the other nations of South East Asia? I have listened to speakers on the other side of the House and the inference seems to be that we should not be tied in that way but that we should go out ourselves and make this direct approach. I say that the Australian people rejected this and that they will continue to reject it.
We have heard Opposition members time and time again standing in this House and quoting certain academics. I could almost name the academics that the honourable member for Yarra is going to mention in his speech which will follow mine. The Opposition members pick out an academic here and an academic from somewhere else. But who are these academics, what are they and what say do they have in the United States? What the Opposition members do not state are the votes in the United States Senate and in the United States Congress. When they quote Robert Kennedy - this mythical man with the locks of hair all over him, who in my opinion is acting to keep himself in front of the American people but who, most emphatically, is not acting on behalf of the United States - they do not say what support he has in the Congress or in the Senate. There are other people who are quoted. My honourable friend who will follow me in this debate is in the habit of quoting such people as Denis Warner. But he takes only a fraction of what is said. He does not put the whole thing in perspective. I have never heard Denis Warner support the policies propounded by the Labor Party. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) mentioned what Mr McNamara said about bombing but he did not give the whole context of the speech. He endeavoured to fool the Australian people and the nation into believing that these people are supporting what the Labor Party is putting forward at this time. This I do not believe.
I would like to say in conclusion, Mr Speaker, that everybody in Australia desires peace but the situation as far as the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia or France are concerned is not necessarily the position of Australia. We are in this area. Perhaps the people of the United Kingdom can say: ‘It does not have much to do with us. Perhaps it is a nuisance and we should do all we can to finalise it.’ I have spoken to many people from the United States and I have read certain things. When they are quoted as saying that America should get out of this conflict, what they are saying is, We should not be affected. To hell with South East Asia; to hell with Vietnam. Why should we be losing men there? We can live within our own shores. Let them sweat it out.’ But I remind the Labor Party that we live in this area. New Zealanders and Australians have to live here. When people talk of peace and of resolutions, if they mean we should have peace on any terms, as they often lead me to believe, that would be a most dangerous course of events. We all hope that the stage will be reached at which a conference is held but then other nations will come in and make suggestions. Frequently, such suggestions only lead to, or are only intended to bring about peace for two, three or four years. At the end of that time the forces have been dispersed; you are back in exactly the same position and the opposing side moves forward again.
We do not want in South Vietnam a similar set-up to that which was established under the 1954 agreement. That was unworkable. Neither side co-operated. The United Kingdom and Russia were the opposing chairmen and they decided never to agree. We do not want a situation similar to that in Kashmir where other nations came in,, sat down, and then said, ‘Well, this will get us peace for five years although it will not solve the situation. But let us have this agreement and then we will get out and it will not be our responsibility.’ The Australian people, the Thai people, the Laotians, the Malaysians, and others live in this area and what is happening now will have a great effect on our future and on the future of the children of this nation. I am sure that the Australian Government desires peace as do all the people. However, we are not desirous of selling out and are hot desirous of doing so solely on Communist terms as I believe certain honourable members on the opposite side are.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
– by leave - I wish to announce the appointment of the honourable member for Henty, Mr E. M. C. Fox, as Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council following the resignation from that position of the honourable member for Ryan, Mr E. Nigel Drury. The honourable member for Henty has always demonstrated a deep interest in Australia’s immigration programme and personal concern for the welfare of migrants. He is a foundation member of the Government Members’ Immigration Committee and has been Secretary of that Committee since 1957.
He becomes the sixth Chairman of the Immigration Planning Council. The Council was formed in 1949 to advise the Minister for Immigration on planning Australia’s immigration programme, the ways in which immigration can contribute to a desirable pattern in national development and the absorption of migrants into the Australian economy. We are most fortunate in the willingness of the outstanding men who serve on the Council. I am sure that Mr Fox will be able to make a fine contribution to the important work of the Council.
The honorable member for Henty succeeds the honourable member for Ryan, who has been Chairman of the Immigration Planning Council for the past four years. During this period Australia’s intake of settlers increased from 102,000 in 1962-63 to 144,055 in 1965-66 and the Council made recommendations to the Minister of the day with far reaching effects on the financing of immigration programmes and the recruitment of migrant workers for Australia’s industries. All members know the quality of the honourable gentleman. I am glad to count him a warm friend and colleague. He will receive the tribute of myself and members of the Council at its next meeting in Sydney next week. I would like to express to him now the thanks of the members of the Council, my own thanks and indeed the thanks of a very broad section of the community to whom the immigration programme - in which he has played so important a part - is of high national importance.
– by leave - Having been advised by my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) that the maritime unions concerned have indicated their willingness to sail ‘Jeparit’ to South Vietnam with naval personnel replacing the members of the Seamen’s Union, if that Union was not prepared to co-operate, arrangements have been made for the ship to sail with naval sailors replacing the eighteen members of the Seamen’s Union.
As has been stated, problems are presented by this mixed manning of the ship, but the Government has been anxious to avoid prejudicing the interests of all the members of all the responsible unions who are prepared to continue to meet their obligations. To facilitate the mixed manning, the naval party will be under the command of Lieutenant R. E. Winter, RAN, from HMAS ‘Perth’, who will be assisted by Chief Petty Officer R. V. Ware, from HMAS .D.,-1–..’…..’ The sailors, who have been drawn from various establishments, are mainly from the seaman branch, with some engineering mechanics to replace members of the Seamen’s Union who work in the engine room.
The function of the naval officer-in-charge will be primarily for liaison duties with the master of the ship, whom he will assist with all matters relating to the working of the ship by the RAN personnel, their administration and welfare. The naval party will be subject to naval discipline administered by their own officer. The naval officer and sailors will be paid normal naval pay and allowances while serving in ‘Jeparit’, in the same way as other naval vessels which voyage to and from Vietnam in support of our forces there, such as HMAS ‘Sydney’ and HMAS ‘Boonaroo’.
In accordance with principles which have been approved by Cabinet relating to the employment of Service personnel in such situations, the difference between the amount that would have been paid by the shipping line to the members of the Seamen’s Union - including war zone loading, overtime and penalty rates - and the amount that will be paid to the naval sailors, will be passed to the RAN Relief Trust Fund. This is a Navy-wide welfare fund which exists to make interest free loans to assist serving personnel in the purchase of houses and furniture or in meeting personal financial emergencies. The fund is popular and widely used throughout the Service.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 555).
- Mr Speaker, if we are to form foreign policy for South East Asia - and that is what we are involved in - we must start with an objective. I think an objective was satisfactorily stated by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in his speech last week when he said:
There is inevitably going to be a great change in Asia and the whole world has an interest in helping it to be peaceful change leading to security and economic development.
I welcome the Minister’s statement of this as an objective. Some honorable members will recall that last year I stated a similar objective in the words of E. H. Carr, the British historian. But if we are to achieve an objective like this we must know what we are dealing with. It is at this point that I depart most seriously from the Minister and from existing American policy in Vietnam. My account of what has happened in South Vietnam has always differed from that of the Minister and the Government. To begin with, I agree with the French historian on Vietnam, Professor Phillipe Devilliers, who is one of the world’s half dozen leading experts on Vietnam. He said:
For many years Washington has presented the background of the war in Vietnam in a way to suit its own interests. This Orwellian re-writing of history which twists or obliterates every significant event between 19S4 and I960 is now accepted by millions of well-meaning but uninformed people in many parts of the world. The official American version is so powerfully financed and widely spread through mass media that millions of people all over the world are now unable to know the truth.
I have never heard a spokesman for the Government attempt to come to grips with this kind of conclusion. Of course, among those who are unable to know the. truth are the Australian Government and its advisers, as well as most of the Government’s supporters. It is for this reason that an honest man or one who puts honesty above politics, like Senator Hannaford, having wrestled with the problem has finally solved it. It is not desirable to know the truth about Vietnam only because the truth is desirable to know but it is necessary to know the truth if South East Asia is to be made safe for peaceful change - the Minister’s objective - and if the war in Vietnam is to be prevented from extending to Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and perhaps Malaysia.
Let us summarise then, for the purpose of obtaining a background, the recent history of Vietnam. The story of the second Vietnam war does not begin with any northern or Chinese assisted or inspired insurrection in South Vietnam. The story begins in South Vietnam with the American determination to by-pass the Geneva Agreement of 1954 and to ensure that South Vietnam did not go Communist or partly Communist by an election or in any other way. This is what is meant by American statements such as: ‘Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam, that is, it must not be allowed to go Communist or part Communist’. This at the beginning and all the way through has remained the American objective. It remains so because it is seen as part of the power struggle against China. It is not necessarily an unacceptable objective. What was unacceptable about it was the method adopted to achieve it. The American Government of 1954 chose Ngo Dinh Diem and his methods to achieve America’s objective of holding South Vietnam against the Communists. The choice of Ngo Dinh Diem meant that America had chosen the methods of the police state or a dictatorship to hold South Vietnam. These methods could not succeed in South Vietnam and I submit that they cannot succeed anywhere else.
Diem began by purging the Army. Then followed his war against the sects. Soon he began to arrest many thousands of leftists, democrats and Communists in violation of the provisions of the Geneva Agreement, which he never recognised. With American help he created a network of informers and a police organisation throughout the country. Despite intensive searches, interrogation, fingerprinting, arrests, imprisonment and executions, the power of the Diem regime did not grow. In 1957-58 villages began to create self-defence units and to resist police and Army intrusions. By then what became known as the war of liberation in South Vietnam had begun. But many of these villages had had nothing to do with the Vietminh and nothing to do with Communists. From 1958 onwards antiCommunists in Saigon realised that Diem was playing into the hands of the Communists and was creating his own enemy - a guerilla movement opposed to him and supported by the people. Attacks against the Diem regime by right wins antiCommunist militarists began in 1959 and lasted until Diem was finally overthrown and killed in November 1963. But it was from the village based anti-Diem movement that the Vietcong, as Diem called them, and later the National Liberation Front eventually came. Their action was originally a defensive action against a despotic government out to restore the landlords and money lenders and to eliminate opposition by police state methods. The revolt in Vietnam was the direct result of the repression by the Diem regime of its opponents in Saigon and in the villages.
Early in 1959 the southern anti-Diem movement asked for Hanoi’s support. Hanoi declined to give its support on the ground that its intervention would bring the United States into the struggle and endanger Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence, which was the prevailing world Communist line at that time. Hanoi recommended that the southerners demand reforms from the Diem regime. Hanoi at the time was still anxious to talk directly to Diem about trade, particularly rice, and the future of Vietnam as a whole and not even openly to recognise any opponent or enemy of Diem. From 1959 those who took what can be called the Chinese line were in favour of encouraging the South Vietnamese to use revolutionary war against Diem but they did nothing to assist directly. In 1959 Vietminh veterans in South Vietnam decided to adopt organised and open military action against the Diem regime. At the same time they called for drastic reforms and for the setting up of a coalition government in Saigon. The National Liberation Front and the Vietcong started at a village level to give mutual protection and assistance. This was built into the traditional Vietnamese pattern of nationalism. Throughout these stages ‘the National Liberation Front was totally self contained and locally enlisted. As it grew it welded together the local spirit of defence, the widespread and deep feelings of nationalism and, of course, Vietnamese Communism. Had it not done so it would have failed. But in fact it succeeded. Although it was always a complex movement, Communists were significant in it from the beginning and exercised much of its leadership.
Communist Party members in South Vietnam were always part of the Communist Party of Vietnam as a whole. The crucial issue at the Communist Party Congress in
North Vietnam in September 1960 was whether the Party should support those in the South engaged in their dangerous struggle or whether they should be advised to compromise. In this debate, from a distance, the Russians advised compromise and the Chinese advised support. As a result Hanoi openly recognised the National Liberation Front, resolved to let it decide its own policy, backed it with resolutions and told it that the Communists of the North were the source of its inspiration and strength. But little was done to back it up.
Then there was the story of infiltration of men and materials from the North, almost always based upon figures that had come from Diem’s officials. Even until 1965 this story was based on this shaky source. It was not until 1962 that the Ho Chi Minh trail was first used. It was not until 1963 that weapons of any significance - .50 calibre machine guns - were found. It was not until 1964 that any resident of the North was found in the South. But even this cannot be properly regarded as aggression by one country against another. Vietnam is and has remained one country, not two. The Geneva Agreements and the claims of all Vietnamese are emphatic on this point.
Almost from the beginning the organisation of the National Liberation Front and its methods of conducting the revolutionary war were closely patterned on those of the north, which in turn were patterned on those of China. But until after the overthrow of Diem in November 1963, northerners or even recently northern-trained southerners had little power in the day-today operations of the Vietcong. The overthrow of Diem was followed by the north saying that the National Liberation Front was too bourgeois and it began at this stage to exercise increasing influence, which did not pick up momentum until the middle of 1964. From then there has been an increasing growth of influence from the north. But by the time the American case of aggression from the north had been prepared and documented in 1965, almost alone from South Vietnam Government sources, the supply of men, materials and arms used in the south was only marginal to the total of men who were fighting with the Vietcong and to the arms they used. The supply of both men and arms has increased in the last eighteen months, and will continue to increase as long as the war in Vietnam continues and there will soon be increasing Chinese participation.
Although the pattern of revolutionary war in other parts of South East Asia will not be exactly the same as in South Vietnam, if it is to be understood elsewhere the essential features of what has happened in South Vietnam must be understood. I think these essential features can be summed up in this way: firstly, the insurrection in South Vietnam began and continued for a long time as a defensive reaction to the police state methods of Diem, but by 1958-59 independent South Vietnamese revolutionary action had begun. Secondly, what happened then was, and probably still remains, South Vietnamese in origin and in substance. It was a home grown product not even imported from North Vietnam, although after 1963 increasingly influenced by North Vietnam and forced closer to North Vietnam as the war extended and intensified. Escalation of the war had a powerful effect in causing what it was supposed to prevent - more northern infiltration and influence in southern affairs.
Thirdly, the motivating forces of this revolution were nationalism and Communism and desire for political and economic reform, with Communism increasing its influence as the struggle became more military and more uncompromising on both sides. Again the escalation of the war increased what it was supposed to prevent - Communist power and influence in South Vietnam.
Fourthly, the revolutionary movement is almost alone political, economic and national in its early stages, but these influences decline as it is transformed more and more into a war. They have remained substantial in South Vietnam even up to the present day.
Fifthly, almost from the beginning the revolutionary movement or insurgency uses violence but depends, if it is to be successful, upon action to win the support of the people. It is not mainly a matter of terror; it is mainly a matter of winning the people over to its support. Sometimes terror - the killing of people motivated alone by cruelty, intimidation and retribution, and in South Vietnam it had begun by 1957 - is carried out, but most of the killing in a revolutionary war is the killing of informers and bad officials or the killing of people in what is in fact a civil war. The technique of terror or intimidation which is used is inherently bad; it is a by-product of failure to win the support of the people in other ways and must itself fail.
What then can we conclude from these circumstances about the war in Vietnam and about what should be done in the other areas? General Maxwell Taylor, in his disappointing recently published book ‘Responsibility and Response’, has a number of significant conclusions. At pages 44 and 45 he said:
This rough tabulation of costs -
That is, of the cost of the war in Vietnam: in dollars and manpower is a sobering reminder of the difficulty of resisting a ‘War of Liberation’ which has become full blown and reminds us of the great importance of the prevention of such situations in preference to intervention after the situation has developed into guerrilla war.
From now on, I think the first aim should be to end the war in Vietnam and perhaps a cessation of bombing and control of operations on both sides rather than their escalation is necessary. Perhaps it will be necessary for something to develop out of the National Assembly in Saigon in the form of a substantial, viable government. Perhaps it will be necessary for such a government to come into close relations with the National Liberation Front so that some effective government in South Vietnam can emerge. But it seems reasonable to say that while this is taking place, and it will take a considerable time in my opinion, the war on both sides should not be escalated. The de-escalation of American military action in Vietnam, or even an eventual military withdrawal by the United States from Vietnam, will not reduce America’s power or will to contain China nor will it reduce America’s presence in South East Asia. I think it can be said that the main purpose of Australian foreign policy is to do everything possible to involve America in South East Asia and to keep her there. This too is a legitimate objective. The question is: how can this best be done and what are the consequences of it?
I think the truth is that continuation of the war in South Vietnam is imposing such a military cost on the United States - perhaps now $30,000m a year - that even she cannot afford an effective presence elsewhere in South East Asia or even an effective political and economic presence in South Vietnam. The war in Vietnam has to end, I believe, before America can exercise an effective presence in South East Asia. Her presence has to be political and economic, not military. And it has to recognise, as the Minister himself has recognised, that there is inevitably going to be a great change in Asia. But in the case of South Vietnam, America’s presence has contained an inevitable escalation to more and more military action and to the choice of military leaders against civil or political leaders. Our Government made that choice when it invited Cao Ky to Australia. In the case of South Vietnam, America’s presence not only did not recognise the inevitability of great change, which the Minister now recognises, but backed up fully the governments of Diem and those thereafter whose main business was to stop any change at all.
John Kenneth Galbraith, who is leading American thought on this subject, said in the Massey Lectures in 1966, at pages 40 and 41:
There can be no effective design for economic development in the Model lt countries-
As he classifies them: which does not disestablish the non-functional group::- which does not separate them from political power and, pari passu, reduce or eliminate their claim on income. This solution applies equally whether power derives from land or other hierarchical wealth, the army, the nonfunctional bureaucracy or some coalition of these.
I believe that if this type of American intervention is to be extended to Laos and Thailand, to the small, indigenous insurgency in those countries, it will result in counter-insurgency, suppression without reform and the struggle will escalate more and more into an extension of a South Vietnam type war all over South East Asia.
To allow the American presence to become effective and permanent in South East Asia, the war in South Vietnam, I believe, must stop as soon as it can be stopped and America must turn from what might be called the South Vietnam method of opposing inevitable change by more intensified military reaction to a method that recognises the inevitability of change, realises that it is predominantly home grown, economic and political in nature, and finds ways of working with the eco nomic and political content of that change. How can it be done? The answer to this question is not simple. But we must do everything we can to stop the recurrence of events in South East Asia like those in Vietnam, where the conjunction of Communism and nationalism is far stronger than anywhere else. We must recognise the inevitability of change, as the Minister now does, and begin to find ways of working with it. Recently Senator Robert Kennedy put it this way:
When the needs and grievances of the people begin to be met by political processes, insurgency
That is, war: loses its popular character and becomes a police problem. If all that a government can promise its people in response to insurgency activity is ten years of napalm and heavy artillery, it will not be a government for long. Our approach to revolutionary wars must be political - political first, political last, political always.
I submit that what has been wrong with the Government up to date and what is wrong with the thinking in this House continuously, is that the only kind of answer that supporters of the Government seem to have in the final analysis is to turn to counterinsurgency methods and war, not recognising the inevitability of change as it has now been recognised by the Minister.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This evening, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has given us one construction of the affairs in Vietnam. I am about to commit what he calls a mistake and pursue what he alleges is a mistaken doctrine. I do not want to pursue him through his offering to the House tonight, but I do direct attention to his statement that although Vietnam was partitioned in 1954 the Ho Chi Minh trail was not used until 1962. In 1963 Chinese weapons appeared in South Vietnam. In 1964 there was the first appearance of North Vietnamese personnel in the South. I remind the honourable gentleman that it was not until 1965 - until this war of aggression from the North against the people of South Vietnam was well advanced that American forces began to appear and to build up in South Vietnam.
The practice of calling the Vietnamese affair a ‘civil war’ is part and parcel of this programme of over-simplifying what is in fact a very complex situation and is at the heart of the error which the Opposition in this House constantly preaches. Of course we live in a disturbed area of the world. It will remain disturbed for a long time. Until the forces of nationalism - I was going to call it ‘ideological ambition’ but I take the words of the honourable member for Yarra and call it ‘Communism’ - reach some accommodation, there will be no stability in South East Asia. Consideration of Australia’s changing place and responsibility is therefore important at this stage. It calls for emphasis on South East Asia, where this country’s foreign policy calls for military intervention. There is, of course, some added emphasis at the moment because this Government sits in this House with a record majority behind it because it properly assessed the thinking of the Australian people to support a move to protect the people of South Vietnam and generally to oppose the march of Communism in South East Asia. If the Opposition finds itself short of numbers at the moment and under new management it is because both the old management and the members themselves completely underestimated the temper of the Australian people. Any party which so misunderstands the temper of the people deserves richly to be in Opposition.
I think that the first lesson for the new management of the Labor Party will be that if you presume to lead the people you had better first find out in which direction they want to go. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on attaining the next great step towards his ambition. He is to take the lead in external affairs and this is, of course, as it should be in view of the importance of external affairs. I have long admired, and even envied, the capacity of the Leader of the Opposition in oratory and persuasion, but I cannot help thinking that he is deceptively smooth in his presentation and in his oversimplification of these complex problems. He has, of course, a worthy disciple in the honourable member for Yarra who has made his presentation this evening. For this reason we need to examine with extreme care the implications of the submissions from the Opposition on this matter. It has been stated on behalf of the Labor Opposition:
Australia’s true interest . . . lies immediately in stopping the war in Vietnam; it lies in the longer term in achieving a negotiated settlement, under cover of which Vietnam can progress towards political, economic and social reform.
It seems pertinent to point out that the nations of the free world presently engaged in stemming aggressive Communist expansion in South East Asia, in respect of that area, enjoyed peace until very recently. They have put that peace in pawn voluntarily in their belief that the people of South Vietnam - representing in this context the peoples generally of South East Asia - had a right to be free of aggression from without and free from subversion from within so that they could progress towards the political, economic and social reform which both Government and Opposition in this House accept as an object of our national interest and concern. So, Sir, merely to re-establish the peace voluntarily given away is not merely enough. It must be a peace which has regard to the war aims of the free world forces. The Government, therefore is interested, not in the Labor Party’s simple ‘let us have peace’, but is interested in the kind of peace it is to be. The Opposition says that our interest lies in stopping the war immediately. Therefore I think it is worthwhile examining the options. The first of these would undoubtedly be to accept the four points put forward by Hanoi and one need go no further than the first of these to reject that proposition. The first point, honourable members will recall, is:
The United Stales must withdraw its forces from South Vietnam, dismantle all United States military bases there, cancel its military alliance with South Vietnam, and stop its acts of war against Vietnam.
When to this is added the fifth point of the National Liberation Front, which is the political wing of North Vietnam in the South, that the Front should be accepted and recognised as the sole authentic representative of the people of South Vietnam, the proposition simply cannot be entertained. It would mean, in fact, acceptance of the proposition that the aggressor could represent the best interest of his victim. The treaty and moral commitments of the United States, Australia and others of the free world forces would mean nothing in the future. It would have the most serious repercussions around the world where the United States, in particular, has any number of commitments of this kind.
A second alternative has been put forward seriously in some areas. It is that by an increase of free world military strength some kind of balance - some kind of military stalemate - might ensure while the war goes on in a low key. In this kind of situation the advantages would inevitably lie with the Communist power of subversion and terror and would play precisely into the hands of the Communists. They have made no secret of the advantages they see in a protracted war of attrition. The free world forces would find themselves like a tree surgeon standing by while the white ants eat the heart out of the tree.
There is, of course, a third option, lt is that we should get the war over as quickly as possible, either by military means or through negotiations, to which Hanoi will be attracted when the cost of continued aggression against South Vietnam becomes unbearable. But this, Sir, is not to be achieved quickly. After all, the free world forces under American leadership have voluntarily confined themselves within conditions which virtually prevent the armed forces from winning a quick, and to North Vietnam, a costly military victory. It is worthwhile to have in mind the limited war aims put so clearly by President Johnson when he stated them as: to prevent the aggressor from succeeding, without attempting to either conquer, invade or destroy North Vietnam.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government was not interested in achieving a negotiated settlement and went on to say that it has been cool about any peace proposals. History records pretty plainly, as I understand it, that there has been a year or more of intensified effort to find a way to negotiations on the part of the Pope, on the part of a number of heads of government and on the part of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. But in spite of the openly declared willingness of the United States to enter into unconditional talks at any time, there has been only one response from Hanoi, and that has been to put forward the four points which are completely unacceptable.
The Opposition demands for negotiations, therefore, run into some difficulties, since negotiations can never be unilateral and Hanoi remains singularly unresponsive. It is an unfortunate but essential consequence that every form of military pressure against North Vietnam must continue, even to the bombing of military targets in North Vietnam. In spite of self-imposed limitations, this constitutes a powerful area of strategic persuasion against the forces of North Vietnam. It provides a situation in which the military effort is arranged to give the enemy opportunity to reflect from time to time on the level of destruction, and to weigh the diminishing chances of winning the war against the good sense of responding to an open invitation to negotiate.
Of course the Government would like to see an end of bombing, but our experience with past bombing pauses and particularly with the new year truce give little encouragement to believe that extensions might reasonably be offered, or to the hope that they will encourage Hanoi towards conference. On the contrary, the evidence is clear that over the period of the new year truce between 15,000 and 25,000 tons of logistic supplies were brought from North to South Vietnam - enough to keep a full division in heavy combat for a year. This carries with it the implication, of course, that the allied cause suffered a net setback which must, over a period of time, be retrieved by further effort and, no doubt, casualties. Even this afternoon the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), when directing attention to this very question of the new year truce, pointed out that it was a golden opportunity for Hanoi to make a reasonable response, and he admitted that there was no response at all and therefore the responsibility rests with the Government of North Vietnam.
We understand, of course, that Hanoi has been engaged in a high-powered campaign all over the world, mustering public opinion with the aid of Communist world forces, to try to produce an end to bombing. This is all in support of Hanoi’s arrogant demand for an unconditional end to bombing. We are not fools; we understand that an end to bombing would be the finest kind of military victory for the Communists in North Vietnam. It would provide them with a sanctuary from which to continue to mount and support aggressive action against South Vietnam. In the light of the already serious limitations, self-imposed, on the use of American military power, acceptance of this further limitation demanded by Hanoi would be unreal.
The Leader of the Opposition indulges in a little fantasy with his quaint ideas on the relations between the United States and Australia. It is very interesting that these ideas should have been repeated on a number of occasions this afternoon by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and again tonight by the honourable member for Yarra. Just as an earlier and wiser Labor leader saw great virtue in having an American presence in this part of the world, so this Government makes no secret of its satisfaction at the fact that the powerful United States should be prepared to deploy its political and military strength in this quarter. But the initiative for that action was purely the initiative of the United States. It is fanciful in the extreme to suggest, as do honourable gentlemen opposite, that Australia is keeping America - and I am quoting the words of the Leader of the Opposition - ‘embroiled and bogged down’. It is even more fanciful to suppose that we would have the power to do so.
The Opposition completes the fantasy by suggesting that President Johnson would really like to enter into negotiations but that he is somehow being persuaded to refrain because this might mean leaving Australia out on a limb’ - those words again belong to the Leader of the Opposition. Since Australia is a part of the free world forces and enjoys, I assure you, the closest harmony with the Government of the United States in matters affecting affairs in South East Asia, the suggestion that we should go our separate ways at the end of this joint venture makes me wonder whether the honourable gentleman is merely being ridiculous or whether he is hopeful of breaking up the Australian-American alliance.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried to tell us this afternoon that land reform was at the heart of the Vietnamese difficulties over the last twelve years. Anybody who reads history - and not the simplified version given tonight by the honourable member for Yarra - is able to follow the course of events right from the days of French colonialism and through the war years; he will be able to follow the efforts of the Communists after 1954 and then the three stages of this so-called people’s war of liberation. It is all taken directly out of the military handbooks of Mao Tse-tung, who did not invent this kind of war, of course, because the doctrines of the people’s war or of guerilla wars are as old as time and warfare itself. But the period from 1954 to 1963 saw the first phase of guerilla warfare. It was in this period that political cells in South Vietnam were established. It meant the superimposition on whatever unstable political system existed there of a disciplined political system owned and controlled by the Communists of North Vietnam. It moved into its second phase, the recruiting and training of guerillas, and General Westmoreland has made it known that in his view the guerilla forces available to North Vietnam in South Vietnam are the greatest in number and the best trained and most skilful at their profession that the world has ever seen.
This is the kind of organisation stealthily built up in South Vietnam to support northern Communist aggression, and of course by 1965 this political infrastructure had become so strong that it was possible to make a move towards mobile and conventional war; and it was at this point, when the South Vietnamese were on the brink of being overwhelmed, that the United States and later other free world forces came in to give their support. Happily, Sir, in the two years which have passed since then we have seen a complete reversal of form. In the last twelve months the Communist forces of the North have not won a single major engagement. They have seen a great build up of military power, in terms of numbers, fire power and mobility, in the South, and in fact they see the war steadily being won by the free world forces.
Four war aims are being worked out in South Vietnam at this time. The first is to contain Communism, the second to end Communist aggression from North Vietnam and the third to put an end to subversion and terrorism in South Vietnam. And all of these, of course, pave the way for a successful attack in what has been called ‘that other war’, which is the attack upon poverty, illiteracy, poor social conditions, the lack of political development, and all the other things which prevent not only the people of South Vietnam but the people of South East Asia generally from stepping into the era of social, political and industrial advancement which the enlightened conscience of the modern world is prepared to underwrite. We need to be reminded of the declarations that followed the Honolulu Conference in which the United States declared its willingness to underwrite massive social and economic advancement in the depressed areas of South East Asia. But it is nonsense to believe that this effort can make any real progress while ever a country like South Vietnam is denied the opportunity to govern itself in its own way and to rebuild its national institutions in peace and security.
The other night in this House the Leader of the Opposition took my ministerial colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) to task, referring to the Minister’s cold, hard approach to the question of a conference because in March a year ago the Minister had said that we must avoid the risk that eagerness to find a peaceful solution might lead to adjustments in our position which come perilously close to yielding ground which must not be yielded. It seems timely to warn again that impatience as we approach the time when negotiations may become possible might well be extraordinarily dangerous and expensive to the free world cause and consequently to the cause of the people of South Vietnam. It may well be, if we are not careful, that Hanoi will win at the conference table what she has been unable to win militarily in the field. If peace in Vietnam or peace in South East Asia is to mean anything it must be a peace which guarantees complete security for the people of Vietnam and, through them, the people of the rest of South East Asia. We do not want a peace that leaves a smouldering fire. If Vietnam were to fall to Communism it is not hard to understand the difficulties and uncertainties into which the rest of the nations of South East Asia would be plunged. Whether or not we believe in the domino theory we must accept that the security of these nations would be vastly diminished, if not completely destroyed. It is therefore of the very essence of this country’s hopes for the advancement of South East Asia that aggression in the region shall be stopped now, and prevented for the future. It is this which makes our military involvement in South Vietnam, in pursuit of our foreign policy and the good of the people of South East Asia, completely meaningful.
- Mr Speaker, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has just added another few thousand words to the many millions of words that have already been spoken and written about the war in Vietnam. This evening he has followed the pattern that has been followed in this House for a number of years by all Government supporters. He has criticised the proposals that the Opposition has made in an attempt to bring about peace and end the dreadful war in Vietnam. But at no stage this evening did he offer one practical solution. He gave us not one word of practical advice about how the war in Vietnam could be ended. Nobody on this side of the chamber suggests that any peace settlement achieved in Vietnam should give all the spoils of victory to the North Vietnamese and those who fight with them. Nobody on this side has ever suggested that the Americans ought to suffer a rebuff in any peace settlement that may be offered or entered into.
The Opposition, in the various debates on this subject that have taken place in this House, has at least made some attempt to formulate proposals that might be effective in achieving peace. However, I have never yet heard one member of the Australian Country Party or the Liberal Party of Australia in this place offer one practical solution. Are all honourable members opposite happy to see the war in Vietnam continue year in and year out? Are they all happy to know that thousands of Vietnamese are being killed, maimed and injured? Are they satisfied to know that millions of dollars are being wasted on arms and equipment that are used only to destroy? Are they satisfied to have the people of Vietnam and the rest of Asia go without homes, without clothing and without food? Are they satisfied to have those people destroyed by war? Are they satisfied to know that Vietnamese are being destroyed by Australian soldiers who are fighting there for something in which most of us believe - peace, harmony and goodwill among the nations of the world?
This war cannot be allowed to continue for ever. The United States of America has made certain proposals designed to bring about peace. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has made certain peace proposals. But these propositions appear to have fallen on deaf ears every time. Proposals made by the Australian Labor Party in this place with respect to social service benefits and the provision of additional finance for housing and education also appear to fall on deaf ears when we talk to members of the Liberal and Country Parties. Yet, eventually, the haze begins to lift from the eyes and the minds of Liberal and Country Party Ministers and gradually some of the policies that Labor advocates are implemented.
Unless Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom continue to put forth proposals to end the war in Vietnam it will continue for ever and a day. This sort of situation does not satisfy the Opposition, it certainly does not satisfy me. Until I hear of a proposal indicating that honourable members opposite, and particularly Ministers, are doing something beneath the surface 1 shall never be satisfied. Until 1 am convinced that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), through his departmental officers, is trying to do something to bring peace to Vietnam I shall certainly not be satisfied that this Government is acting in the interests of the Australian peoples. I wish to say no more this evening about the war in Vietnam, because I believe that what has already been said will continue to be said for a long time. I hope - I pray - that someone somewhere in the world, in the next week or so, can come forward with proposals that will cause the leaders in Hanoi, Saigon, the United States and other countries that are participants in the war to sit down and iron out the dispute which has been occupying so much of our time and finances and which has been costing so many lives for so long.
The subject that I wish to discuss this evening, Mr Speaker, is one to which the Minister for External Affairs devoted only about two pages of a speech that occupied some thirteen pages of ‘Hansard’. In those two pages, we find observations about the activities of the United Nations. But throughout that part of his speech the Minister made no mention of the activities of the Trusteeship Council of the General Assembly concerning our administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It seems to me that the Government wishes to keep this matter hidden and out of discussion. In the past two or three years we have received reports by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly known as the World Bank, on economic development in the Territory and. also a report on higher education there. Those reports have been presented in this House and the responsible Minister has proposed motions that have been placed on the notice paper for discussion. But at no stage has the Government made any attempt to allow debate to proceed so that those reports could be discussed.
The Minister for External Affairs, in his statement, though he mentioned the activities of the United Nations, made no mention of the criticism that is levelled against Australia over its administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. But I believe that although the Government attempts to keep this topic hidden and away from discussion it will figure more and more in the affairs of the United Nations, more and more in the news of the world and more and more in discussions in this House in the next few years. It will probably loom larger than any other topic that will be discussed. Wc have to realise that the indigenous people of the Territory are on the move. They will be supported in their aims by many of the newly emerging nations in Asia and Africa. Resolutions adopted when our administration of the Territory is discussed in the United Nations will become stronger and more urgent and the criticisms will become harsher. The resolution on Papua and New Guinea, and Nauru, that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last December was in stronger terms than any other previously adopted. In part, it stated:
The General Assembly,
Calls upon the Administering Power to implement the following:
Removal of al! discriminatory electoral qualifications,
Abolition of all discriminatory practices in the economic, social, health and education fields,
Holding of elections on the basis of universal adult suffrage with a view to transferring power to the peoples of the Territory,
Fixing of an early date for independence.
The voting on that resolution was eighty-one for and eight against. The eight nations which opposed it were Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Twenty-four nations abstained. The Australian delegate at the United Nations, Mr Dudley McCarthy, outlined all the difficulties facing Australia in bringing the Territory to early independence. He assured the General Assembly that Australia’s aim was to assist the people of Papua and New Guinea as quickly as possible to achieve their own independent destiny as one nation. He stressed the improvements made in education and employment and the increase in financial assistance given by Australia. He also spoke of the growth of local government councils and the increase in the number of members, and the alteration in the structure of the House of Assembly. He made an excellent speech but it had no effect on the delegates from eighty-one nations who voted for the resolution of which I have just quoted part.
What the Minister for External Affairs and the Government have to appreciate is that, despite the arguments that we may advance to justify not giving the Territory of Papua and New Guinea independence, we shall be pressed to give it independence and we shall be pressed to do so quickly. This pressure will increase year by year and will come not only from inside the Territory but also from outside the Territory. Our administration of the Territory is going to bring us grave problems and very harsh criticism. For this reason I feel that it is most important that the portfolio of Minister for Territories be handled by a senior Minister who is sensitive to the needs of the people of the Territory and aware of the international implications of our every action in the Territory. Australia cannot afford to have the present Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) holding this portfolio. He just does not seem to appreciate the pitfalls in his portfolio. Some of his statements have brought Australia under criticism. His most recent one, made last Friday, which has caused controversy in Australia and outside Australia, certainly will be used against us in international forums. It is that statement which perhaps makes me suggest to the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) that it is time to change the Minister holding this portfolio.
I am not surprised that the present Minister for Territories made such a statement as he did last Friday. I am prepared, however, to accept his denial that he used the words ‘if at all’ after stating that it would be many years before Papua and New Guinea achieved independence. But he certainly was stating a view that he has held for a number of years. Since he became Minister for Territories he has always believed that the people of the Territory would not be ready for independence for a great length of time. In September 1965 I asked him a question in this House and in reply he said that it could be twenty years before the Territory would be ready for independence. He said that he based this assessment on what he had been told by Papuans and New Guineans in rather remote areas of the Territory. He said that he had been told by these people: ‘My son’s son will probably see self government’. He said that he was prepared to accept the advice of these indigenous people in the rather remote areas of Papua and New Guinea. He repeated exactly the same sentiments last Friday when he said that he was reiterating what had been told to him by people in rather remote areas of the Territory. It has not yet dawned on him that the pressures for self government and independence are already being applied by the son and that we will not have to wait for the son’s son before they are really upon us. This pressure will increase year by year and every son who receives higher than a secondary education will join in the pressure upon the Australian Government to grant them self determination, self government and independence.
The Minister claimed in this House last Tuesday that the report of his speech in the Melbourne ‘Age’ on Saturday was correct, yet that newspaper in an editorial on Monday said:
It is unfortunate that the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) should have told the world that he doubted whether Papua-New Guinea would ever be completely independent of Australia. Having hammered out over the years the doctrine that the people of the Territories can decide on the timing and nature of their independence whenever they choose, the Commonwealth could hardly have chosen a worse time to appear to be going into reverse. There could well be bewilderment in Papua-New Guinea and anger in the Trusteeship Council.
A little later the editorial states:
He has risked sowing dismay in Papua-New Guinea, where the more forward-looking native peoples already see independence as just around the corner. Although the House of Assembly as a whole may be slow to ask for full nationhood, the more sophisticated among them are eager for it, and bis statement can do nothing but bring resentment and suspicion where there should be friendly co-operation.
He has given Russia, China and the AfroAsian bloc the ammunition they gloat overbullets to shoot us down as a ruthless colonial power. Already these countries attack us year by year, without bothering to ascertain the facts. This time they will certainly not bother to search for what the Minister actually meant. They will take his speech at its face value, and increase still further their grinding pressure on us to leave the people of the Territories in the lurch before they either want or could handle their independence.
The ‘Canberra Times’ in an editorial headed Clumsy Talk’ said on Tuesday, 7th March.
The Minister for Territories has an unfortunate capacity for saying embarrassing things. The newspaper which allegedly misreported his views on New Guinea independence last Saturday can speak for itself, but the Minister was unwi.se to go even as far as he admits he went. He says he expressed doubts whether Papua-New Guinea would ever be completely independent of Australia; he believed from his talks with natives that they would choose to remain in close association with Australia. The Minister’s guess could conceivably prove right, but to express it as he has is to invite the dangerous interpretation that his policies are aimed in the same direction as his guesses. In fact the choice, to be independent or to seek links with Australia, remains open to the New Guinea people, unrestricted by any ministerial clumsiness. This does not mean tha* there should not be public discussion of what kind of links might be feasible. Tt would be sensible to talk about that, so that both sides have an idea of all the possibilities. But Mr Barnes had best simply listen.
The two editorials state the position clearly. The Minister’s statement was a bad one and will do Australia’s international reputation great harm. I do not think we can regain that lost portion of our reputation while the present Minister is allowed to retain the portfolio. The Minister for External Affairs must, for Australia’s sake, prevail upon the Prime Minister to make a change of Ministers. Even with adept handling of the Territories Ministry, Australia will still have to face harsh and un founded criticism in the years ahead. Mr Speaker, I ask that action be taken in this direction by the Government.
– I also wish to make a few remarks on the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) on the highly important issue of foreign affairs as it affects the Australian people today. In so doing I must say that we have had from the Opposition this afternoon a demonstration of the most extraordinarily diverse opinions that I have heard for a long while. We have heard from my friend, the inventor of military hardware, the honourable member for Capricornia (Mr Gray), talking as a result of his great genius for invention, on a wide variety of things. He advised us not to become excited about Vietnam. I suppose it is all right for the honourable member for Capricornia to suppose that he should not become excited about Vietnam, but I remind him that his Party not very long ago challenged the Government to an election on the issue of Vietnam. This side of the chamber will not duck the issue, whether the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) wishes to spend thirty seconds on the subject and then brush it off or whether the honourable member for Capricornia decides not to treat it seriously.
We are quite content to debate and to discuss Vietnam seriously because we on this side of the chamber feel that we have a case based on common sense. It is not one based on blind ideologies or one based on bearded theatrical debaters but one based on the practical politics and the practical common sense of the world political situation as we see it today. The honourable member for Capricornia came forward with one sensible suggestion. He reminded the House that the areas with which we are concerned are subject to change from year to year. If I remember rightly he said that he did not wish personally to buy a Japanese car, although the situation had changed over a period of years. I am delighted to note that some members opposite realise that changes are occurring. Surely the main difference in the attitude of the parties at the last election was that the Government parties recognised that changes were taking place. It is no earthly use the Opposition saying that it now believes in change, because not many months ago its leader abused the democratic process in South Vietnam. The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) this afternoon indicated that many of the nations which are members of the United Nations do not have majority rule.
Many persons, including myself, have been to seminars in Malaysia and in other areas and have heard the problems of the people in those areas. They believe that democracy must grow from the grass roots and not be impressed from the top like a dictatorship or totalitarian situation. The word ‘democracy’ must be used carefully. What exercises my mind is the fact that so many members of the Opposition do not appreciate that changes are occurring. They keep hammering at us and asking: ‘Why don’t you declare war?’ or ‘Why are we fighting in a situation where war has not been declared?’ This reveals a complete lack of understanding of the change that has occurred. Recently I was speaking to a man who had been sitting in the public gallery of this House. He had fought in seven undeclared wars in the last few years. I had forgotten that there had been so many undeclared wars. Why were they undeclared? The answer is obvious. In these days of atomic power no-one is game enough to escalate a war to the stage where there is a declaration of war as there used to be in the old fashioned style. Times have changed, and we have a new situation to face. In earlier days we did not have a Department of External Affairs, nor did we have ambassadors resident in many countries. We are now living in a new situation, with a new type of war.
Who we are to declare war on in South Vietnam is anybody’s guess, yet every Opposition member that 1 listened to during the election campaign held this outmoded concept of war and asked why we did not declare war and have total war conditions. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) came close to reversing the argument this afternoon when he suggested the blocking of boundaries between countries - the blocking of the boundary between South Vietnam and Laos; the blocking of the boundary between South Vietnam and Cambodia: and, indeed, the blocking of the boundary between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. There is probably much in what the honourable member suggested, but as the honourable member for Chisholm pointed out, this has not been done up to the present because it would result in an escalation of the problem. Admittedly it might result in a quicker solution of the situation. I am not debating that, but I am seriously suggesting that the Opposition cannot have its cake and eat it too. In these days of nuclear power, we agree to take war to a certain limit and we are automatically caught by that condition. If we think this is not achieving the desired effect then it might pay us to examine an article in the ‘Bulletin’ of 4th March 1967 by Peter Samuel, because this article brings up to date all the things T half saw or half believed when I was in South Vietnam last June. It is an excellent article that puts matters in proper perspective. He writes:
The Vietcong are simply unable to mount serious offensive operations any more. Apart from the overrunning of a remote Special Forces camp in March, the Communist troops gained not one military victory in 1966.
He goes on to describe other aspects of the situation. This is a good article and I have no reason to doubt its authenticity. This man has been in Vietnam to check his facts more recently than any of us in this chamber at present. It is right that we should remind ourselves that the current Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is at slight variance with remarks made in the past by his predecessor who sought to fight the election on the issue of Vietnam, and he is at variance with the remarks of several of his colleagues. I was mildly amused at the questions and answers that resulted from a certain television interview recently. The questioner asked: ‘Could I ask you about Vietnam? Will the Labor Party advocate the recalling of Australian troops from Vietnam?’ to which the Leader of the Opposition replied: ‘No. The only way the troops can come back now is if there is a settlement - if there is an armistice. One would hope that by the time the next House of Representatives election comes around there certainly will have been that.’ I do not know why he harps on the subject of elections unless it is rank political expediency, but we were suddenly faced with a complete somersault. We had a party which wished to fight an election on our involvement in Vietnam, yet in the interview we had, to say the least of it, a highly qualified statement. The questioner then asked: ‘Are you in favour of Australian troops being in Vietnam now?’ and the answer was: ‘They are now committed. There is no question about this.’ I am glad that they are committed. The Leader of the Opposition was most perceptive in making that statement, in spite of the fact that one or two Opposition speakers this afternoon evidently did not agree with him. He was then asked: ‘Would you withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam now?’ and he said: ‘No, but this is an academic question now’.
– He is an academic.
– One might be excused for thinking that he was jelly fishing. Quite clearly this becomes an issue when an election is due. Why is it an issue only when an election is due? Why this sudden scuttling back to playing at argument with what is a matter of high principle? From his remarks it seems that the Leader of the Opposition regards this as a matter of political expediency. He was asked: ‘So your policy is not to withdraw the troops?’ to which he replied: ‘Now I am not going to limit our policy to Vietnam or South East Asia. No. Ask when the next elections are to hand’. What an answer is that. I do not know from this interview where the Leader of the Opposition stands. 1 assume, if he is going to prevaricate, that he does not know where his party stands. This is the only possible inference I can draw.
I wish briefly now to refer to comparatively recent happenings. I have every reason to believe that a certain senator was behind a South Australian demonstration against the holding of elections in South Vietnam. I believe he supported the demonstrations because he regarded the elections in South Vietnam as not being democratic. As I have already mentioned, the honourable member for Chisholm indicated how many countries in the United Nations have some semblance of majority rule. I should like to present some facts concerning the election in South Vietnam. I believe these facts have been checked. In the election for the South Vietnamese Constituent Assembly there were 531 candidates standing for 108 elected seats. The Vietcong, having deprived South Vietnam of the export of rice over some years by their activities, then proceeded to try to terrorise the people of South Vietnam. They not only tried to terrorise the people against voting but they also tried to frighten the candidates from standing. From 25th July until the closing of the poll, there were approximately 500 Vietcong attempts at terrorism, gaining in impetus just prior to the election. During the election weekend, 30 people were killed and 167 wounded. If the honourable senator felt that this is an alternative democratic process, then it seems rather unusual logic to me. And all of this occurred in spite of very great security efforts by the Government of South Vietnam. In all, 4,274,812 persons out of a total of 5,288,512 registered voters recorded their votes. In other words, 80.8% of the persons enrolled voted at the polls. The Vietcong and the Buddhist Institute asked their voters to invalidate their votes. In spite of this, there was a return of 80.8%.
I was interested in the attitude of the Buddhist Institute because, speaking from memory, South Vietnam is the headquarters of the militant Buddhists. Just prior to going to South Vietnam in, I think, last June, there was not a shadow of doubt in my mind that the mass media of Australia had been saying - I hope I picked it up accurately - that Tri Quang, the leader of the militant Buddhists was, amongst other things, against the involvement of overseas troops on South Vietnamese soil. Because Buddhism was the majority religion, and because the Press had told me that Tri Quang was the leader of the militant Buddhists, I went to South Vietnam believing that his views represented the thinking of the majority of the people of South Vietnam. But this just is not so.
For proof of what was told to me shortly after my arrival in that country, we have only got to look at the breakdown of the election results themselves. Thirty-four Buddhists were elected and not one of them was a militant Buddhist. In other words, we must assume that the thirty-four Buddhists who were elected are all moderate Buddhists who believe that foreign troops should be on South Vietnamese soil in order to assure to them the right of secret ballot and freedom of expression. There were thirty Roman Catholics standing independently, seven Confucianists, ten Hoa Hao, and five Cao Dai. The religions of the remainder are unknown. This is fairly important because 1 imagine that many other people in Australia believed with me that the militant Buddhists represented the thinking of the time. I suggest to this House that the figures I have quoted prove the error of that opinion coming from the mass media of Australia.
If that is not enough, we can perhaps, in considering whether there is a democratic process operating in South Vietnam, turn again to the opinion of Mr Samuel who says:
The many freedoms that apply in South Vietnam weaken the frequent foreign accusation that the Government is oppressive. The right to organise trade unions exists and they are not tamecal unions. Religious institutions are left alone, so much so that when we were there the police lost a Vietcong fugitive through accepting the sanctity of a pagoda. There is freedom to organise political parties and freedom of assembly.
There is freedom to protest. These are facts that one must take into account when trying to judge whether a country such as this has political freedom and democratic processes.
I am suggesting tonight that a great deal of progress is being made in South Vietnam. I am suggesting tonight that the Opposition has misjudged the people of Australia. I believe that the majority of people in Australia today are prepared to make their own feelings secondary to the interests of a society and of a country that has given them education, health services, housing, defence and a safety that they can feel. In short, I believe that the majority of the people of this country are prepared to sublimate their own personal feelings to the interests of Australia as a whole. There are, of course, those who express dissenting opinions and no doubt some of them talk from a high moral plane indeed, but I do feel that people who object to national service training and to our involvement in South Vietnam are of the opposite kind. They, on the whole, are people who are prepared to put their own personal feelings and their own personal ideas of comfort ahead of the interests of the nation, ahead of the safety of the nation and ahead of the future of the nation.
I do not expect everyone to agree with my thinking on this and 1 would not deny others the right to express an alternative point of view. However, I do feel that there is nothing wrong with being perhaps slightly old fashioned and saying that Australia has been made great by people who have not considered only their own comfort, but who have envisaged the greatness of this country and who have agreed out of loyalty, out of reason and out of common sense, to measures designed to ensure the future safety of this country.
– The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has drawn attention to what he calls the diversity of views on the Opposition side of the House. I think that Government supporters - and here I speak from my experience of being a government supporter when I was first elected to this Parliament - always rally behind what is done. They have a natural unifying point. Honourable members opposite rallied behind R. G. Menzies over Suez. Honourable members opposite rallied behind R. G. Casey when he worked diplomatically, and with material assistance, to re-establish French authority in Indo-Ohina. They had a unity of view; diversities of view were expressed from the Opposition. But it does not follow that anybody looking back on that unity of view over Suez and that unity of view over the attempt to re-establish French authority in Vietnam would necessarily say today that those efforts were right.
The tragedy of Vietnam today is that there are two Vietnams, created after that foolish attempt to re-establish French authority which gave the Communists so much influence in Vietnam and created by international authority in 1954 in the Geneva settlement - an international authority which, since then, has virtually abandoned Vietnam. It ought to be a policy objective to get international authority back into Vietnam. I think, for instance, that when the American forces were intervening in Asia as part of a United Nations force in the Korean war, they were accepted everywhere in Asia as much more disinterested than when they intervened in Vietnam simply in the name of an intervention by the United States.
I believe that Australia, in regard to its foreign policy on Vietnam, should make five decisions. The first of them is that we genuinely aim that the people of Vietnam should be able to decide their own future uncoerced by any form of terrorism. The second is that the people of Vietnam should be assisted to make good the losses sustained in a generation of war. We in fact owe them restitution for our part in the utterly futile effort to keep French rule rivetted on them - which effort Australia assisted, diplomatically and with material. Thirdly, I believe that the original project of a united and truly independent Vietnam should become the objective again of the United Nations and it should be insisted upon by the United Nations as the objective of the great powers. If U Thant were capable of the clarity of Dag Hammarskjold - and he does not appear to be - the United Nations would be insisting to all great powers and to both Vietnamese regimes the need for self-determination under neutral supervision. There would also be United Nations intervention against the regime which rejected this. Compared with United Nations intervention in the Congo, Cyprus and Egypt, Assembly action in relation to Vietnam is woeful, even nonexistent, and part of the weakness of this position is the weakness of U Thant’s leadership. The fourth decision is that what form of society should emerge in Vietnam should be recognised to be the prerogative of the Vietnamese people, and Vietnam should not be thought of as a pawn in the game of great powers. Fifthly, we should recognise to the core of our beings that the Vietnamese people have rights and the need for a dignity of existence apart from our strategic interest and apart from our alliances. I would not dispute this dignity as recognised here by the Government, but is it a priority or is it a sideline? We sometimes speak of the difficulties of civil assistance on a battlefield. What are we doing therefore in Laos and Cambodia where there is as yet no battlefield but where war could develop?
The only motives in our policy are: to maintain the American alliance. This is vital but it is not an Asian policy in itself. Secondly, we wish to encourage the American presence in South East Asia. This, again, is not an Asian policy of itself. Thirdly, we recognise the strategic importance of the area to Australia. That importance is a fact but this is not an Asian policy in itself. These objectives may bc laudable, unavoidable and necessary, but they are not policies centred on the real needs of Asian people. Only such policies will create anything permanent in Asia. Military intervention, however necessary, cannot be unlimited in scope and time and political, economic, moral and morale viability must be created.
There is a cynical anagram current in journalism in the United States of America. The initials of ‘winning hearts and minds’ are WHAM. All you need is superior fire power. This is false. In all our past wars the local population has been part of the scenery. Malays looked on while Japanese and British Empire troops fought in 1942. Egyptians looked on while Rommel’s troops and British Empire and American troops fought in 1943. But in Vietnam the people are not part of the scenery. They are the battlefield. 1 do not underestimate terrorism. In two years 13,000 village leaders were killed by Vietcong. Many of them were school teachers. They were tested ideologically. They were approached at night and told to distribute pamphlets to the children to take to their parents. If they refused they disappeared, and their friends were left in no manner of doubt about the death they died. To us the war in Vietnam may be a matter of politics - and it certainly has been in this country - but to the Vietnamese it is a simple matter of what will happen to their children. Will they live? Will they be allowed to have any education at all? What is to happen to 10,000 students in Saigon who cannot go home to their villages? On both sides among the Vietnamese are the normal, the tepid, the conscripted who wish to be left alone but are in the Vietcong or Government forces. On both sides are members of the same family. But the hard core of the Vietcong are men passionately possessed by an idea and they will live and die in the jungle to secure the final triumph of that idea.
The terrorism of the Vietcong is matched by the terrorism of aerial attack and napalm. But is it really matched when it is so nonselective? I do not speak of our air attacks on North Vietnam but of air operations in South Vietnam. The napalming and bombing of friendly villages by mistake raises the other question: what of the villages where there is no mistake? If it be true that the Vietcong are holding them by terror, what of the effect on the oppressed when they are napalmed and bombed? Do they rally to us or to the Vietcong? There is currently a campaign to bring child napalm victims to Australia. What is really the effect in Vietnam of this action? What is really the impact on Asian minds of such weapons? Is it winning friends for the West? I know that stopping the ears and insisting that we are with the great powers is easy. When W. M. Hughes and Matthew Charlton warned Bruce about HMAS ‘Brisbane’ bombarding Chinese towns in 192S, the answer that satisfied the Australian people was that we were with Great Britain. But Hughes was right in foreseeing a China driven to hate the West and to Communism. Saying that we are with the United States of America satisfies the Australian electorate today, but I believe that the Australian electorate also would respond to a single minded wholehearted will on the part of the Australian Government to meet Asian needs, to do something adequate behind the military shield as well as to insist upon the military shield.
Communism in Vietnam has an all out intractable quality in the drive to take power. Have we an all out intractable quality in the drive to meet needs? Have we any determination whatever to reverse the flow of ideas and reverse initiatives in Asia instead of waiting for Communism to take the initiative - to create a crisis - and then try to contain it? We oscillate between saying that China is and is not involved in Vietnam. Chinese intervention has been strongly emphasised but never really documented or proved beyond the supply of some arms to North Vietnam. There has been a desire on the part of the Government to emphasise it until a request is made: well, if this is true, why not terminate trade?’ Then it is emphasised no more.
I think it is quite clear that military intervention of the kind and on the scale practised by China in the Korean War is not practised now in Vietnam. It is instructive to remember that the North Korean Communist Party is at the moment pro-Moscow and anti-Peking despite the fact that Moscow gave the North Koreans no assistance and China gave them much assistance. China is not a monolith. In the current turmoil in China we should take note of the regime’s fear of ideas, fear of universities and high schools which are shut down; fear of what is called Soviet revisionism’; fear of what is called bourgeois thinking’ - even diplomatic immunity has been castigated by the Foreign Minister as bourgeois thinking; fear of trade unions. I think that this is an opportunity to the West to say certain things which could reach the Chinese people, but we seem to say nothing.
We need to make it absolutely clear to China that although no-one will give way to threats nobody wishes to destroy China or the Chinese people. The power of Mao Tse-tung rests upon a seige mentality. It is a tragedy for the West that pogroms in Indonesia have led to the slaying of 30,000 Chinese merely because they are successful in business and education. This has been used to encourage people in mainland China to believe that they are hated merely because they are Chinese and it has led to intense dislike of the new Djakarta regime among the overseas Chinese. Mao Tse-tung said in his significantly titled publication ‘On Protracted War’:
Weapons are an important (actor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. Military and economic power is necessarily wielded by people.
We need to acknowledge that before the rise of the Communist regime the outside world treated China with utter contempt. In this contempt, during the 1920s, the Australian Government joined with its idiotic bombardments, and the West generally, with its provocative enclaves, impertinent control of customs, and arrogant supervision of trade. All these things are the subject of propaganda exhibitions in China today. It would cut the ground from under this propaganda if we acknowledged frankly that the past was wrong and asserted that we are done with that sort of thing forever.
We need to make it clear that any abandonment by China of her posture of hate towards the outside world will be met by a willingness to receive her back fully into the community of nations. Mao’s hate campaigns have in fact cut China’s influence to shreds in Indonesia, Africa and generally in the world. If in fact China abandoned her hate campaigns it is doubtful whether anybody could thrust her back into a secondary role. China can destroy the world when she has developed thermonuclear weapons but she will destroy herself as well. Let us make dead certain that our motive to China - I speak of the Chinese people whom I wish we would seek to reach over the head of their Government - is not to have a great people pressed back into a role inferior and secondary to ours. A bitter nation can never lead civilisation. A nation without bitterness can lead it.
We will get nowhere finally unless we value the Asian people as people. A genuine motive would be if we valued the Asian people as people. I believe that the Minister for External Affairs does but the spelling out of this motive requires the best thought of this nation - of its agriculturalists, engineers, health experts, oceanographers and educationists as well as its diplomats and Ministers of the Crown. We will fail if we are primarily looking for self interest and security and nothing else. If hopes are dupes, fears are liars, and fear is a disastrous counsellor in foreign policy. Security is a natural motive but it is not a final motive. Australian servicemen, American servicemen and South Vietnamese are buying time but what is being done with the time bought?
We have suggested summit conferences on all sort of subjects but we dp not suggest them in the face of a world problem of starvation and chronic underdevelopment through lack of capital, although these things underly instability everywhere. India, chronically unable to produce food for its mushrooming population, imports from the threatened rice producing countries of South East Asia. So does China. Burma and Thailand are sources of rice imports for Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. A summit conference on food and capital, initiated by Australia, which is generally trusted, might exorcise the spectre of famine and would be one of the greatest contributions to world sanity. Joint action to meet such fundamental needs could produce a new unity on the right basis among the great powers. If such a conference was sponsored by the West, other nations would find it embarrassing to turn it down. It would focus world attention on and single out those who really thought about the welfare of man as distinct from the propagandists who can only talk ad nauseam about the excellence of their social systems and the essential needs for their power. In a sense the United States, unilaterally, holds at bay starvation in India, but India is no nearer the solution of her problems, which can be solved.
Such a summit conference might produce a world trade in foodstuffs which would check any tendency of food exporters to seek an economy of food scarcity in the interests of prices and the tendency of food importers to cripple agricultural countries by taking advantage of competitive surpluses to force losing prices on food producers. It would force everybody into the field of real achievement. Even short of a full summit conference we need a foreign policy which sets out to induce Japan, Germany, Holland and other countries to play the specialised part which they can play in Asia.
The Vietnam situation has been with us so long and has so far not escalated to the great powers that we forget that General John P. Mcconnell, the United States Air Force’s Chief of Staff, has described the Russian equipped Hanoi area as having: the greatest concentration of anti-aircraft weapons that has ever been known in the history of defence of any town or any area in the world.
This means that Russian flak and missiles are already killing Americans and American counter measures are already killing Russian guidance, gun and missile crews, while normal diplomatic, trade, tourist and artistic relations continue. Nevertheless, the situation is dangerous. I believe that the new step necessary is repeated initiatives to get the United Nations to attempt what ought to be its role - to bring peace to a situation fraught with potential danger for the world.
Mahatma Gandhi used to say that ‘God comes to a hungry man in the form of a loaf of bread’. Where corruption comes to be believed to stand between a nation and bread, the regime will fall. Today India may be entering her last term of stable government unless Congress can solve her problems and corruption. Corruption, according to the Sanathan Committee of the Indian Parliament, is why the common man is losing faith in the Government. Kerala and West Bengal have voted Communist. West Bengal includes the great city of Calcutta. Kerala has voted Communist despite the deplorable record of a doctrinaire incompetent previous Communist regime some years ago. Countless people have been saved from starvation by the generosity of the United States. But India could threaten even the economy of the United States if her dependence continues much longer, when it is well known that a dynamic agricultural policy could raise India’s production.
Dr Sen, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, said:
We have to admit that more than halt the world’s population is still undernourished or malnourished. Food production is not keeping pace with population in the developing regions. Over the ten year period 1954-55 to 1964-65 food production per head in the developing regions increased at an average annual rate of only 0.5% . . .
Every mouth brings with it two hands. The hands of an Australian agriculturalist are fifty times as productive as those of an Indian, because the Australian’s hands are backed by capital, skill, fertilisers and social organisation.
I appeal to the Government to work for a world conference which will plan how we may, all together, put behind the hands of an Indian, a Pakistani, a Latin American or an African farmer the capital, skill, fertiliser and social organisation which will transform food production. I believe this is part of our mission in the world.
– I could not agree more with the closing remarks of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley). Being the final speaker In this debate it would be difficult not to repeat some things that have been said by other speakers. But some matters as they relate to the situation in Vietnam have not been dealt with in this debate. Having regard to the statement made earlier tonight by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Chipp) regarding the sending of supplies to Vietnam and the exchange between the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) and myself, I think I should set the record straight as to the manning of the ‘Boonaroo’ and the part played by the Seamen’s Union of Australia and a man who in my opinion was absolutely vilified. In big headlines the newspapers reported the remarks that were made in this House about Mr Nolan - claims that he was a traitor and had committed treason. In my opinion those allegations were cowardly. Character assassination under privilege will never have my support.
I say at the outset that 1 am not so concerned with the Seamen’s Union or the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The policy of the Australian Labor Party is and always has been: no interference in union affairs. To answer queries about our policy, we still stand behind the policy enunciated by the former Leader of the Labor Party when he referred to the sending of supplies to our troops in South Vietnam. Our policy is the same today as it was when enunciated by the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) prior to 26th November last. What surprised me was that when the man who had been vilified issued a Press statement it was so mutilated as to give the impression that he too was trying to hide something and was afraid to face up to the facts. That is the extent of the article in the newspaper. This is the Press statement. It reads:
Benson vindictively misused Vietnam ship dispute.
Mr Benson (Independent, Victoria) was charged last night with having used parliamentary privilege to vindictively vent his spite against the Victorian ALF Executive.
Mr Benson is a former member of the ALP.
The charge against Mr Benson was made by the Victorian Secretary of the Seamen’s Union, Mr B. Nolan.
In Federal Parliament on Tuesday Mr Benson accused Mr Nolan of initiating the dispute over the manning of the Vietnam supply ships.
Mr Nolan is also a member of the Victorian ALP Executive.
In Parliament Mr Benson said: “The sorry part of this is that it is not being initiated by the Communist Party, as one would expect, but by a member of the Victorian ALP Executive’.
Mr Benson added that the action of the Seamen’s Union was ‘despicable and treasonable’.
Mr Nolan said: ‘Mr Benson has had a long experience of the Seamen’s Union - he started off as a boy as a member of the union. He not only, should know the facts - he does know the facts.
Yet he chooses to ignore the truth.
I have known Mr Benson for years, and, I suppose I helped him in his political career as much as anybody else, and yet he has chosen me to be the means of venting his vindictive spite - under the protection of parliamentary privilege - against the Victorian ALP Executive.
Mr Benson knows, as well as anyone could know, that neither the ALP, the Communists, the Liberals, the Country Party or any other political party controls the Seamen’s Union.
The Seamen’s Union runs its own affairs, in the interests of its members, as it sees fit. Whether people agree or disagree with the union and what it does, is one thing. But anybody who says that any organisation outside the union influences what the union does is talking through his hat, and nobody knows this fact better than Mr Benson who was a member of the Seamen’s Union.
I am a paid official of the Seamen’s Union, and 1 obey the members’ decisions.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 take a point of order. The honorable member is reading to the House. Can he vouch for the accuracy of what he is reading? Is it possible and right to put forward Communist propaganda in this House?
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– He goes on to say:
Just to prove that Mr Benson is talking through his hat, I mention this in passing: far from “initiating” action, as he says, it so happens I was on leave when the dispute about manning the Viet supply ship started.
The truth is that Mr Benson maliciously used parliamentary privilege in an effort to damage the Victorian ALP on the eve of a State election.
Nobody who knows the facts is deluded.
But the public is entitled to know the truth about the trouble over the Vietnam supply ships. And the public is entitled to know the situation about the union viewpoint.
Here is the simple truth-
I know that this is hurting honourable members opposite:
Up to now the maritime unions have been manning ships taking supplies to Vietnam, and the supplies the union has been asked to transport have not included war materials such as bombs.
Once when bombs were included, and civilian crews raised objections, the war material was transhipped.
The fact is that civilian ships have not been asked, until recently, to carry war material - naval vessels have been used for war supplies since the Government’s involvement in Vietnam.
And right now there is a naval vessel. lying idle in Sydney Harbour, which could be used for the purpose of transporting war material to Vietnam.
But the Government has chosen fit not to use this ship. One wonders why?
The Government, instead of using this ship, and other naval vessels, has suddenly decided to throw down the gauntlet to the Seamen’s Union, and, in effect, has said: “Carry these bombs - or we will put in the navy.”
The situation now - as Mr Benson knows thoroughly- is that the ACTU has proposed that the Seamen’s Union should man ships under certain conditions.
These conditions, according to the ACTU, cover such points as adequate insurance coverage for personnel, increased explosive allowance, and proper protection being provided for the vessel.
But the Seamen’s Union cannot consider this proposal because the Government has not taken action to discuss with the union provisions recommended by the ACTU. if the Government were sincere and honest, it would have continued the practice of shipping non-war materials hi civilian ships, and dangerous war supplies in naval vessels manned and equipped for the purpose.
Alternatively, if the Government wanted to use civilian ships for transporting war material, it would have discussed the proposal, first, with the union involved, instead of arrogantly holding a gun at the union’s head.
Mr Benson accuses me ; under parliamentary privilege ; of treachery and treason by making accusations against the union, and alleging that initiated certain action.
Nobody knows better than Mr Benson what my record is - five years’ active service with the merchant navy during the war.’
I challenge the honourable member for Batman to go outside this House and make the charges he has already made against Mr Nolan so that Mr Nolan can take the action that I know he will.
– Is the honourable member supporting the Seamen’s Union against the ACTU?
– 1 will tell the Minister what we support. This policy of the Australian Labor Party was laid down by the honourable member for Batman. He was a member of the Committee that laid down this very policy, lt says:
There is no difficulty in separating conscripts from members of the regular army and so we will act in consultation with the American authorities, immediately we become the Government, to withdraw all the conscripts in Vietnam. Our first act as a government will be to abolish conscription and give orders that all conscripts in camp in Australia will be discharged forthwith.
The remainder of our troops will be brought home at the earliest practicable moment after consultation with our Allies and so as not to endanger the lives of any Australian or allied troops. While our troops are in Vietnam, we undertake to give them any support they might need. We will never let them down.
That is our policy. It also says:
As it is immoral to conscript our youths to die in Vietnam, so it will be immoral not to withdraw them when we become the Government. This we will do.
The honourable member for Batman was part and parcel of that policy.
– Which policy?
– You can twist and distort remarks that have been made on television as much as you like, but that is the policy of the Australian Labor Party. That is what we stand by. That is what we all stand by and will continue to stand by until it is altered.
-Order! There are far too many interjections. The honourable member for Gellibrand is addressing the House.
– It is remarkable that honourable members on the Government side try to distort remarks that have been made on television, but by the same token fail to realise that those people, particularly the honourable member for Batman, who attack the Australian Labor Party and try to insinuate that we should be doing something about the Seamen’s Union know full well what our policy is. The fact is that the honourable member for Batman laid down the policy of the Party about Vietnam in every letter and word when he was in the Australian Labor Party.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Batman is taking a point of order.
– The honourable member for Gellibrand said that I laid down the policy of the Australian Labor Party. I did, on 19th February 1965, and it was the policy for three weeks.
– What rot.
– And you agreed to it.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– And you congratulated mc.
-Order! The honourable member for Batman will resume his seat.
– I think he should. His actions are those of a man with a distorted and frustrated mind.
– Particularly as he has had a win.
– A win! Let him go out and see if he can win against the remarks he has made about Mr Nolan. If Captain Courageous-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable member for Gellibrand has said to go out and make a statement. I have made a statement to the Press and it will be published tomorrow.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, what I want to say this evening has to do with Vietnam. In reply to questions in the House we were told the reason for the involvement of Australia. Honourable members opposite are interjecting. They can fire shot and shell over my head, but it does not make any difference to me. I have lived too long with this character assassination and I think it is a most disgraceful thing. If any member of my Party were to get up and assassinate the character of a Government supporter or any other individual I would condemn him just as I condemn the honourable member for Batman. I am not concerned with the Seamen’s Union of Australia or the Australian Council of Trade Unions. They can fight their battles themselves. I am concerned with the principles of civil liberty and I say that it is a most disgraceful and low thing for any member to use the privileges of this House to make a statement such as has been made about Mr Nolan, a statement which the honourable member knows to be entirely untrue.
I said before that I agreed with the remarks of the honourable member for Fremantle. Many questions have been asked in this House and elsewhere about the reasons for our involvement in South Vietnam. Generally speaking the reason that has been put forward is that America has a commitment to South Vietnam and Australia has a commitment to America through the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and therefore must be an active party in the war in South Vietnam. Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask: to whom was this commitment made? When was it made? Where was it made? How was it made? Under what authority was it made? Are there any documents of any kind or any letters in existence? If there are, where are they? Where can they be seen? Is the Government afraid to inform us of these things? It is true that the SEATO treaty was signed, as has been said by previous speakers, in 1954 after the Geneva Conference ended the Indo-China war. It is also true that SEATO was devised by John Foster Dulles. The action taken by John Foster Dulles stemmed from the fear that the French, having been defeated in Indo-China. would move into South East Asia and take over the entire area. This was the sort of thinking that promoted the domino theory.
It is also true to say that Dulles invited India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines Governments to send representatives to meet him in Manila with the object of signing a pact for the defence of South East Asia against Chinese aggression. Let us consider what has been termed ‘Chinese aggression’. But first I want to say that the outcome of this invitation was that India, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia refused to participate in any military alliance of this nature and did not attend. Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines were represented and interested mainly duc to the fact that they already had military pacts with America and were dependent on America for support. They had therefore no other option but to be present. Pakistan of course has since lost interest in SEATO and has aligned herself with China and does not seem to be unduly worried about any so-called threats of Chinese aggression. It is also true to say that since the signing of this document neither the Philippines nor Thailand has shown any great enthusiasm about the mutter.
Spelled out, the SEATO agreement was to the effect that the signatory countries would stand together against any nation committing aggression on an individual member of SEATO. No argument can be advanced that any action of this nature took place in South Vietnam or was taken by South Vietnam. Therefore, the argument of commitment to my mind is not a very valid one. In relation to Communist aggression and what has taken place in Vietnam, different views have been expressed in America. Mr Rusk said that Eisenhower made a bi-lateral arrangement with South Vietnam but Eisenhower said that never at any time did he make any arrangements of such a nature. On the contrary,
Eisenhower said that it was wrong for America to become involved in any war in Asia because such involvement, however small, could lead only to a conflict of immense dimension and a threat to the civilised world. General MacArthur and General Gaven also were opposed to any action in Vietnam for precisely the same reasons as was Eisenhower. It is well known that in answer to questions about commitments Mr Rusk said:
The fact that America was giving civil aid to South Vietnam was sufficient commitment to wage war against the Vietcong.
Taking this further, I ask a further question. Can it be assumed that because Australia is committed to the Colombo Plan, and because Australia gives civil aid to underdeveloped countries, she is committed to send our boys to fight and die in any civil war disputes in which these countries may become involved? I ask again: to whom were these commitments made? I repeat the statement of Professor Hans Morgenthau of the University of Chicago which is as follows:
First of all, one should not overlook the fact that it was we-
That is America: who installed the first government in Saigon, the Diem Government. In other words, the State of South Vietnam is, in a sense, our own creation. For without our support the regime in Saigon could not have lasted for any length of time, in a sense, we have contracted with ourselves and I do not regard this as a valid foundation for our presence in South Vietnam.
Mr Speaker, those are precisely some of the reasons why the Australian Labor Party is opposed to what is going on in South Vietnam. I could give plenty more if I had the time to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 February (vide page 55), on motion by Mr Bowen: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is purely a technical matter arising out of the conversion from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. There are one or two Acts that were not properly adjusted. The Opposition offers no objection to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
Boonaroo’ Dispute - Words Used in Debate - Business of the House - Motor Car Insurance Claims.
Motion (by Mr Bowen) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Tonight we heard the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) enter a defence for Mr Nolan of the Seamen’s Union of Australia which developed rather more heat than light. The point I want to make is that the honourable member for Gellibrand missed the whole point of the case. He read from a long statement that purported to be a Press handout by Mr Nolan of the Seamen’s Union. What he did not do, presumably because he could not, was to enter any denial on behalf of Mr Nolan that Mr Nolan, in relation to the ‘Boonaroo’ dispute, had published the following words to the Age’ newspaper which were reported in that newspaper on 1st March this year:
We have no intention of taking the ship - -
He meant the ‘Boonaroo’ - to Point Wilson to load explosives that could be used for any purpose. We are mostly concerned that they would be used to kill women and children in the filthy war in Vietnam.
Those are Mr Nolan’s words as reported in the Press, and the honourable member for Gellibrand tonight has not denied, on behalf of Mr Nolan, that these words were used. What does this lead to? As the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) pointed out in the House the other day, those words are in direct contravention of established Labor Party policy, because they conflict with what the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who is now in the House and who I think would be the first to agree with me, said on 4th May 1965 when he was Leader of the Opposition. So Mr Nolan is at odds with the official statement made on behalf of the Parliamentary Labor Party by the honourable member for Melbourne.
Furthermore to that policy, namely the policy to support the troops in Vietnam even though the Labor Party did not agree with their presence there, was the official policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and was endorsed at a Federal Conference of the ALP in the same year, 1965. So there can be no doubt that Mr Nolan’s words were in quite direct contravention of official and established ALP policy.
What does this lead us to? Mr Nolan is a member of the Central Executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, and one presumes that even though he occupies such a lofty position, which some may think a somewhat entrenched and protected position, he is still amenable to the disciplinary processes of the party to which he belongs. If one studies the history of the Australian Labor Party one finds that some very distinguished members of it have been disciplined by the Party’s supreme body for much less heinous offences against Party rules than that which has recently been committed by Mr Nolan of the Seamen’s Union.
Let us recall the record of events. We can all take our minds back to February of last year when the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who was then Deputy Leader, was disciplined by the Federal Conference. It did not pass any sentence of penalty upon him but it rebuked him and no doubt embarrassed him, and it forced him to apologise for having spoken out against an interpretation of policy given by the Federal Executive which the then Deputy Leader thought was an unwarranted and a wrong interpretation.
Let it not be said that it is not an offence for Mr Nolan to speak out against Labor policy, because that is just what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did in February of last year, and he was charged and found guilty of an offence for having done so. There is every reason, I think, for some member of the Opposition with a little intestinal fortitude, a minimum of guts, to make a complaint to the appropriate body in the Australian Labor Party against the quite outrageous contravention of Labor policy committed recently by Mr Nolan. I would like to ask whether anybody on the Labor side of the House is going to have the guts to do it.
I see that this is beginning to hurt. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) is now trying to interject. Evidently he is a little worried. Will the honourable member for Port Adelaide have the guts to make a complaint to the Federal Executive against Mr Nolan? I can assure honourable gentlemen, and I think they would all agree with me, that Mr Nolan is a sitting duck, and if there is any sense in ALP procedures and rules he ought to be disciplined, reported and charged and dealt with according to the constitutional processes of the Party. Will the honourable member for Melbourne, who enunciated this very proper policy about servicing the supply ships to Vietnam, make a charge? He does not answer. Will the Leader of the Opposition do it? I would forgive the honourable member for Melbourne if he shrank from this painful task, because, after all, he is a member of the Central Executive of the Victorian branch of the ALP, and he may feel somewhat diffident about taking this action, because we all know how powerful the Central Executive of the ALP is, and how ruthless it is. We all know that it controls the rather important matter of endorsements for candidature for Federal seats in Victoria. So we may assume that the courage of the honourable member for Melbourne would fail him on this occasion. I suppose we can safely enough make the same assumption about the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), because we know that he is a member of the Central Executive of the Victorian branch of the ALP, and although it would be in his power to lay a charge, no doubt he will not do it because it would offend one of his friends on the Executive.
This leaves the way open for any other member of the Party on the opposite side of this House who is not a member of the Executive and who does not aspire to a seat which depends on the endorsement of the Central Executive of the Victorian branch. It leaves it open, of course, for the Leader of the Opposition himself to lay a charge. Having regard to his painful experience in the Party before attaining the leadership, he might well think that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, the gander on this occasion being Mr Nolan - we all know who was the goose on the other occasion.
What is going to happen? Will any member of the Opposition report Mr Nolan? He does not deny using these words which are a plain contravention of ALP policy. Is any member of the Opposition, including the Leader himself, going to report Mr Nolan to the Federal Executive or the Federal Conference? I hope somebody on the other side will be gracious enough to get up and inform us so that we may know whether anybody is going to take this rather necessary step of reporting Mr Nolan and setting in train disciplinary action against him. If nobody is going to do it we can only conclude that the Labor Party, having long since lost ils soul, has also lost its guts.
– There is one thing that we can absolutely guarantee. If we wanted Mr Nolan to be found guilty of anything we would merely have to ensure that he was defended by the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes). The honourable member has ventured into a field in which he is ill equipped. This is very much like his entering the Parliament itself. He is talking about affairs which are of little concern to him except for propaganda purposes. He has no knowledge and no understanding of the way in which the machinery works. My first intention was not to speak on this question, but there are several points which may have escaped the honourable member’s perception. First, there is the structure of the Australian Labor movement, its parliamentary system and all the rest of it, its Federal structure. Authority lies at various levels. I understand the Seamen’s Union makes its decision on matters such as this at the Federal level, while Mr Nolan is at the State level. As with every other activity in life, each aspect at the various levels plays its part. The Seamen’s Union is a well organised body in which the rank and file have a great deal of authority. They lay down a policy which is carried out by their leadership. This would be completely beyond the understanding of honourable members opposite, that coterie of yes-men some of whom are selected for the Cabinet and others of whom are rubber stamps who enter the Parliament hoping to get into the Cabinet - and of these the honourable member for Parkes is a shining example.
I would like to make several other points on this issue briefly. The Government, of course, has not submitted any reports on this matter to the Parliament. It has not used naval ships to transport munitions to Vietnam. It has not developed enough naval support to enable it to carry out this operation in naval vessels. The point is: what is required? I really have not studied the issue deeply, but 1 understand that the seamen simply refused to volunteer. One would think that the honourable member for Parkes would be deeply grateful for this, because it is so much in the tradition of the Liberal Party of Australia. Members of that Party have been calling for years for volunteers to go to Vietnam, but not a single one of the members of that Party who sit opposite has offered himself. So the honourable member for Parkes and all that doubtful array opposite who are in their twenties are in the same situation as the seamen. The seamen do not volunteer to man the ships for Vietman and honourable members opposite do not volunteer to man the Army in Vietnam, though they would like to conscript others, as they have attempted to conscript the trade union movement. I say to all honourable members opposite in the military age group that I have nothing but contempt for their attitude, though most of them I find very decent personally.
– That is stretching it a bit.
– As the honourable member for Grayndler points out, that is stretching it a bit. But Socialists, after all, are tolerant and understanding people. The real subject that I rose to discuss was a statement made by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) earlier today. We all know him. He has been brought up in the best jackboot tradition and he cares little for accuracy or for anything else. Especially does he care little for facts, particularly when he is discussing foreign affairs. This afternoon he said that the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) had said something at a meeting in the Australian Labor Party caucus room. In the ordinary course we do not bother to refute this kind of canard that gets about. However, in this instance it has been perpetrated by a representative of the Australian people, and I just want to demonstrate-
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. I submit that it is out of order for an honourable member to continue to discuss, in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, topics that have been the subject of a debate just closed.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)There is no substance in the point of order. Such a topic may be discussed provided that the honourable member raising it does not refer to the previous debate.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is not the ordinary rule for an honourable member to be able to assert anything in this House without fear of contradiction, for mostly one is contradicted over everything. But I assert now that the statement made by the honourable member for La Trobe had no basis whatever in fact. No incident such as he described occurred at what was, after all, a confidential gathering of members of this Parliament. In the ordinary course of events we would not care much. I suppose that in this instance what has happened really does not matter, for doubtless nobody takes much notice of what the honourable member for La Trobe says. However, the fact is that in an important debate in the National Parliament of Australia he has made an assertion that was-
-Order! The honourable member is now referring to a previous debate.
– No, I am not. The honourable member made an assertion that was not in accord with the facts. One can only presume that his attitude on this occasion was the same as that which he brings to bear in most other debates In this House.
Another matter that I want to mention this evening is the attitude of the Government to the business of this House. This morning was set down for a Grievance debate. We do not have many such occasions. They occur only on alternate Thursdays while the House is in session. In the past we have had very few Grievance debates indeed. This morning the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) had the effrontery to propose a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders and to take up thirty-five minutes, I think, of the time that should ordinarily have been available for honourable members to discuss matters of importance to their constituents. I bring this matter to the notice of the House at this early stage of the present Parliament. I point out that if we do not stick together - and this goes even for the honourable member for La Trobe and, one would think, also for the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) in this instance - in opposing this sort of treatment we shall be trampled completely into the floor. Honourable members opposite will bear the full responsibility for that if it happens, because they make up the numbers of the majority in this chamber. This again is an instance of the Government’s arrogant disregard of the rights of the members of this Parliament. There are few enough opportunities for private members to raise in Grievance debates, on General Business days and on other occasions, matters about which they and their constituents are concerned. The Minister for External Affairs this morning treated the Parliament in a cavalier fashion. The rubber stamp members who sit opposite all supported him. For this they should be duly ashamed.
- -Mr Speaker, it was not my intention to rise this evening. However, I heard the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) towards the close of his remarks say something about honourable members having to stick together. I do not know whether he was singing the ‘Eton Boating Song’ or some other refrain and I do not know that I can stick together with him on any matter, for I say frankly that I find myself in disagreement with him on most of the issues that come before this House, though outside it I find him a man full of charm with quite delightful views on some things. However, that does not matter here. He mentioned a remark made by me about what I had been informed took place within the private precincts of the Australian Labor Party Caucus room.
– He denied that such an incident had taken place.
– Yes. He denied that it had occurred, and I accept that. I can say only that when one goes into common areas such as the Parliamentary Library and King’s Hall when party meetings are taking place one often finds that some chap sidles up as if he does not want to be seen talking to one.
– I am not surprised.
– I can understand it, too. I know what happens: he gets the chopper. The person who sidles up starts spitting words out of the side of his mouth. I admit that 1 could be wrong about what was said on the occasion in question. The person concerned may have said: ‘The honourable member for Reid did not say that in the television interview the Leader of the Opposition had gone against Party policy’. I do not know whether that was what was said, but those seemed to be the words that were coming out of my informant’s mouth amidst all the hissing and spitting. I may be wrong also in saying that I was told, as I thought, that in the Party room the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) had said to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam): ‘You are a dud’. What was said may have been: ‘You are a mug’.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member watch his language.
– I am sorry, Sir. I am trying to clarify what could have happened. If I have offended Opposition members, I humbly apologise. I am sorry. I do not like to listen to these statements that come out of the sides of people’s mouths. I only wish these things would not happen, but they do. I would like to deal briefly with another matter. The honourable member for Wills talked about my being raised in a jackboot tradition. I do not know about that. I thought that my father used to vote for Labor, but I am not sure.
-Order! There is too much noise. I ask the House to come to order.
– Thank you, Sir. I know that my father was raised as a barefoot lad in the electorate of the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton), as the honourable member well knows. My father went into the Army and became a soldier. He subsequently fought against those whom I thought were the jackbooters, quite successfully. If this makes him a jackbooter, I have to bear the sin of being reared by him in the jackboot tradition. I cannot understand the claim made by the honourable member for Wills. Yesterday we had in this chamber a little contretemps which I think was handled most expeditiously. There was raised the question of whether a remark that was permissible when made about a party as a group was in order when made about a member personally, and the ruling of the Chair was that if the remark made about a person were considered offensive objection could be taken. I thought at the time that if I described one honourable member as a Christian and loving gentleman he could object under the terms of that ruling. However, I accept it. Honourable members opposite can claim that we on this side of the chamber are Nazis, jackbooters Fascists or anything else. We accept that they can do this and we do not rise in our places and make great complaints about it.
I now take up the point that the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) has made. We have tonight a situation in which a very respectable and, I find, a very delightful member of the Australian Labor Party, with whom I travelled to Mexico and about whom I speak sincerely, has attacked a former member of the Labor Party who was expelled because he wished to strengthen the defences of this country by joining an organisation which, I think I should say in fairness, attacked not only the policy of the Labor Party, perhaps, but also the policy of the Liberal Party of Australia. That honourable member was attacked because he stated clearly what he believed the Seamen’s Union of Australia and the man Nolan were doing. I would have thought that it would be good tactics for the Labor Party to have let this go. But an Opposition member read to us a letter or explanatory paper of about four pages putting the view of Mr Nolan of the Seamen’s Union, which, I think, is admitted by most to be a Communist dominated union.
We in this House have waited for the Leader of the Opposition to say something on this issue. I presume that he carries on the policy expounded by the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who was formerly Leader of the Opposition. That policy affirms that support will be given to the troops in the field in Vietnam and states that the Labor Party, although it does not agree with the Government’s policy on the war in Vietnam, will do nothing to harm or hinder our men who are righting there. But as yet we have heard not one word from the present Leader of the Opposition. We have heard, however, from Mr Monk, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, whom I admire greatly and who, I believe, has stated on behalf of the legitimate and well meaning unions their feelings about what the Seamen’s Union is endeavouring to do in the dispute over the ‘Boonaroo’ and the ‘Jeparit’. But from the Labor Party comes nothing. I wonder what the late Mr Chifley or the late Mr Curtin would have done. In similar circumstances when this happened and when Australian troops were at war, they came out and made clear statements. They took decisive action. What has happened to the Labor Party? Where is it going? When can we expect the Leader of the Opposition to state clearly where the Labor Party stands in respect of this issue. As to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), I should like in the time remaining to assure him of my goodwill, to assure him that I shall try not to be a jackbooter, and to tell him that if 1 am a jackbooter he is the same as I am.
– The only reference that I want to make to the remarks of the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) is to his words when he paid tribute to the late Mr Curtin and the late Mr Chifley. It is amazing that while they lived, the Liberal Party, including some honourable members who sit opposite, condemned them as pro-Communists and said they were opposed to everything that was decent in this country. Mr Allan Fraser said in an article recently that the only good Labour people according to the honourable gentlemen opposite are those who have died. Rarely did I hear any words of praise for these great Australians while they lived. They were always condemned by the enemies of the Australian Labor Party as Communists or pro-Communists when they stood up for the things the people wanted. Consequently, tonight this belated death-bed confession by the honorable member about the great attributes of those men does not register very well with me.
I do not know this Eliot V. Elliott personally and he is no friend of mine - no member of the Communist Party is - but when I hear honourable members opposite criticising honourable members on this side of the chamber for being affiliated with or supporting the Communist Party I recall that in this very Parliament House the former Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman), sat and entertained Eliot V. Elliott at dinner. They were calling each other Eliot’ and ‘Oppy’ over a couple of chops or some oysters. But he is one of the people whom honourable members opposite have tried to criticise tonight. Why, the dinner was paid for with Government money as Eliot and Oppy sat down and nodded to each other. Tonight we hear the Seamen’s Union of Australia being criticised. Honourable members opposite change their friends likethey change their suits. If they can sit down with Communists within the precincts of this Parliament and Liberal members and Ministers can join with them over a convivial wine or cocktail as the case may be, why do they suddenly change and say that members of the Labor Party are the only people who do this sort of thing? The simple fact is that when it suits them they are hand in glove with the Communist Party. I could produce records which show that the Liberal Party has given preferences to Communists rather than to returned soldiers on this side of the House in Senate and other elections. If any honourable member denies that I will produce evidence in the Parliament tomorrow morning; I do not have it available at the moment.
The honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) might be all right in the courts, but he is all at sea when he joins the Navy. Let us consider the remarks be made tonight when he mentioned what the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr McIvor) had said. But first I would like to say something about our Navy ships. If this is the Navy which is defending Australia and if this is the Government which says it has the equipment necessary to defend Australia against other nations which might attack us, why has not the Navy its own supply ships? Why do we have to go to the ‘Boonaroo’ or to other ships in order to send supplies to servicemen in Vietnam? It is for the very simple season that the Government has left this country illequipped for war and knows that today the Navy cannot transport the necessary material with its own ships because of its own incompetence and its failure to provide the ships which are necessary to defend our country. And this is at a time when our nation is not at war.
A person cannot volunteer to go to Vietnam, and yet honourable members opposite expect seamen to place their lives in jeopardy in order to take munitions to the war zone. What does the honourable member for Parkes say about this? Why has not the Navy its own supply ships? The honourable member for Gellibrand said tonight that ships which are lying idle in Sydney Harbour at the moment could well carry these supplies. Why does not the Navy commission them? It is an indictment of the Government’s policy that it docs not have the Navy personnel or ships to carry this equipment instead of having to go to the ‘Boonaroo’ and other ships. It is because of the Government’s incompetence and failure to provide adequate naval defence for Australia that this situation has occurred. I do not believe that (he ‘Boonaroo’ and other ships should ever have been called upon to take this equipment to Vietnam. It should have been done by Navy ships right from the beginning. The fact that they are not available is something for which this Government is responsible and for which ail honourable members opposite are answerable. If this had happened under a Labor administration and we had not had ships available, honourable members opposite would have been up in arms demanding to know why we were not defending the country properly.
I do not know this man Nolan who has been mentioned in the debate. I would not know him if I fell over him. But when I hear honourable members opposite criticising the Labor Party for its attitude on these issues, I think they could well examine their own consciences. I wonder what they would say if members of the Seamen’s Union refused to carry the wheat and wool which the Government is selling to the Communists in China, to those people who are shooting down our boys in Vietnam. I wonder how it is that the honourable member for Parkes and others can sit in their places in this Parliament and condone the selling of wool and wheat to people who they say are shooting down our boys in Vietnam, and the same time condemn Australian seamen and others who cannot volunteer to go to Vietnam any more than any other person in Australia can volunteer to go there.
Does the honourable member for Parkes agree to the sale of wool and wheal to China? Does he think that China is the greatest menace to Australia today? Doe3 he think that Red China is the greatest’ menace to this nation as the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) does? If he does think this, why does he condone the selling of wheat and wool to these people at a time when our servicemen are involved in conflict with them? Of course the honourable member is silent; he and his friends are vulnerable on this point, for the 3imp’.e reason that they are hypocritical. They know that members of the other party in the coalition prefer to have the gold and they arc prepared to support it. Members of the Country Party would not allow them to criticise Red China because they know of the gold that flows into the coffers. I am referring particularly to the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong), the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) and those other wealthy city supporters. They who sit in the corner love the Red gold. Although they sit over there and criticise us. they dare not say anything in the Party room because the Red gold flows into the Riverina, it flows into Gwydir and Lawson. The members of the Country Party sit there smiling benignly whilst men die in Vietnam, and they continue to take the gold from the people who they say are shooting down our men. To their eternal disgrace, they trade with the enemy. They send boys to die in Vietnam when they have no say in the situation. They condemn seamen for not doing the job that the Navy ought to be doing with its own ships. In every way their attitude is politically inclined, at all times putting gold before the welfare of the people of this country.
I suggest to the honourable member for Parkes that he should stick to the courts as he will earn good money there. As honourable members can see, he is not going far in this place. Honourable members opposite do not even have to win a ballot to get into the Ministry; the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) picks them. I congratulate the Prime Minister on not picking the honourable member for Parkes, for the simple reason that not only could he not win a ballot but he could not get in if the Prime Minister did pick him. I suggest that the honourable member should not sit alongside the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) as he gets bigger fees in the courts than the honourable member for Parkes. I believe that the Prime Minister chooses those to go into the Ministry on the basis of who gets the biggest fees. That can be seen from his choice of Attorney-General.
I had not intended to intervene in this debate. However, I remind the Government that the Navy cannot provide its own ships to take equipment to the boys who are dying in Vietnam. Yet the Government wants seamen to take wool and wheat to Red China so that the Country Party can get the gold that comes to them in their electorates. When honourable members opposite criticise the Labor Party, the great democrats and others who believe in justice, let them stand up in this Parliament and say at the same time as they condemn Australian seamen that they do not believe in trading with the enemy. If they are in any trouble about Eliot V. Elliott I suggest that they see OPPY he is on personal terms with him.
– -It is sheer coincidence that 1 am speaking immediately after the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), but it docs give me the opportunity to refer to the incident in the Parliamentary Dining Room that he mentioned. On that occasion I was entertaining an official party from the Marine Council. I can recollect saying at the time that the honourable member for Grayndler would be the only honourable member who would not have had the courtesy or good manners to invite all members of the Marine Council to that luncheon. I can remember that when we were sitting around the tabic Mr E. V. Elliott preferred red wine to white wine. I can also recollect the honourable member for Grayndler coming into the dining room and my saying to my colleague the Minister sitting at the table (Mr Howson): ‘Do you notice how enviously Freddy Daly is looking at this party? 1 am sure he would like to be here with us*. I also said: ‘I guarantee that this will be used as a whip and that he will refer to Elliott being here’. Anyhow, as honourable members saw, it was treated humorously by him tonight. It happened in the past, and if it were necessary for me to do the same thing tomorrow, were I Minister for Transport, I would have the same luncheon party.
I regret keeping the House, but I feel 1 should ventilate something that has come to my personal attention. It is a subject in which every member, practically every one of whom is a motorist, should be interested. Firstly, I ask honourable members not !o deprecate the subject simply because it concerns me directly, but to accept it with the outlook that the complaint has all the more strength because its authenticity can be vouched for by me and because, in the words of the safety slogan: ‘It Could Be You’. The subject matter relates to car insurance and the interpretation of claims by certain companies. I must confess that I have been somewhat negligent in the past when I have heard complaints about this particular reaction to accident claims and I have not taken those complaints as seriously as I might have done. However as I had received no direct request to take action I did not do so. I realised just how valid those allegations of unfair and unjust practice were when I was personally involved.
Some weeks ago my son, who is almost twenty-one years of age, drove my car to Torquay. He parked it in front of a cafe and went inside. Another motorist, making a U turn on a wide area of road - probably double the normal turning space - was quite negligent in his driving and crashed into the rear of my stationary car. A policeman arrived and confirmed that my car was parked correctly. The other motorist admitted negligence and gave the name of his insurance company. I asked my son to submit a claim to the local branch of (he Royal Automobile Club of Victoria but he was informed that the claim should be made by myself against the other insurance company. I telephoned the Melbourne office of the Club Insurance Company - my company - and gave details of the accident. A female voice informed me that I should send my account, when the work was completed, to the other insurance company. I replied that I always understood that the company with which I was insured attended to those details and asked why the new formula was being adopted. ‘Well, we may not get paid our money’ was the reply. ‘But’, I protested, ‘what is my position if the company does not pay me?’ ‘Well’, I was told, ‘you could then put it in the hands of your solicitor.’
After emphasising that I felt I had not taken out insurance to be treated on this basis, and some stressing of the fact that this was an open and shut case, I was informed: ‘Well, I expect we will get paid under those circumstances’. I received a grudging consent to my forwarding a claim. This I did and accordingly the damage was assessed at $220. But when the work was completed the settlement was for $220 less $50 for me to pay because my lad, who was not in the car - nor was anyone else - was under twenty-five years of age. I am not resisting the principle of curbing the speed and carelessness of the under twentyfive group by some sort of monetary restraint. Statistics show that the greatest percentage of accidents occur to drivers under this age, and when my son was involved in a previous insurance claim 1 met the $50 without protest. However, to impose this charge when the driver is not in the car and there is no evidence of negligence gives to my mind every evidence of sharp practice - the sharpest of sharp practice - for surely the $50 loading was intended to be applied to a situation where the youthfulness of the driver could be regarded as having contributed to the accident. Right throughout the entire incident there has been evidence of a desire to evade the responsibility that a large and established motoring organisation should accept. Motor insurance is an important protection for the motorist and it is most disturbing to find that the cover for which one pays is subject to such arbitrary and inequitable treatment.
I am aware that motor insurance companies are under heavy demands but if so it is up to them to make their rates commensurate with fair and honest dealing and to give the customer the cover that he assumes he will obtain when his proposal is accepted. I am not concerned with the monetary loss to myself, hut I think of the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people who would be financially distressed if this type of reasoning were applied to their claims.
One honourable member asks me about my no claim bonus. I have not been concerned with this up to the present stage, but that has probably gone down the drain. My colleague, the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), has informed me that he knows of a case where a lad under twenty-five years of age placed his mother’s car in a parking lot. The rear wheels were stolen. Fifty dollars was deducted from the insurance claim because of his age. Another case brought to my attention concerned a lad who drove his father’s car into the driveway of their house. It was stolen but was subsequently recovered in a damaged condition. Again $50 was deducted from the claim. What difference does age make in such cases? Age has no relevance. From the United Kingdom have come recent reports of motor insurance companies defaulting in payments. The incidents I have mentioned represent, to a lesser degree, the same type of evasion. When this dogmatic and blatent imposition is revealed, those concerned should not be surprised when voices are raised against this unjust no blame no claim formula. There should be a complete overhaul of a system of insurance that is developing the tendencies I have outlined this evening.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Travel Concessions for Pensioners (Question No. 22) Mr Webb asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Will he at the next meeting of State Ministers for Railways raise the question of interstate travel concessions to pensioners travelling by train?
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Can he say when the railway line between Cockburn and Broken Hill will be standardised and if the legal difficulties have been overcome?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Present planning is for completion of standardisation of the small section of line between Cockburn and Broken Hill by December 1968.
It will be appreciated that the section of line in question lies within New South Wales, and that the South Australian Government is interested in traffic over it. Consultations with the New South Wales and South Australian Governments on legal and other aspects are still taking place and will be brought to completion as rapidly as possible.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
There is no international law, nor any agreement or treaty at present in force, relating specifically to the placing in orbit of space vehicles containing bacteria, plant or insect life. There is, however a proposed Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and other Celestial Bodies’, drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations and opened for signature and ratification on 27 January 1967. The Treaty was signed on that date by Australia, together with a large number of other States. The Treaty, which will come into effect upon ratification by five States including the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R. (which have all signed the Treaty), provides, among other things, that:
In addition to such measures as are proposed to be laid down in the Treaty, appropriate action would be taken by the responsible Government Departments. If by accident a spacecraft landed in Australia (and the Government would not be able to prevent such an eventuality), it would be guarded until examined by quarantine and other Australian authorities. The matter is being kept under study.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows
Details of measures adopted by other countries in relation to their fishing zones have often proved difficult to confirm - even with the countries concerned, but according to the best information available to my department the countries named in the lists: hereunder have claimed jurisdiction over fishing activities out to the limits indicated. List A sets out claims to specific fishing limits beyond three miles and list B sets out claims to territorial seas (and therefore jurisdiction over fishing activities) beyond three miles. The dale of the claim is also shown where this information is available.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows*
Higher fees are usually charged for ‘out-of-hours’ consultations and visits. 2. (a) The fund benefit payable for a general practitioner consultation or visit varies according to the table of benefit to which the patient contributes. The fund benefit payable under the most popular table in each State is: respect of both surgery consultations and home visits is 80c in all States.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
To enquire into and advise Council through the Public Health Advisory Committee on matters relating to the infection, use, husbandry and control of animals and animal products, which may directly or indirectly affect human health.’
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 March 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670309_reps_26_hor54/>.