23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Address-in-Reply: Presentation to the Administrator.
– I desire to inform the Senate that on Thursday, 23rd March, accompanied by honorable senators 1 waited on the Administrator and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech on the occasion of the opening of the third session of the Twentythird Parliament. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply: - Mr. President,
Thank you for your Address-in-Reply which you have just presented to me. It will afford me much pleasure to convey to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen the Message of Loyalty from the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia to which the Address gives expression.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Does he agree with the statement of the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, reported in the “ Age “ of to-day, that while a soundly-constructed and well-managed reserve price plan for the wool industry would be worth while, there was also a need for vigorous promotion by all the advertising devices known to the commercial world? If so, is the Minister satisfied with the progress to date of efforts to obtain growers’ agreement to proposals for obtaining more funds for promotion? Will the Government make decisions itself if the growers fail to agree? Does the Minister feel that we need fewer professional stunts and less of the cocktail-party mannequindisplay type of promotion and more down to earth promotion to convince the average housewife who does the purchasing of the superior qualities of wool?
– Mr. President, I do agree with the statement attributed to the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, as quoted by the honorable senator. 1 have not seen the statement, but I agree with him i.ia. an inquiry into the wool marketing of this country could well eventuate in a reserve price plan being adopted. I qualify that by saying: Only after the fullest inquiry. I believe, too, that promotion can play a valuable part in the development of the industry, and that the end result can only be good. But I do not believe, as Senator McManus implies, that promotion on its own is the solution to our problems. The honorable senator also asks whether it was the intention of the Government to take arbitrary action to see that funds were made available for additional promotion. In reply to that specific question, I would point out to him that this Government has always - and I believe rightly, Sir - maintained that those are matters on which the growers should have the final say; and 1 am quite sure that although the Government, as it believes in promotion, might endeavour to convince growers of the value of additional promotion, no action will be taken in an arbitrary fashion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Further to a question I asked the Minister on 8th March, 1961, in respect of Mr. Albert Monk’s realistic and sensible views on unemployment, as expressed a* the Australian Citizenship Convention, I now ask whether the Minister is in a position to add to what he had to say at that time.
– All I can add to the answer that I gave to the honorable senator previously is that I have had a look at the transcript of the proceedings of the Citizenship Convention and it is apparently true that Mr. Monk made a statement there which is generally accepted by all people as being accurate. The transient working population of Australia - those engaged in the picking of various crops, the cutting of sugar cane and things of that kind - accounts normally for the 1.5 per cent, of our work force which is unemployed. That percentage represents about 63,000 people. That does not mean that always the same 63,000 persons are unemployed. The percentage is made up of people who move from sugar cane cutting to orange picking, pea picking or whatever it may be. Consequently, it would appear that until the degree of unemployment is considerably greater than that cited by Mr. Monk there is no ground whatever for complaining of unemployment in this country.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Having regard to the very depressed state of the home-building industry throughout Australia at the present time, brought about largely by the Government’s sudden imposition of a credit squeeze on the people, causing increased unemployment throughout the country, can the Minister give an assurance that credit restrictions affecting this most important industry will be relaxed in the near future?
– Opinions differ about the state of the home-building industry. To my knowledge, responsible leaders of the industry in both Sydney and Melbourne have said publicly that the decline in activity which has occurred since November last is a good thing in that it has caused basic materials to be more readily in supply and has reduced building costs and unduly high land values. Those opinions have been expressed within the building industry itself. The Government’s view is that home building has declined to a greater extent than is desirable, and the Government has taken what it believes to be appropriate steps to see that funds will be made available to increase the rate of home building. Those actions will not take effect immediately. It will take a month or so for the extra money to come into circulation and be put tq work.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will he say whether the Government is satisfied with the progress being made by the committee set up to inquire into the problems facing the wool industry? Is there any evidence of delaying tactics being employed by interested parties? Can the Minister say when the committee will be in a position to present its report to the Government?
– The Government is satisfied with the progress being made by the committee which was set up to inquire into all aspects of the wool industry, with emphasis on marketing. A mass of very valuable evidence has been taken in New South Wales. 1 understand that the committee is now sitting in Victoria and that later it will continue its inquiries in Queensland and other States. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence of delaying tactics by any interested parties. I am sure that the committee is so seised with the importance of its work that no such tactics would be permitted. I think that the committee’s record of achievements, even at this early stage, indicates that it is making very marked progress. I am not in a position to say when its report will be presented to the Government, but I assure honorable senators that the Government would like to have that report as soon as practicable, having regard to the possible long-term effects on our greatest primary industry of implementing any of the decisions or recommendations contained in the report. For that reason the committee must make the closest and most thorough examination possible of all the problems confronting the industry.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the sale of wheat on credit to Communist China, or mainland China as we are pleased to call it. Is the Minister aware that, according to a press report. Sir John Teasdale has stated that a decision has been sought from the Government in relation to the supply of wheat to Communist China on a credit basis, but that he has been informed that no decision will be given until the position in Laos has been clarified? Is it to be inferred from Sir John Teasdale’s statement that wheat supplied by Australia to Communist China will be used in devious ways to support Communist activities in Laos, or will be used outside China for political purposes?
– I draw the inference from Senator Cooke’s question that he is concerned lest wheat exported from Australia may be of some political advantage to the Communists. On that point the
Government and all honorable senators on this side of the chamber join with Senator Cooke very enthusiastically. I have not seen the press report of the statement attributed to Sir John Teasdale in which he is purported to have said that certain recommendations for the sale of wheat on terms to red China are now before the Government. All I can do is repeat what I said yesterday. The Australian Wheat Board is the properly constituted body to sell (wheat on behalf of the Australian wheat-grower, and the Government takes no part in the transactions while they are conducted on commercial terms. I repeat that any deviation from that policy by the Australian Wheat Board would excite the interest of the Government, which is determined to watch the interests of the Australian economy and the Australian wheatgrower.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Further to questions asked by me during the last sessional period, and to the Minister’s reply to me by letter during the recess, in regard to the possible extension of our exports of woollen textiles to the United States of America and Canada, has the Minister yet received a report from his Chicago office indicating the results of the recent shipment of samples of woollen worsteds to that office for showing on the American market? Bearing in mind that Mr. Ezra Benson, the former United States Secretary of Agriculture, visited Australia last year and stated that it was his intention to discuss with President Eisenhower the possibility of a reduction in the tariff on Australian wool, and bearing in mind also the recent statement by Sir William Gunn that wool consumption in the United States has dropped by 30 per cent, in ten years, has the Minister anything further to report on this vital matter?
– I know the great interest that Senator Pearson takes in this matter. I have been in correspondence with him during the recent recess, and have conveyed to him the information that I obtained from my colleague, Mr. McEwen, the Minister for Trade. I have had no further progress reports upon the result of the experiment - if that is the right word to use - in Chicago, or upon the result of the representations that were made to the American Administration. I promise Senator Pearson that I shall have a word with the Minister for Trade, about the matter to ascertain whether there is more recent information than that which I have already made available.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Having regard to the fact that the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, in which it was recommended that extra powers be given to the Commonwealth Parliament to enable it to deal with matters over which it now has no constitutional power, was submitted to the Government in 1959, can the Minister assure the Senate that the extra powers recommended by the committee will be sought by the Government by way of a referendum to be held in conjunction with the next federal election, or at a very early date?
– I regret to say that my authority does not extend to the point of giving the honorable senator the assurance he requests.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions: Can he inform the Senate, whether the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, which has been sitting for many months, has yet completed its report? If the committee has completed its report, when is it likely to be presented to the Parliament?
– I do not know what stage has been reached by the committee in its deliberations or in the preparation of its report. I will find out and let the honorable senator know.
– I address to the Minister representing the Attorney-General a question which relates to the Eichmann trial which has been commenced in Israel. In view of the very high degree of international importance that is attached to this trial, is the Australian Government represented by an accredited observer?
– Australia’s accredited representative in Israel is Mr. McMillan. I understand that members of the Diplomatic Corps in Israel will be afforded opportunities to be present at the trial.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he will be good enough to analyse the following report which appeared in “ Muster “ of 5th April, 1961: -
Sir John Teasdale went on to say that before any decision could be reached .on ‘China’s request for credit, full consideration would have to be given to the factors involved.
Sir John also said that the Wheat Board, as a matter of necessity, would have to look at the request for credit from a commercial angle.
Furthermore, credit sales to overseas countries involved national interest. Consequently the Board always adopted the practice of referring the matter to the appropriate Federal Minister before entering into any contract
Furthermore, it is highly probable that the Government will not define its principles until the situation in Laos is clarified.
I ask the Minister to convey that report to his senior Ministers and ascertain whether the press ‘has correctly reported Sir John Teasdale. I ask him whether he has yet to learn whether this matter has been submitted “to those Ministers and whether in fact it has been submitted to them.
– I welcome Senator Cooke’s enthusiastic support for the points he has made in his question. I readily agree that “ Muster “ is a most authoritative journal and that it plays a very important part in the activities of our primary industries. But the fact remains - I repeat it for the third or fourth time this week - that the Australian Wheat Board is the sole properly constituted authority to sell Australian wheat and that when wheat is sold on commercial terms the Government takes no part whatever in the sales. I think it is fair to say that so far all the wheat that has -been sold by the Australian Wheat Board has been sold on commercial terms. Whether the terms referred to by Senator Cooke can be classified as other than commercial terms I have yet to learn, but I have no doubt that if his reference was to .sales not on commercial terms the appropriate Minister will be informed and the matter will be taken to the Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that negotiations are now taking place between the Japanese Government and the Australian Government in relation to pearling rights in Australian waters? Can the Minister inform me of the tonnage that is proposed to be allowed to Japanese fishing interests? ‘Will consideration be given, in the allocation of quotas, to the fact that Australian pearling interests have had to cut their .take this year by almost half of what they fished last year?
– Knowing Senator Scott’s .more than passing interest in the pearling industry, I think his purpose could best be served by placing the question on notice for the personal attention of the Minister for Primary -Industry.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has provided the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
Metropolitan . . 2,537
Country . . 1,143
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Common Market Six and make them more prosperous, bearing in mind the fact that Australia had ; adverse trade balances with these two countries during 1960?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information: -
The two aluminium public telephone cabinets at Adelaide and Port Augusta in South Australia are part of an Australia-wide field trial of this experimental design. Two of these cabinets, one using anodized aluminium and the other ‘lacquered aluminium, have been installed in each State in locations selected to cover the widest possible range of atmospheric and climatic conditions. The .main purpose of the trial is to establish whether the aluminium construction will reduce the heavy maintenance cost of public telephone cabinets by eliminating the need for frequent repainting. The trial will also allow the relative comfort of the experimental and standard type cabinets to be compared under a variety of conditions. The high temperatures experienced this summer have given the test cabi- nets an excellent hot-weather trial and all reports indicate that the new design is noticeably cooler than most of the older type cabinets. This result has been achieved by carefully designed ventilation and a specially hinged door which remains partly open to provide increased air circulation when the cabinet is unoccupied. Apart from any cabinets which may be added to the group to test design modifications, it is unlikely that any more of these experimental cabinets will be installed before next summer, because the test period must cover at least a full year’s cycle of conditions to yield reliable results. Some modifications to the design will undoubtedly be necessary to suit large-scale production and possibly to correct any minor defects which, may be revealed by the trial. Although there is no definite proposal to purchase large quantities of the experimental design at this stage, these cabinets will be introduced generally if the current trial shows that they are more comfortable to the user under both summer and winter conditions, and are more economical than the current standard wooden cabinets.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table the reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Artificial flowers, fruits, plants, leaves and grains.
Hand saws and saw blades, &c.
Maize and maize grits; and
Wristlet watch cases and movements.
I also lay on the table two other reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Photographic exposure meters, and
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
These reports do not call for any legislative action. The board’s findings have in both instances been adopted by the Government.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Overseas Visit 1961 - Statement by the Prime Minister dated 11th April, 1961.
This is a statement made last night by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) relating to his visit overseas earlier this year. As honorable senators have already received copies of the statement, I do not wish to read it to the Senate. With the concurrence of honorable senators, it will be incorporated in “ Hansard “. It is as follows: -
What I am about to say will cover some of the more important matters with which I was concerned during my recent overseas journey. On my way to London I had the advantage of meeting both President Kennedy and the new Secre tary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk, in Washington. Our conversations were quite extensive,, but of course private. But it is, I think, proper to say that the new President has a most alert interest in Australia and its problems. In particular, we discussed the problems of Seato and Laos, and relations between the democratic world and the Communist powers. I told him about our policies and activities in Papua and New Guinea and about the position of West New Guinea. I naturally seized the opportunity thus presented of making a comprehensive series of remarks along lines which are familiar to members of this House.
I hope it will not be thought an impertinence, Sir, if I say that nobody can fail to be impressed by the liveliness of mind, vigour of approach, energy and desire for results, and forceful personality of the new President. The atmosphere of our meeting was warm, friendly, and helpful. My clear belief is that Mr. Kennedy will not rush to conclusions, that he will be at pains to ascertain the facts, and that when he decides the decision will be his. I subsequently saw a good deal of Mr. Rusk in Bangkok, where, with our other colleagues, we worked in close consultation with most fruitful results. In my opinion, Australia can regard the new Secretary of State as a very able thinker and negotiator, and as a good friend to us.
I then proceeded to the Prime Ministers Conference in London. All of the Prime Ministers who attended that conference have now returned to their home lands, and most, if not all of them, have given their account of what went on. The Prime Minister of New Zealand and I are later, for we both attended the Seato meeting in Bangkok. It is now my right, and, more importantly, my duty, to make my report in the Australian Parliament, at the earliest opportunity after my return.
What I have to say will fall into three parts. I will first say something about the disarmament sections of our London communique, a document which I propose formally to table for the information of honorable members. I will then speak of the events concerning the imminent departure of South Africa from the Commonwealth; an event of great historic importance, on which 1 will speak quite frankly but, I believe, with moderation. Finally, I will briefly discuss the meeting of the Seato Council of Ministers, a meeting largely concerned with the current situation in Laos, and the attempts now being made to secure a fair and peaceful settlement.
Turning to disarmament, there are several comments which I would like to make upon the statement of principles to which we agreed and which appear in the annex to the communique. But before I do so, let me say that this overshadowing problem of disarmament is of crucial and urgent importance. It touches the hearts and minds of all men and women. We therefore devoted great attention to it. Against this background, these are my comments:
First, disarmament resolutions can give rise to false hopes unless they are immediately accompanied by action, with concurrent effective inspect tion and control.
Second, nuclear, and what we are pleased to call conventional armaments must be dealt with simultaneously so that at no stage will any country or group of countries obtain a significant military advantage.
Third, expert consultations must take place during the currency of political negotiations for a treaty - and I emphasize, concurrently - and should be, in their main aspects, concluded before any general treaty. To make general declarations about disarmament at a time when the techniques of inspection and check had not been worked out or agreed upon would be very dangerous. The Communist powers would retain full control of their own forces, while in democratic countries recruiting would tend to disappear, and the public support for defence expenditure would, on the general promise of disarmament, tend to weaken. There would, I imagine, be great practical difficulties in securing, by inspection, the abolition of small arms and other conventional weapons in a vast country with authoritarian control over the movements of people and the reporting of news. Such difficulties must be provided for as part of a treaty, and not left to subsequent negotiation.
Fourth, we must consider with care the implications of the clause in the communique - All national armed forces and armaments must be reduced to the levels agreed to be necessary for internal security. Some nations may claim that, having regard to their population, territory, and social circumstances, comparatively large “ forces and armaments “ are needed for internal security. Others may need very little. Yet armed strength is relative, not absolute. The threat of war may well continue on a reduced level of armaments, unless those armaments, at that reduced level, provide a reasonable balance which will discourage aggression.
Fifth, assuming as I do that the processes of negotiation, in the full sense that I have described, will be lengthy and obviously difficult, I would wish to see a start made with one matter which, if it could be solved, would do much to create a new and hopeful atmosphere. I refer to the proposed ban upon further nuclear tests. The nuclear powers have already made some progress in this field. There is no reason why, with goodwill and good human sense, success should not be achieved. With nuclear weapons confined, as they are to-day, to the control of a few powers, the danger of nuclear war is reduced. Should more and more nations come into the field, the dangers of irresponsible use would be materially increased.
There are many other aspects of this vast problem which deserve the consideration of this Parliament. All r have tried to do at this stage, and in a brief compass, is to indicate a few matters of what I believe to be of singular importance.
On the question of South Africa and the Commonwealth I am indeed sorry that I cannot be as brief as I would wish. During the proceedings in London there appeared every day, in some newspapers, so-called reports of our deliberations which were so false as to be absurd; some of them no doubt found their way to Australia and may have affected many minds. It is therefore necessary, while not attributing particular views to particular Prime Ministers, to put the record straight.
South Africa, having decided to become a republic, formally applied for permission to remain a member of the Commonwealth - not to be admitted to the Commonwealth, but to remain a member of the Commonwealth. On the precedents already established in the cases of India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Ghana, there could be no technical ground for refusal. But some, not all, of the Prime Ministers indicated that, as Dr. Verwoerd had already indicated his willingness on this occasion to engage, under a later item, in a full discussion of South Africa’s racial policies, they would prefer the question of continued membership and the question of racial policy to be discussed together. This - though Dr. Verwoerd clearly desired that the question of continued membership should be first determined - was accordingly done. The debate was full, it was frank, it was courteous.
However wrong we thought his policies, nobody at the London conference could or did challenge Dr. Verwoerd’s own sincerity.
I pause here to say that this debate having occurred, and there being now no secret about the opinions expressed by others, I feel relieved of my previous inhibitions about public statements, and will therefore, before I conclude, state my own condemnation of apartheid, and my reasons categorically.
At the end of this discussion in the conference, a communiqué was drafted, after considerable debate about its terms, and after various suggestions and amendments. T took an active part in the drafting. The broad nature of the draft was that we first set out that we saw no technical constitutional ground for refusing the application, but that we had debated, with Dr. Verwoerd’s consent on this occasion, the matter of racial policy. We then went on to summarize the criticisms that had been made, and the nature of the replies made by Dr. Verwoerd. We then concluded that, notwithstanding those replies, we adhered to our criticisms.
There were things about the draft which Dr. Verwoerd did not like. He availed himself of an adjournment to consider whether he could accept it, the whole idea in the Prime Ministers’ Conference being that the communique^ is a unanimous document.
I can say for myself that I believed that if Dr. Verwoerd could accept the draft which we had thrashed out, the issue of membership would be decided in his favour. Indeed, I thought this was the reason for the adjournment. After studying the draft, Dr. Verwoerd saw Mr. Macmillan, and said that, with some possible verbal and minor amendments, he would accept the draft, thus making it a unanimous record. On our resumption, Mr. Macmillan announced this with, I thought, some natural satisfaction. I say quite confidently that both he and I thought everything was clear; that the effect of agreement upon the communique would be that South Africa stayed in.
It was at this closing stage that several of the Prime Ministers disclosed a final line of attack. Two wanted the communiqué to conclude with a declaration that South Africa’s policies were incompatible with membership of the Commonwealth. That seemed plain enough.
Another agreed, and added that he reserved the right to move for expulsion, or to withdraw his own country. Another stated quite frankly that he would attack South Africa’s policies and membership at every possible opportunity. I need not elaborate. There could be no mistake about the intensity and sincerity of the views stated. As the discussions proceeded, it became clear to me that, unless South Africa changed its policies, a considerable section of the Prime Ministers wanted South Africa out. Speaking for myself, I wanted it in, for the reasons which I will state a little later.
Once more Dr. Verwoerd withdrew to consider his position. On his return he said he felt he had no option but to withdraw his application. He made a few pointed comments on policies in some other countries, but he accepted the inevitable. Technically, Dr. Verwoerd withdrew. But in substance he had to withdraw unless he was prepared to depart from policies which however criticized are the settled doctrine of his own Government.
In a section of the Australian press a great effort is being made to show that on these matters I am at loggerheads with Mr. Macmillan, and that it follows that I must be wrong. This is indeed a curious attitude for Australians, but I will devote a few minutes to dealing with it. I have now studied very carefully the “ Hansard “ record of Mr. Macmillan’s speech in the House of Commons on March 22nd, in order to ascertain what differences of views there may be. I have said that South Africa was, in substance, put out. Mr. Macmillan said - “ There was no question of the expulsion of South Africa, for it became apparent to Dr. Verwoerd himself that he could not serve the Commonwealth or help its unity and coherence in any other way except by withdrawing his application.”
I have, myself, stated the facts in their sequence, and what I regard as the inevitability of Dr. Verwoerd’s withdrawal. The House will make up its own mind as to whether there is here a difference worth prolonged debate. Indeed, I note that in a speech by Lord Home, recently circulated by the United Kingdom Information Service, he said, “ This week a foundation member of the Commonwealth had to leave the Commonwealth “.
Again, Mr. Macmillan said - “ There are some who think that the Commonwealth will be gravely and even fatally injured by this blow. I do not altogether share this view. I do not share it at all.”
This is not a difference about the facts: it is a difference of personal opinion as to the consequences of the facts. I deeply respect Mr. Macmillan’s opinion, and I most sincerely hope that it turns out to be right. But, discarding the word “ fatally “, which is not mine, I retain my right to offer my own opinion that the Commonwealth has been injured and not strengthened by the departure of South Africa. If I had not thought so, I should not have been wasting time in efforts to keep South Africa in. Nor, I imagine, would anybody else! I would like to elaborate my reasons for my own attitude. They depend, I believe, upon a basic concept of the Commonwealth which I was not able, and am not able, honestly to abandon. For I believe in the Commonwealth. Despite what has happened, it has much to do for us and for mankind.
But, Sir, before I deal further with the Commonwealth aspect, I must somewhat abruptly turn, because it is necessary to illustrate what I will thereafter say, to recent events in the United Nations.
Having regard to the events of the last few days in the United Nations General Assembly and its committees, and having further regard to what some regard as a switch of policy by Australia, I crave leave merely to state the facts, which I hope will be allowed to speak for themselves. Having stated them, I will return to the Commonwealth issue, which was the sole matter to which the apartheid debate related in London.
In the Special Political Committee of the United Nations, on 4th April - a week ago - there was a general discussion on apartheid. The particular resolutions to which I will refer later were cabled to us and received by us on the morning of Wednesday, 5th April, with an indication that the vote might take place some time that night. Our representative, Mr. Hood, made a speech which accurately expressed our ideas. He did not - and, in view of some newspaper observations, I repeat “not”- say how Australia would vote on any specific resolution. He said nothing to indicate how we intended to vote on the more moderate - the three-power - resolution.
For the benefit of honorable members and. indeed, for the records of this House - because this is an historic matter - I will quote in full what Mr. Hood said. He said this - “Although the description of this item has not changed since the last time the Committee debated the policies of apartheid in South Africa, certain events since 1959- “
That matter had been last debated in 1959- “ have understandably injected an increased degree of urgency to which all of us are certainly bound to pay attention. For one thing, the procedures of the Security Council were for the first time’ invoked on this matter) a year ago. More recently the outcome of a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London three weeksago is fresh in the minds of everyone and theprospect that the Union of South Africa will’ shortly cease to be a member of the Commonwealth has been copiously referred to during this, debate.”
However, it is the Genera] Assembly consideration that is relevant to this at the moment. The Commonwealth aspect is a quite separatething. It has to be remembered also that theSecurity Council still has before it the question in the form in which it was submitted followingthe Sharpeville incident in March, 1960. What” then is the right way for the General Assembly totreat the item?
We have at issue here the clear disregard by the Union of South Africa of many previous strong expressions of the views of the General Assembly that the policy of apartheid is repugnant to Charter principles almost universally accepted. The provisions concerning human rights are one of the most notable objectives set out in the Charter, and any failure in their observance wherever it may occur is indeed legitimately a matter for the concern of all. The Australian Government has stated that it feels a most serious disquiet at the racial policies which have been practised in South Africa, and that it deplores the results of the application of these policies, one tragic example being the events at Sharpeville last year.
With the vast majority of world opinion, we neither support nor condone policies - that is deliberate policies - of racial discrimination - and we can understand the strong feelings which have led so many delegations once again to express their condemnation of the practice of apartheid in the Union. Furthermore, in addition to the questions of principle involved, the policy of apartheid is, as the Prime Minister of Australia has said, unworkable. We can at the very least hope that through what one speaker yesterday described as enlightened self-interest, South Africa will come to a realization of this.
The question arises whether the General Assembly this time and in the circumstances that have arisen since 1959 should go further in stressing its repeated requests that the Union Government should revise its racial policies to remove some of the flagrant contradictions that these have brought about with some of its obligations under the Charter. It must be pointed out in this connexion that the Charter does expressly set a limit to intervention by the United Nations in a field of essentially domestic jurisdiction. In addition to those limits, there are further limits set by the Charter to the powers of the General Assembly. While there may be marginal ground here, many times fought over and contested, we should still pause before embarking on any course which would in effect throw away the whole intent and purpose of the limitations specifically put into the Charter. The Australian delegation, as in the past, will keep this consideration very closely in mind in examining proposals which are or may be put before the Committee.”
He was there referring to these things that subsequently came about. Mr. Hood continued - “Furthermore the important objective is surely to look beyond simple condemnation and to open the way for eventual improvement in racial relations in the Union. “ The Security Council itself in its resolution last year clearly had such a prospect in mind. We certainly ought not now to foreclose by drastic recommendations to Member States the possibility that by patience and sustained contact, such as that already opened up by the Secretary-General, the total volume of effort and opinion both outside and within South Africa may at last be concentrated to good effect.”
I do not think that I need read the rest, except for the final portion, which is in these terms - “… punitive measures are likely to serve no purpose, and on the contrary make it more difficult for those, especially in the Union, who believe there is still time to reverse a collision course.”
On the day on which we received a report of this speech, we were informed that two resolutions were to be moved. One, put forward by, I think, 25 member states, recommended to member states a series of positive sanctions against South Africa, including -
We felt, and feel, no difficulty in opposing such a resolution, for the reasons so concisely stated by Mr. Hood.
The other resolution, put forward by Ceylon, India and Malaya, was much more moderate in tone. It deplored the racial policies of South Africa and some consequences of their enforcement; it deprecated policies based on racial discrimination; it requested, in paragraph 3, action by member states, within the Charter, to bring about the abandonment of these policies; it affirmed that such policies violate the Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights; it noted, in paragraph 5, that “ these policies have led to international friction and that their continuance endangers international peace and security “; it called upon South Africa to bring its policies and conduct into conformity.
The time for decision was, as is not uncommon under United Nations procedures, very short. I consulted my senior colleagues. The resolution had been up before - in the previous Assembly in November, 1959, when Australia had abstained. The United Kingdom on that occasion opposed the resolution. In the events that had happened and were happening, we instructed the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations to vote for this resolution, having first reserved our position on paragraph 3 - the one about taking steps - as it then stood, without a reference to action being “ within the Charter “, and on paragraph 5.
Mr. Plimsoll, with our complete authorization, repeated salient passages of Mr. Hood’s speech and then said - “ But, having made this clear, the Australian delegation will record its vote in favour of the resolution. This it does so as not to have its position misinterpreted. It does not support the policy of apartheid and it joins with other countries in calling upon the Government of the Union to bring its policy and conduct into conformity with its obligations under the Charter. To achieve this result, it is, we think, necessary to vote for the resolution as a whole.”
Indeed, that was the plain common sense of it.
I may say, Sir, that the resolutions have now been voted on. The one which we voted against - the one calling for very stringent sanctions - had a simple majority in favour, but not the necessary majority. It was supported by five Commonwealth countries as well as by 42 others. Those who voted against it included the United Kingdom, Canada, ourselves, New Zealand and the United States of America. The other resolution was adopted by 93 votes in favour to one against, Portugal being the country to vote against it.
It has been said, and we are all well aware of it, that this action contradicts my attitude towards South Africa’s membership of the Commonwealth. Clearly, therefore, the difference between a Commonwealth matter and a United Nations matter must be cleared up.
The General Assembly of the United Nations is a deliberative, not an executive body. It offers opinions, which are, of course, entitled to great weight. If it chooses to offer views upon the conduct or policy of any country, those views will be offered, with every member nation free to speak. Resolutions are proposed, and votes are taken.
The Commonwealth is a different matter. Si is, in a loose but real sense, a special organization under the head of the Commonwealth, the Queen. Its membership grows out of a special history, and is not conditioned by rules or procedures of the United Nations. Members stand in a very special relationship one to another - a relationship quite different from that of members of the United Nations.
The Commonwealth has hitherto existed without resolutions or votes, except in such a case as that which arose in 1949, when India became a republic and when a new constitutional structure or practice was adopted unanimously. The Prime Ministers meet in private for a frank exchange of ideas and information. They have discussions of an intimacy which is quite impossible in the United Nations. They frequently exercise more influence over one another than they perhaps “realize at the time. Their strength is in their very variety. rn a paradoxical sense, part of their strength is in their differences - of history, of background, of traditions, of personality. They advocate their own views, but they do not sit in judgment. This year there were suggestions made by some Prime Ministers that the Commonwealth should “ show what it stands for “ by propounding a code of principles, or a new Bill of Rights, observance of which would presumably become a condition of new or continuing membership. I want to state quite clearly that T most strongly opposed any such notion. I said that it would give rise to problems of interpretation under a host of changing circumstances; that it would encourage legalisms in a body previously happily free of them; that it could well lead to charges and countercharges of breach; and that the old happy and profitable search amid differences for unities and understanding would be replaced by an emphasis upon disagreements. The British Commonwealth, I said, could not long survive such a development.
I went on to say, as I say now, that a written code of principles could not stop short at racial problems, which are in any event not peculiar to one Commonwealth country. Tt would presumably set out some of those great elements which are part of our heritage; the rule of law, the sovereignty of Parliament, no imprisonment without trial, an uncontrolled press.
The famous Balfour formula of 1926, which set out for the first time to define the Commonwealth, used various expressions which are to-day either inaccurate dr not generally accepted, expressions like - “ within the British Empire “, “ a common allegiance to the Crown “, and “ British Commonwealth of Nations “. But the other elements in the formula remain unabated in either strength or significance. They are those which describe the member nations of the Commonwealth as - “ autonomous communities equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs.”
Here we have the recognition of sovereignty, of complete self-government; a right which we properly insist upon for ourselves in all matters within our jurisdiction and therefore one which we must recognize and defend for other Commonwealth countries. They can, and do, choose or permit their own forms of government, authoritarian or democratic, and their own legal and social institutions and policies. This basic truth is occasionally forgotten. Yet it is vital to the Commonwealth structure and spirit. I make no apology for having maintained and expressed it at the certain risk of misrepresentation. And let me say quite plainly that in defending this truth I felt that I was defending my own country, its sovereign rights and its future. To do this was no academic exercise; it seemed to me to involve the self-government of Australia.
When in this House last year, after the tragic incidents at Sharpeville and Langa, after worldwide expressions of horror, and before the Prime Ministers conference of May, 1960, the matter came up for debate, I stated the position of the Australian Government. In substance I said thai the South African policy of apartheid, or separate development of two races living N in the same country - a policy the opposite of integration - was a matter of domestic jurisdiction and that 1 would not publicly comment upon it. lt would, of course, have been easy to have joined in public comment, and personally acceptable, since, like all honorable members, I was horrified bv the dreadful events to which I have referred. But the view which I took, though severely criticized at the time, was, T venture to say, correct. The policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of another country is at the very root of Commonwealth relations.
So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the principle stated by me in Canberra was acted upon at the 1960 conference. Nothwithstanding worldwide protests about apartheid, arising out of the Sharpeville matter, that conference, when the matter was raised urgently at the very outset, issued a statement, unanimously, affirming the practice that conference would not discuss domestic matters. In the final communique - a unanimous document - we said - and I quote only two passages, both short - “The Commonwealth is an association of independent sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies.
Whilst reaffirming the traditional practice that Commonwealth conferences do not discuss the internal affairs of member countries Ministers availed themselves of Mr. Louw’s presence in London - “
Mr. Louw was representing the Prime Minister of South Africa - “ to have informal discussions with him about the racial situation in South Africa. During these informal discussions Mr. Louw gave information and answered questions on the Union’s policies, and the other Ministers conveyed to him their views on the South African problem. The Ministers emphasized that the Commonwealth itself is a multi-racial association and expressed the need to ensure good relations between all member states and peoples of the Commonwealth.”
I know of nothing which has happened since May, 1960 - since that unanimous declaration - to convert the internal affairs of South Africa into a matter warranting intervention by the Commonwealth, except that it has been widely debated, and the policy roundly condemned.
I hope that nobody will suggest that Dr. Verwoerd admitted that apartheid was no longer a domestic matter. What he did - let us be fair - was to face the fact that on this occasion, with his continuation of membership application before the chair, debate about apartheid was inevitable.
However, the departure of South Africa has happened, and I have no heart to enter into needless arguments about it. But let us, who are within the covenant of the Commonwealth, make no mistake. The issue concerns more than South Africa; it concerns the whole character and future of the greatest international partnership the world has yet seen.
One should, perhaps, hesitate to speak of J. C. Smuts, the great Commonwealth man, who, be it remembered, first expressed the policy of separate development in South Africa, but whose contribution to freedom cannot be reckoned inferior to that of any man now engaged in public affairs. But in 1960, after the Prime Ministers conference and on invitation by the University of Cambridge, I delivered the first Smuts Memorial Lecture. I had intended to quote a passage from it, but I will confine myself to a couple of paragraphs which are appropriate. I was talking about the Prime Ministers conferences, and I said - “ We do not deal with (he domestic political policies of any one of us, for we know that political policies come or go with governments and that we are not concerned with Governments and their policies so much as we are with nations and their peoples. If we ever thought of expelling a member nation of the Commonwealth it would, I hope, be because we believed that in the general interests of the Commonwealth that nation as a nation was not fit to be our associate. “
These words come back to me to-day. Under inexorable pressure, South Africa is out of the Commonwealth. It is not the Verwoerd Government that is out. It is the’ Union of South Africa; the nation evolved by the great liberal statesman ship of 1909; the nation of Botha and Smuts; the nation from which, in two wars, soldiers fought side by side wilh our own, the 1st South African Division being alongside our 9th Division at El Alamein; the nation which provided lines of supply to the Middle East at a time when the Mediterranean was an acutely dangerous sea; the nation over 45 per cent, of the voters of which recently voted to remain within the direct allegiance to the Throne; the people three-quarters of whom, as men of colour, to whom we have a great and brotherly responsibility, might reasonably be presumed to find some of their future hopes of emancipation in the membership of the great Commonwealth. I hope I may look to my fellow members of this Parliament to share in my sorrow at these unhappy circumstances.
I therefore now turn, as I said I would, to a statement on apartheid, a statement now rendered both permissible and necessary. I preface it by emphasizing that I was not, in London or here, concerned to defend apartheid, which, indeed, I condemn. My great object was to defend the interests, as I saw them, of my own country.
I deeply resent the attempt that has been made in some quarters to suggest that, as I wanted to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth, I should be taken to favour or condone the shooting of natives at Sharpeville. That incident shocked the world, as it shocked me. I am against apartheid; against some of the modern manifestations and practices because they offend the conscience; against it as a basic policy because it seems to me to be doomed to a most terrible disaster. But we are a fair-minded people, I hope, and we should try to understand how the basic policy came to be adopted, and what it was originally designed to achieve. What I will say will be by way of explanation and certainly not by way of defence.
In 3917, while in London as a distinguished member of the War Cabinet, Smuts made a notable speech on South African problems. It is well to look back on it to see why this basic policy was ever adopted. In the course of his speech, he said - “ Instead of mixing up black and white in the old haphazard way, which instead of lifting up the black degraded the white, we are now trying to lay down a policy of keeping them apart as much as possible in our institutions. In land ownership, settlement and forms of government we are trying to keep them apart, and in that way laying down in outline a general policy which it may take a hundred years to work out, but which in the end may be the solution of our native problem.”
That was how Smuts stated it in the early days of this deliberately adopted policy. In our thinking this idea is now outmoded; it is much too severely applied; humane modern political ideas are against it; it will fail disastrously.
But in every country in which there are large numbers of people of different races, millions of European stock, millions of coloured stock, the problem must arise as to whether there should be separate development, or integration, with equality of political and social rights within the same geographical area. This, to me - and I still refer to the original policy, not to these later developments - is essentially a problem of statesmanship. It has moral aspects if, in the pursuit of one policy or the other inhumanity is practised, injustices occur, or the dignity of man is debased. But the initial judgment is one of statesmanship. The problem exists in many countries, but it is most acute in South Africa. I am profoundly grateful that we do not have it in Australia.
It is against this background, Sir, that I criticize what South Africa does about a problem which is its problem, not ours.
I think that the policy will, if it continues to be applied as it is now, end in the most frightful disaster. Dr. Verwoerd told us in London what his Government is doing, in the fields of health and education in particular, for the Bantu, both in the Bantu territories or “ homelands “, and in the ordinary provinces. He demonstrated that South Africa was spending very much more on these purposes than any other African country. He saw the Bantu, in the territories, coming up by stages to self-government, as we see the people of Papua and New Guinea. But he saw no prospect of equal political rights for the Bantu living and working in the ordinary provinces. Nor did he seem to me to envisage - if, indeed, such a thing be practicable, and I would think it is not - a complete territorial as well as a facial division of South Africa, so that all members of each race might be completely self-governing in their own place. As he knows from what I have said to him more than once, both in conference and out of it, I think there is a fatal flaw in this policy. The more zealously the Union builds up the minds and bodies of the Bantu, the more certain will it be that the day will come when, conscious of their own human dignity, their capacity and their strength, they will no longer tolerate the status of second-class citizens. And, when that day comes, they will demand their due, not in an atmosphere of evolving friendship, but with hostility and, for all we know, violence. The ultimate conflict, as I said in London, may be bloody and devastating.
There are, to us, certain astonishing things in the application of the policy which have, I think, done much to alienate world opinion. One of them I, and others, earnestly discussed with Dr. Verwoerd in London. The Union does not accredit or receive diplomatic missions to or from Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa. This discrimination is, to me, offensive’ to the great countries concerned. I pointed out that there is great value in such exchanges, and that to deny them is to suggest some notion of racial superiority, intolerable in form, and utterly unjustified in fact. I did my best to point out to him that even this one diplomatic step would do something to lessen the tension which we all wanted to see relaxed. But Dr. Verwoerd was adamant on this point, as on others. He felt that there would be a grave risk of “ incidents “ arising from public opinion and private action. I said, in vain, that it was better to accept these risks than to incur the certainty of mounting hostility.
A phrase has been coined to the effect that I have “ equated “ apartheid and Australia’s immigration policy. This is quite untrue. Indeed, it is arrant nonsense. One policy, the policy of apartheid, relates to a discriminatory policy in respect of people already permanently resident; the other, our own, to a discrimination in the admission of persons for permanent residence. I hope I do not need to be told that the twothings are quite different. I have always been grateful to my friend the Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister of Malaya, for his warm and helpful recognition of the validity of our policy and of our right to adopt it.
But the whole point that I make is that, while I believe that our immigration policy is both wise and just, is based not upon any foolish notion of racial superiority, but upon a proper desire to preserve a homogeneous population and so avert the troubles that have bedevilled some other countries, it is a domestic policy. And the right to determine our domestic policy is part of our sovereignty as a member of the Commonwealth. In short, what I have been saying is that the rule of non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign communities in the Commonwealth, once broken, may be broken again in the future. Such a development would concern us all very deeply.
Before leaving the London conference, I would like to say that in the course of a general review of the world situation, several of the Prime Ministers mentioned the matter of Continental China. No conclusion was either sought or arrived at, reports to the contrary in a section of the press being quite untrue. But I think it my duty to the House to put it in possession of the views presented by me. I said that I thought there was much loose talk about recognizing Continental China as if the problem admitted of a simple answer. I pointed out that we have here a complete nest of questions. Diplomatic recognition, for example, was a bi-lateral matter. Some nation might be unwilling to recognize in this sense, while being willing to admit Continental China to the United Nations. But then there were further considerations. Was Continental China to include Formosa? Were the inhabitants of that country to be handed over to the control of the Communists? And then, supposing that Continental China accepted, as a condition of admission to the United Nations, the exclusion of Formosa - the “ two Chinas “ idea - was Formosa, as an independent nation, to be cast into outer darkness, or was she to become herself a member of the United Nations? Who was, in any such events, to have the permanent seat on the Security Council, with its right of veto? And, supposing that, as many nations feel, the Security Council should be broadened by the addition of further permanent and temporary members - I have heard countries like India, Pakistan and Brazil mentioned - should the new permanent members be permanent in the sense of not needing to be reelected, or should they also have the veto? I have re-stated these points to the House as a warning against over-simplification, and not as containing any suggestion that Australia’s policy on the matter is in process of change. Our policy was stated fully in this’ House by Mr. Casey, as he then was, and that statement stands.
After the conference, I attended a meeting with Mr. Heath, the Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr. Soames, the Minister for Agriculture, on the problem of the European Common Market, and its relation to the Free Trade area, that is the problem of “ the seven “ and “ the six “. As honorable members know, our position is that, so far from complaining about the six-power treaty we have seen in it great political as well as economic value. But we believe that some wider association which would include Great Britain is desirable if Western European unity is to be achieved and maintained. But we have our special interests to protect, particularly our exports of primary products both to Great Britain and Europe. I made it clear to the United Kingdom Ministers that before any negotiation calculated to lead to an offer or “ agreement in principle “ - that familiar phrase - took place, Australia expected the fullest consultation. In that sense, I said, consultation Was essential when ideas were in process of formulation, and not after they had become either fixed or presented. I received an explicit assurance that this rule should’ be observed. There was also agreement to my suggestion that our officials should meet to examine whatever specific proposals might be put forward within a month or two.
Subsequently, I was able to have a talk with Mr. Lloyd about the possibilities of Australian entry to the London loan market during 1961. As honorable members know, Treasury approval is needed in such matters. Mr. Lloyd was most helpful and favorable, subject of course to amounts and details which always have to be worked out near the chosen time for an issue. Incidentally, I found that our London stocks were strong in the market; and our credit good.
Finally, I speak of the Seato meeting at Bangkok. Among those present were the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, the United States of America Secretary of State, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the foreign ministers of France, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines. The principal subject was Laos. That country’s future, in or out of the Communist orbit, is very important. It is one of the countries covered by the SouthEast Asia Treaty. It has a long, common frontier with Thailand, a member of Seato. It is vulnerable to aggression from North Vietnam and Communist China. The civil conflict is conducted by relatively small forces, and, in its own way, life goes on. In such circumstances, communism has a happy hunting ground. But for Seato, Laos is important in terms of defence. It provides a test of the significance and effectiveness of a treaty organization created to resist Communist aggression. For, if Laos passes into Communist hands, where does the process end? There are grim thoughts in this for Australia.
The conference proved to be both understanding and invigorating. All representatives went away feeling and Saying that Seato- had been given new significance and force. We finally evolved a resolution which was, in spite of some anticipations of differences and difficulties, unanimously approved. I had the satisfaction of playing an active paI in its drafting and’ acceptance. It has been published, but I table it formally for the information of honorable members.
At this stage, I will content myself with a few observations -
We all agreed with the proposals made by the United. Kingdom to the Soviet Union, that, there should be a cease-fire, a revival of the International Control Commission to supervise the cease-fire and the stabilization of the local scene, and an international conference ot thu kind which gave rise to the Geneva Accords in 1954.
We’ all felt that there should be created in Laos a more broadly based government which could, by commanding wide support in Laos, eliminate avoidable causes of international strife’.
We’ made it clear that we did’ not wish Laos to become a satellite of either the Communist or the non-Communist Powers. We desired it to be independent, united, sovereign and neutral. We felt that if Laos were unalined with any power or group of powers, no good excuse would arise for further Communist intervention.
We had, and I now more than ever have, great hopes that the Soviet Union would accept the United Kingdom proposals. But we affirmed that, should there continue to be an active military attempt to obtain control of Laos, members of Seato are prepared, collectively and in the terms of the treaty, to take whatever action may be appropriate in the circumstances. We all hope and believe that no military intervention will be necessary. There can be no actual commitment of forces except by the decisions of governments. I say this because I would wish to dispose of any idea that Seato is either truculent or aggressive. But it is necessary to say that if, unhappily, collective Seato action is forced upon us, we will need to act together or find Seato weakened and destroyed.
I must not dwell on these possibilities. At present, we have high hopes of a peaceful settlement and should concentrate our efforts upon it.
Before I. conclude, I would like to say two things: The first is that this statement of mine, though inevitably expressed very largely in the first person - since I have been actively and personally concerned in these matters, and have no desire to’ escape my great personal responsibilities - expresses the views of Cabinet, which has taken a full share in its preparation.
The second is that I have had no desire to rehearse differences, or merely to criticize decisions already taken. But over a period of a quarter of a century, it has been my privilege to have something to do, or say, or write, about the Commonwealth. It is something dear to our hearts. It means, and will mean, much for sanity and tolerance in a grievously troubled world.
We shall play our part with as much vigour and determination as in the past. We maintain our faith in the Commonwealth, in its value to its member nations, and in its ability to make constant and notable contributions to the peace and prosperity of the world and of all its peoples. Controversies have arisen about my own attitude towards recent events. It is, if I may say so, only just that my reasons for my views should be plainly stated to the Australian Parliament, which has given me its generous confidence for so many years, and to the Commonwealth of which I have tried to be a loyal servant
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [3.33]. - I move -
That the paper be printed.
The statement which has been tabled here, and which was read in another place last night, deals with many aspects of foreign affairs and with the part that Australia has taken in those affairs. It deals with the meeting of South-East Asia Treaty Organization powers at Bangkok, called to discuss the situation in the State of Laos, which is at present under threat of Communist domination - a serious situation. The statement deals also with the Australian action at the United Nations General Assembly, and with the historic and unhappy loss to the Commonwealth of one of its member nations. Those matters in themselves are such, I believe, that they should most certainly be debated in this chamber. For some time now they have been the subject of ill-informed and distorted comment by correspondents in many of our newspapers. SoI feel, Sir, that it is most important that we should have an opportunity to discuss this very important statement.
I should like on this occasion, Mr. President, to pay a tribute to our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for the great part that he has played in Prime Ministers’ conferences and in Commonwealth affairs; indeed, in all matters concerned with the welfare of the nations of the world. The statement is a matter-of-fact statement of events, events which it is important that the people of Australia should know about. I believe, Sir, that it is welcomed by all Australians. I have moved that the paper be printed because it is my belief that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will wish to comment on it, and because I am of the opinion that there is a duty on honorable senators on both sides to express opinions on the matters referred to in this very important and historic statement.
– We have before us the statement delivered by the Prime
Minister (Mr. Menzies) in another place last evening. There has been little time to consider it. The matters with which it deals, notably that of South Africa, have been before us, however, for some considerable time. The Prime Minister reports upon a number of events that took place during his visit overseas, and it is good to know that he was afforded an opportunity by President Kennedy to discuss world affairs and some of the problems of Australia. I think it is an excellent thing for this country that we should preserve at the highest level a very close liaison with America and with its chief executive officer. I think it is safe to say that upon the President of America, Mr. Kennedy, very largely rests the future of the world. He has enormous responsibilities not only for world economy but also for world peace. He is one man who should have our good wishes and our sympathy in the enormous and the many tasks with which he is faced. I am certain that the talks between our own Prime Minister and President Kennedy will be of advantage to this country.
It is right, too, that the Prime Minister should report as early as possible upon events that took place at the Prime Ministers’ Conference between the heads of the Commonwealth of Nations as now constituted, and I am pleased that that conference in the first place addressed its mind to the vastly important question of world disarmament. I recognize, as thePrime Minister has told us, that here was a problem affecting every human being in the world, that was eating up the financial and material resources of the world, and that was diverting man-power and materials from peace-time uses for the amelioration of the lot of mankind into purposes connected with the destruction of mankind. The conference very properly gave priority to that great question and set out in a communique at the end of the conference the conclusions that had been reached. The Opposition has no quarrel with those particular resolutions, providing sensibly, as they did, for a gradual disarmament on the basis of equality and providing for a system of inspection of control throughout the processes of disarmament.
I note that in paragraph 5 of the Statement on Disarmament this is said -
The principal military powers should resume direct negotiations without delay in close contact with the United Nations, which is responsible for disarmament under the Charter. Since peace is the concern of the whole world, other nations should also be associated with the disarmament negotiations, either directly or through some special machinery to be set up by the United Nations, or by both means.
One must interpret that as including a reference to Nationalist China. As there is a reference to other nations and to the principal military powers, it is quite certain that that great nation, powerful as it is, having a vast population and great resources, is destined to emerge as a mighty power, both economically and militarily, if the world proceeds as it has been doing for some time.
– Does the honorable senator mean Nationalist China or mainland China?
– I meant to say mainland China, or red China if you prefer that term. I recognize, and the Opposition recognizes, that there are problems connected with the admission of that nation to the United Nations. I am reminded very acutely of the words of Lord Attlee at a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association that was held in this building. He said to the delegates -
You want China to obey the rules of the club but you are not prepared to admit her to membership of the club.
I think that that wise statement was very potent and very much to the point. The plain truth is that it would be impossible for the other nations of the world to consider disarmament for one moment unless mainland China were included in the scheme. It is completely true that if a nation, no matter what its faults may be, is treated as an outcast it may well be expected to behave as an outcast.
– It has, too.
– I am not justifying mainland China’s behaviour on any count. I am not attempting to do that. I am just at this point facing the reality that there can be no disarmament in the world without the concurrence of red China. How absurd it would be for all the other nations to agree to disarmament and to ignore the possibility of the armament and development of mainland China. It would be to invite her to take over the world. Therefore, whatever is said or done in relation to disarmament, red China must be included in the discussions and, above all, in the final arrangements.
– Are you suggesting that mainland China’s example has been exemplary in the past?
– I said quite the contrary in reply to an interjection by Senator Cole a moment ago. 1 do not regard mainland China’s conduct as exemplary. After all is said and done, the concept of the United Nations not only by its very nature but also by its name imports the fact that all the nations of the world1 will be included.
– It especially singles out peace-loving nations.
– Yes, peace-loving nations are to be preferred. Membership does undoubtedly involve devotion to the cause of peace. I am suggesting to the Senate that mainland China might be much more amenable to suggestions of good behaviour and be better subjected to the impact of world opinion if it stood before the bar of the United Nations instead of standing up as an outcast, as has been done. There are difficulties mentioned by the Prime Minister about mainland China’s admission to the United Nations. There are difficulties about everything - about every problem that arises politically.
– Do you adopt the same attitude in relation to South Africa?
– I shall come to South Africa in due course. The Minister may be quite assured that I will deal with the South African position. When one admits the existence of problems connected with that matter he must also face the possibility that the success of any disarmament proposals might be in danger unless red China acquiesces in them. That is of the very essence of the matter. It is a waste of time to talk about disarmament without having that fact in mind.
The greater part of the document before us deals with the position of South Africa. ‘ The Prime Minister himself devoted nearly the whole of his speech to a justification of what had been done by him and his Government in public at London before the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and finally at the United Nations as recently as within the last week. Dealing first of all with the position of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Opposition was shocked when the legalistic approach that the Prime Minister adopted in this Parliament at the time of the Sharpeville outrage in South Africa was preserved before the Conference of Prime Ministers. His completely legalistic approach was that this was a domestic matter, not one in which the members of the Commonwealth of Nations and their Prime Ministers had any competence. He justified that approach by referring to the Balfour decision and said that the Commonwealth of Nations would disintegrate and dissolve if its members were free to pass judgment upon each other’s policies. That approach - the same as was made a year ago in this Parliament - is completely legalistic and lacks an appreciation of human issues. We see the Prime Minister worshipping again at the shrine of sovereignty and seeking to preserve untarnished a principle regulating the procedures of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The view I take is that you cannot ignore what happens in any one of the member countries. It is a question of degree. I put this question to the Senate: If one member of the Commonwealth were guilty of behaviour of such an outrageous character that world opinion could not tolerate it, is it expected that that nation should be allowed to continue in association with the others? Is it expected that they should be prepared to continue in association with a nation which was offending world opinion? Is it not certain that one of two things would happen? Either the offending nation - as South Africa has done - would withdraw, or the whole concept of the Commonwealth of Nations would disintegrate and dissolve. You cannot carry a rule which, after all is said and done, is a rule of procedure, not of principle, to such extreme lengths as the Prime Minister has contended it should be carried.
– Axe you putting that on behalf of the Opposition?
– Yes. Let me develop my theme before you ask questions. You can ask questions after I have told you fully what I think. If a legalistic approach should have been made on this occasion, the Prime Minister had an approach at his disposal that would have served his purpose very much better. At the recent conference, South Africa was in the position of an applicant for membership under a new constitution - as a republic. The conference had before it the application for membership of South Africa in a new guise. Who will argue that it was not proper for that body to consider, on that application, the conduct of affairs by South Africa?
I say, first of all, that the Prime Ministers’ decision to investigate the internal affairs of South Africa was completely justified in relation to an application by that country for admission to their body as a republic. In my view, the principle for which the Prime Minister so hugely contends and at such tremendous length, not only abroad but in this Parliament, by-passes that plain fact. The principle of non-intervention in the domestic policies of member nations simply had no application to this case, where South Africa was an applicant for membership.
– How far do you suggest it is proper for the Prime Ministers at such conferences to intervene in sovereign matters?
– It is of no use to discuss hypothetical cases. In considering an application for membership, I suggest that every matter connected with the applicant, whether domestic or external, is entitled to be reviewed. That is my first proposition.
Secondly, I say that if the Commonwealth of Nations is to survive it must have regard for the principles of justice and for the upholding of human dignity. Those considerations must take precedence of any rules of procedure. I can envisage a position developing in a certain country that would be viewed with utter abhorrence by other countries - such a situation that other countries could not be expected to continue to associate with the offending country. In a situation of that kind, is a rule of ‘procedure to obtrude? You cannot apply such a rule under all conditions. This rule may be a very good working rule, but it was wrong for the Prime Minister to give it such prominence and to devote the whole of his energy to contending for it. Here is an acute human problem that is disturbing the whole world. It involves injustice. To my mind, the Prime Minister made a completely unrealistic approach to it. That approach showed bis failure to appreciate the changing world in which we live. How rapidly it -is changing! It showed his failure to appreciate the human elements that are involved.
– Do you suggest that the same policy should have operated when India and Pakistan were admitted? Do you think we should have gone into their backgrounds too?
– I have no doubt that those aspects would have been open to review when India and Pakistan were applicants. 1 point out to the honorable senator that they would have to justify themselves when they were seeking entry to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ club, just as the honorable senator would have to do if he were applying to become a member of a private club. At that time Great Britain and the other Commonwealth nations had the closest day-to-day liaison and association with those nations. They understood their problems and knew their policies and outlook.
If a legalistic approach had to be made to this matter, the Prime Minister chose the wrong approach from the point of view of the presentation of Australia to the world. He failed then to denounce apartheid, as he should have done, and as he has done most roundly, for the first time, in this statement, but far too late. By concentrating on legalisms he has left us in the position that we have been presented up to date almost as supporters of apartheid. In addition, he has bestowed lavish praise upon the Prime Minister of South Africa. He has referred to him as being courteous, and having showed great dignity, and as having been extremely lucid. Terms like that have been used in speech after speech, first at the Prime Ministers’ press conference on 19th March and then at the Australian Club dinner at the Savoy Hotel two days later. All this is coupled with the failure of this Government roundly to condemn apartheid until the present time- a year after Sharpeville. The Prime Minister has contended for the legalistic approach and the upholding of a rule of the Commonwealth of Nations instead of a rule of natural justice. When a question of injustice is involved, you should never try to justify it by the application of any rule of procedure. That is the great error that the Prime Minister has made in his approach to this matter.
Notwithstanding the long association that this country has had with South Africa, 1 say frankly that I think the best thing that could have happened in the circumstances has happened, and South Africa is no longer a member of the Commonwealth. I trust that it will be brought to a realization of the fact that it ought to change aspects oT its policy. The Prime Minister ‘of the United Kingdom made it completely clear in his speech to the House of Commons that if the Prime Minister of South Africa had yielded even a fraction in the matter of the racial policies being pursued by his Government there would have been a different result, because there would have been some hope for the future.
Let us look at one matter that was referred to by Mr. Menzies in his speech on the racial policy of South Africa, and we ‘shall see things in their true perspective. He said that South Africa would not accept as diplomatic representatives people of a coloured race. We in Australia do not hesitate to accept coloured diplomatic representatives. We benefit vastly from the fact that such people are here. We have the vast advantage of meeting them in and about this Parliament. I have no hesitation in saying that we benefit, and at times are made humble, by their dignity, learning, culture, command of languages and wide experience; It is a fact that in Australia we never differentiate between people according to the colour of their skins. One has only to recall what happened in Melbourne after the last cricket test match between Australia and the West Indies. The entire populace of Melbourne turned out to pay tribute to men of black skin, not just because they were good cricketers, but because they were good sportsmen, because they had spirit and because they had courage. In a word, the populace paid its respects to them because they were men. That is the outlook in Australia, and there is nothing wrong with it.
– They were not bad cricketers, either.
– No, they were not bad cricketers at all. Bearing iri mind the attitude of all parties in this Parliament t6 foreign diplomatic representation, and remembering what happened in Melbourne on the moving occasion to which I have referred, I think that South Africa is really the poorer for the policy that has been pursued by its Government.
I regret South Africa’s departure from the Commonwealth of Nations, but it was inevitable in the circumstances.
– What do you think will be the future effects of South Africa’s policy, and of her departure from the Commonwealth of Nations?
– 1 cannot prophesy what will be the effect of South Africa’s racial policies. I would hope that those policies will be changed more rapidly as a consequence of South Africa’s departure from the Commonwealth of Nations than would have been the case had she remained a member. I hope to see the day when South Africa will be welcomed back into the Commonwealth of Nations.
So much for what happened at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. The same legalistic argument was carried into the United Nations only last week by Australia’s representative, Mr. Hood, in dealing with the resolutions that were before the United Nations General Assembly on the subject of South Africa. During his speech, Mr. Menzies quoted the speech made to the General Assembly by Mr. Hood, and I propose to read part of that speech. Mr. Hood said -
The question arises whether the General Assembly this time and in the circumstances that have arisen since 1959 should go further in stressing its repeated requests that the Union Government should revise its racial policies to remove some of the flagrant contradictions that these have brought about with some of its obligations under the Charter. It must be pointed out in this connection that the Charter does expressly set a limit to intervention by the United Nations in a field of essentially domestic jurisdiction.
The same old legal argument! Mr. Hood continues -
In addition to those limits, there are further limits set by the Charter to the powers of the General Assembly. While there may be marginal ground here, many times fought over and contested, we should still pause before embarking on any course which would in effect throw away the whole intent and purpose of the limitations specifically put into the Charter.
Listen to this sentence -
The Australian Delegation, as in the past, will keep this consideration very closely in mind in examining proposals which are or may be put before the Committee.
– What is your objection to that?
– 1 merely make the point that that statement clearly indicated that Australia would abstain from voting.
– Nothing of the kind!
– That was clearly indicated by that statement.
– You are misrepresenting the position, and doing it deliberately.
– I am reading Mr. Hood’s exact words and am drawing the only conclusion possible. Mr. Hood’s statement was construed by the press in the way I have construed it. The statement was construed as indicating that the Australian delegation would abstain from voting. I do not say that is a proper inference to be drawn from that statement, but it is the most obvious inference to be drawn - that Australia would abstain. That is what I said, and I repeat it.
– I have never before heard such irresponsible statements in this chamber.
– I would be happy to hear Senator Mattner tell me what other interpretation he places on these words -
The Australian Delegation, as in the past-
And, on this subject, it had abstained - will keep this consideration very closely in mind in examining proposals which are or may be put before the Committee.
The view that I take is supported by subsequent remarks by Mr. Hood, but at this stage I want to refer to earlier remarks in the same speech when Mr. Hood said -
With the vast majority of world opinion, we neither support nor condone policies - that is deliberate policies - of racial discrimination - and we can understand the strong feelings which have led so many delegations once again to express their condemnation of the practice of apartheid in the Union.
He neither supports nor condones, but why does he not condemn?
– What is wrong with Mr. Hood’s statement?
– Where is his condemnation? We neither support nor condone, but we do not condemn. That is the position in which Australia is placed before the world. Where is our condemnation?
– In the provisions relating to human rights.
– On that very point-
– Read all of the speech.
– The speech is not long, and Senator Paltridge may read it if he wishes. If one couples the two statements that I have referred; to one sees plainly expressed the intention to abstain from voting - the intention not to be critical of the policy of apartheid. Show me a word of condemnation in Mr. Hood’s speech. The Government says that it neither supports nor condones, but it is very careful not to condemn.
– What impression will this leave in the minds of other nations?
– That is an important point. What was the Government’s attitude in respect of South Africa’s racial policies a day or two later, after Britain had reversed her attitude dramatically overnight? Our representative in the United Nations on Monday last was instructed to vote for the resolution condemning racial discrimination in South Africa and calling on the member states to take action within the Charter. Australia completely reversed the attitude that she had taken up to that point. The tragedy is, why did we take so long, and why did we allow ourselves to be persuaded not to condemn, not to show that we abhorred the policies being pursued? Why were we prepared to stand behind South Africa at all costs, employing the legalistic argument that this was a domestic issue? The whole of world opinion was aroused and Australia was one of the last countries to come before the bar of the world gathering of nations to condemn the policies and call for action. This country has been placed in a tragic position.
Now may I deal with the subject of apartheid again for a moment or two. The Prime Minister, in the speech he delivered last night, explained that in London he objected to the racial policy that was being pursued by South Africa not because it was wrong, not because it was inhuman, but because it would not work. That is the argument that he told us in his speech he put to the Prime Ministers’ Conference. He said the very same thing at his press conference in London on 19th March. At page 2 of the document which was issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister is reported as having said -
My objection to the policy of apartheid is, in simple terms, that in my opinion it won’t work. It is a policy of separate development. It is a policy that accepts that the white man occupies a superior position. In other words it is the same policy that existed in all colonial establishments until a few years ago.
But he has left it until now, he has left it for twelve months, to condemn the policy in the terms that should have been applied to it a year ago, and Australia has been one of the last to join in an expression of abhorrence before the world. I have already referred to what Mr. Hood said - that he neither supported nor condoned the policy and that he carefully refrained from condemning. They are the two events that have done so much damage to Australia in the eyes of the world.
Now I come to the very unfortunate utterances of the Prime Minister after the recent conference of Prime Ministers in London. He has been charged - 1 include myself among those who make the charge - with having done great disservice to this country in relation to its immigration policy by equating it, in effect, with the South African policy of apartheid. Last night the Prime Minister denied that he had done that and said there was no connexion between the two matters. Let me direct the minds of honorable senators again to what happened at the press conference of 19th March. The Prime Minister said -
South Africa doesn’t seek to apply that policy to any other country. It is as much a matter of domestic policy for South Africa as Australia’s migration policy.
Why bring in Australia’s immigration policy at all? The right honorable gentleman now says that there is no relation of any kind between the two policies, and he now explains the difference very well. But why did not he do it then? One of the pressman gave him a very excellent opportunity to do so a little later. He asked the Prime Minister -
Sir, on this precedent;
That is, the precedent that internal matters could be discussed - do you fear any attacks possibly on Australia’s migration policy?
The Prime Minister answered -
Well, once the precedent is established it’s obviously a possibility.
How much better it would have been for this country if he had said, “ No, I don’t. There is no relation between them “; or if he had given the very excellent exposition of Australia’s policy that it was left to the head of Malaya, the Tunku Abdul Rahman, to give. The Tunku explained it admirably. What should the Australian Prime Minister have done when faced with that question? He should have given the answer that he has now given about our policy and which it was left to the Tunku to put forward on our behalf. Clearly the Prime Minister let this country down - I do not say he did it deliberately; I say he did it foolishly - by, in practice, inviting the world to attack our immigration policy and to put Australia on the defensive.
But the right honorable gentleman did not stop there. At the Australia Club dinner at the Savoy he again adverted to the matter, and did so in very similar terms. Let me quote the verbatim report of the Prime Minister’s speech contained in the inward cablegram that has been supplied to me by the Department of External Affairs.
– -They are extracts.
– Yes. But the speech is quoted exactly. The Prime Minister said -
But I must tell you in view of all this propaganda that goes on, that while I was saying to myself, “Well I think this fixes it “
He was referring to the Prime Ministers conference - one, two, three, four, five people got up and made it completely clear that they wouldn’t have this. They didn’t want South Africa in, and every convenient opportunity or inconvenient opportunity would be taken to attack her. Well. I am not Dr. Verwoerd and I am not the apostle of apartheid, though I have my own immigration policy.
Why did he want to say that in that context? The Prime Minister has said that he never equated them. What is that but bracketing the two policies in the eyes of the world?
– He will be quoted later on.
– Hehas been quoted. He continued -
I am bound to say that in his place -
He was referring to Dr. Verwoerd -
I would have left, certainly not later than he did.
Could there have been a stronger presentation of our policy than that, almost on the same level as that of apartheid, by the Prime Minister? The Prime Minister’s utterances were very harmful indeed to this country. His comments lead the “ Mercury “ of Tasmania to publish a leading article on the matter. Mr. Menzies, in his speech, spoke about the immense dignity of Dr. Verwoerd. The article of 23rd March to which I have referred is headed “ Immense Dignity “. This newspaper, which is a tremendous supporter of the present Government, said -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) appears to have made the most extraordinary speech of his career, and one which would have been better unsaid. In it be defended the South African Premier (Dr. Verwoerd), praised his immense dignity, and virtually invited the world to draw a parallel between apartheid and Australia’s migration policy.
There has been a great deal of double talk about South Africa and her racial policy. Criticism arises not from apartheid, as such, but fr.om the murderous way it has been carried out by a regime which is the spiritual successor to Hitler. It is ridiculous to compare the savagery and repression of the Verwoerd regime with this country’s migration policy.
Yet our own Prime Minister allowed the two policies to be taken together, Now he denies that he equate.d them when he was abroad. He had no excuse for doing that, because in this Parliament, immediately after the Sharpeville incident the Labour Party sought, when the Government did not, to draw attention to the Government’s failure to condemn the policy of apartheid and to reprimand it for the attitude it adopted when these things happened. I quote the following paragraphs in the motion that was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition in another place in
March, 1960, immediately after the Sharpe- ville incident -
That this House -
regrets that the opinions expressed by the Prime Minister will be construed as Australian condonation of the South African Prime Minister’s statements and attitude;
repudiates the parallel that the Prime Minister drew between South Africa’s treatment of the natives in the Union of South Africa and South-West Africa and Australia’s treatment of the indigenous inhabitants of the Commonwealth and its territories because Australia’s policy in Australia and PapuaNew Guinea is not apartheid nor does it require and never has required the carriage of passports governing their movements inside their country by indigenous peoples;
emphasizes that the Prime Minister’s gratuitous and maladroit references to the policies of Australia in regard to its native peoples may be construed in Asia and Africa in a manner most damaging to this country.
A year ago in this Parliament most pointed attention was directed to the damaging way in which the Prime Minister was referring to Australian policy and inviting attack from the world. He persisted in that approach right up till last night, when, for the first time, he made a distinction between our policy and apartheid. That is the type of thing that should have been done a full year ago. That is the type of thing that should have been done constantly down the intervening months. It is only now, following a change on the part of Great Britain, that he is forced into coming out openly and frankly and doing what should have been done a year ago in the best interests of this country.
After all is said and done, the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister for External Affairs, has not had a happy career in the Department of External Affairs. That is not to be wondered at, because of all departments that is one that takes an enormous amount of the Minister’s time. He must be forever studying, reading and keeping up with current events. Not only that, but he must keep in constant touch with people all over the world. The job involves travel. It is more than a wholetime job, and it is certainly not the type of activity that a Prime Minister, doing the job of Prime Minister properly, can just take under his wing as a side study. That is just impossible. I would say, further, that the performance of the Prime Minister on the international stage has shown that he lacks the patience, understanding and tolerance necessary for the position. In this instance he has displayed most clearly that the legalistic approach that he makes to matters is the wrong one. A very human approach has to be made. He has demonstrated beyond possibility of contradiction that he is out of touch with world trends and world opinion in relation to the South African issue and what is involved in it. Accordingly, on behalf of the Opposition, I move -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “ in the opinion of this Senate, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great ‘ harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.
The Senate resolves, therefore, that as Minister of State for External Affairs he should be censured and considers that he should be removed from that office”.
– In a debate of this significance and scope, dealing with matters which have been considerably misrepresented from unofficial sources before official sources had the opportunity to present the true story, it is a little difficult to decide whether to attempt immediately to reply to the misrepresentations which have been repeated here this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), or, as one’s speech progresses, to attempt to reply to them one by one. Passing immediately to the main section of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, it is clear that at the moment the nub of this debate is not disarmament, not Communist China, but an attempt by the Opposition to censure the Prime Minister because of. the attitude that he took and takes in regard to the expulsion, or if not the expulsion, the definite removal under duress of South Africa from the British Commonwealth. I should have thought that the expressed opinion of the Prime Minister would normally have been regarded as the opinion of the Australian people and the closest this Parliament could ever come to a bi-partisan expression of opinion.
What, Sir, was the basis of the Prime Minister’s speeches and actions at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference? It was that he felt that the removal of one member of the Commonwealth, South Africa, in spite of Sharpeville and in spite of apartheid, weakened the Commonwealth of Nations and removed South Africa from an influence which might have helped to overcome apartheid in its extreme forms. That was his first worry. The second was that immediately a precedent is established by which the policies of one country attending the Prime Ministers’ Conference - which is quite different from the United Nations - are challenged and made the subject of censure and action by that conference, the policies of all countries are subject to such challenge and censure. A number of countries represented at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference could, on one ground or another, be the subject of censure now that, for the first time, a precedent for such censure has been established. I repeat that I should have thought the desire to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference was the closest we could come in this Parliament to a bi-partisan policy. I support that statement by reference to a speech made, after Sharpeville, by Mr. Calwell, on behalf of the Opposition, approximately a year ago. I regret that I have lost the place in this volume, but, in debating the events at Sharpeville, he said, in effect, “We of the Opposition have no sympathy with those who desire to see South Africa out of the Commonwealth of Nations. That would resolve no problems.”
– That is quite a different matter.
– Yet the Opposition objects to attempts to keep South Africa inside the Commonwealth of Nations.
– You are making a charge against the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
– I am stating that the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament said, in effect, “ We have no sympathy with those who desire to keep South Africa out of the Commonwealth of Nations. We believe that South Africa should stay in the Commonwealth of Nations, because removing her would solve nothing. She should stay inside the Commonwealth and she should develop a multi-racial policy which would work.”
In London the Prime Minister opposed the ejection of South Africa, which was quite in line with the policy of the Opposition. One of the grounds on which he opposed that ejection was that the attempt to evade a multi-racial society would not work and that if the attempt to pursue the policy of apartheid was persisted in and no attempt was made by South Africa to develop a multi-racial society, as the Prime Minister said in the speech he made at the Australia Club dinner, which was quoted partially by the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, we would find that the ultimate conflict would be bloody and devastating. The Prime Minister went to London and he opposed the removal of South Africa. He made it quite clear that he was one of the Prime Ministers who, in the communique which was sought to be issued, condemned South Africa’s policies. He made it quite clear that in his opinion a multi-racial society must be developed because otherwise there would be bloody and devastating conflict. Every point he made was in line with what the Leader of the Opposition, after Sharpeville, had said should be the policy of Australia. Yet now we find the Prime Minister being attacked for adopting that very policy and, if I may say so, being attacked to a great extent on grounds which owe their existence merely to misrepresentation and distortion of emphasis. We heard some of that this afternoon. It stems from reports in the newspapers of this country.
For instance, we were told that the only reason why the Prime Minister opposed apartheid was because it would not work. It must be clear to anybody who has studied the communiques, reports and results of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference that Dr. Verwoerd sought to convince that conference that his policy of apartheid would work. He sought, by means of figures which he produced, to show that his government was spending more on the coloured people in South Africa than any other free South African country, India or many other Asian countries were spending on their coloured people. He also sought to prove that his education system was better and that he was lifting up the coloured people. He put that forward as evidence to show that his policy of apartheid would work. That was his justification for it.
It was merely in direct repudiation and rebuttal of that specific argument that the Prime Minister, alone among the Prime Ministers, came out to say -
No matter how much you do in this direction and no matter how much you lift up the coloured population of your country, the more you succeed the more you are bound to fail because as you lift them up, so you make it less possible for them to accept the status of second-class citizens.
Alone among the Prime Ministers, he came out to repudiate and rebut the argument advanced by the Prime Minister of South Africa in support of his policy of apartheid. Because our Prime Minister opposed that policy and because he threw out the arguments of the Prime Minister of South Africa, we now hear him attacked as if that is the only ground he had for objecting to that policy. Indeed, in the very same speech in which he made that rebuttal of a specific argument he indicated that the South African policy would end in bloody disaster, revolution and violence.
In the same speech he also indicated that he was with those Prime Ministers who sought to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth, as the Opposition had said she should be kept in, but to criticize her policies. I would have thought that he sought to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth with perhaps some of the thoughts that Senator McKenna had in mind when he urged the admission of Communist China to the United Nations, namely that in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference South Africa could well be more subject to having the policy we abhor changed than if it was boycotted and thrown out. As has been pointed out, it is not just Dr. Verwoerd - however intransigent he may have been - or the Government, which for the moment he heads, that has been thrown out of the Commonwealth. The alternative government and all the people who support the present Opposition and alternative government of South Africa have been thrown out of the Commonwealth and thereby have seen their country boycotted.
Let us see what the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom instructed his delegate to the United Nations Political Committee to say in the debate held recently, which was referred to by Senator McKenna. The speech made by the British delegate in the beginning quotes the words of Mr. Macmillan - “ Boycotts will never get you anywhere.” Can any delegate here really name a boycott which got anybody anywhere - that is to say, anywhere where they wished to go? ls it really expected by any delegation that this resolution is likely to achieve something which such measures have never achieved before? I submit in all solemnity to my distinguished colleagues in this Committee that the result of these measures would be to injure those whom we are trying to help; to intensify the policies which we wish to ses altered: to assist the men who pursue them to maintain themselves in power; to disarm the liberally-minded minority who are our best hope; to add substantially to the sum of human misery in the world which we are supposed to be here to reduce; and for all of these reasons to brins the United Nations into ridicule and contempt.
That was the British view of boycotts as applied to South Africa. I submit that it is a reasonable view to put forward as to what will be the effect of this boycott by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference on the country of South Africa and all its inhabitants - not merely the Government.
I point out that it was not our Prime Minister alone who sought to keep South Africa inside the Commonwealth of Nations in spite of apartheid. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who was the chairman of the conference, made a report to the British Parliament after the conference. In that report he used a nicety of expression, which I would regard as being a very nice distinction, in which he said -
It became apparent to Dr. Verwoerd himself that he could not serve the Commonwealth or help its unity and coherence in any other way except by withdrawing his application.
In other words, the other members of the conference made it apparent to Dr. Verwoerd that he had to get out, which, in my view, comes very close to being pushed out. But communiques, which would express the greatest criticism of South Africa’s racial policies, were sought to be agreed upon at that conference with Mr. Macmillan in the chair. They were communiques which our Prime Minister took an active part in drafting. I emphasize that, in reply to the argument that has been put forward that he has never expressed criticism.
An adjournment was taken to try to persuade the Prime Minister of South Africa to accept a communique with that criticism in it. After the adjournment, the Prime Minister of South Africa accepted, or expressed his willingness to accept, a communique containing that criticism, and Mr. Macmillan announced the fact. That, of course, was known. 1 should have, thought that that was clearly a manifestation of the belief that it was better to have South Africa in than out, because if all that effort were expended when it was believed that it would be better to have South Africa out, it just would not make sense. In any case, clearly the report of the British Prime Minister to the United Kingdom Parliament indicated, to one man at least, that he had tried, as had our Prime Minister, to keep South Africa in. Mr. Gaitskell, the Leader of the Labour Opposition in that Parliament, stated -
If the Prime Minister tried, as I think he did from his words to-day. to keep South Africa in, and tried very hard, then I suppose that one must say that the policy failed.
It was not only our Prime Minister who tried to keep South Africa in and subject to pressures and to the acceptance of criticism; the British Prime Minister joined with our Prime Minister in seeking the outcome that we required and which, a year ago, the Leader of the Opposition in this country said that he required.
We are told that there was a legalistic approach at the United Nations. The first point that I wish to make is that the United Nations General Assembly is entirely different from a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. I shall not labour that point. We all know that that is so. A conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers is, or was, a meeting at which people with differences met in private to try to find points on which they could agree. They sought to avoid discussion of, and exacerbation of, points of difference. What such conferences will be if this precedent is developed, is a matter for judgment. The future will tell whether the judgment of the British Prime Minister or of our own Prime Minister on that matter is right. As I have said, the position of the General Assembly of the United Nations is different from that of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. The United Nations is subject to a constitution, to rules of parliamentary procedure and to all kinds of legalistic matters which are the very life blood of the passing of resolutions.
What was this legalistic approach we have been accused of making? The substance of it is that we said that paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter provides that the United Nations shall not interfere in a domestic matter. It is of the utmost significance to all small countries - not so much to the big ones, because they can protect themselves - that that section of the Charter should not be weakened. Those who are small in the councils of the world should not be open to have their electoral laws, or whatever it may be in the way of internal policy, subject to interference by the United Nations.
– The deprivation of human rights is a crime against humanity wherever it exists. It is not domestic at all.
– That is a matter of judgment on your part, Senator. The point I am making is that it is of the utmost significance to every small nation of the world that, so far as the United Nations is concerned, paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the Charter should not be weakened, and that the small nations should not be subject to interference in their internal affairs.
That particular point was taken, of course, by Great Britain. In this debate, an attempt has been made to create the impression that the point was taken only by Australia. Instead, it was taken by Great Britain and by many of the smaller countries. Because they saw the great significance of that point, they said: “ We reserve our position. In spite of the vote we are going to cast, we wish to emphasize that paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations is and must remain a protection. This is not to be a precedent.” If that is a legalistic approach, then it is an approach which seeks in advance to protect one’s own country from having its internal affairs looked at by the United Nations.
We are asked why it was that, at the United Nations at that time, our delegate did not condemn apartheid. All that the Leader of the Opposition read of what was said there was a statement that we neither supported nor condoned policies of racial discrimination. But before that we had said -
We have ,at issue here the clear disregard by the Union of South Africa of many previous strong expressions of the views of the General Assembly that the policy of apartheid is repugnant to Charter principles . . . The provisions concerning human rights are one of the most notable objectives set out in the Charter, and any failure in their observance wherever it may occur is indeed legitimately a matter for the concern of all. The Australian Government has stated that it feels a most serious disquiet at the racial policies which have been practised in South Africa, and that it deplores the results of the application of these policies, one tragic example being the events at Sharpeville last year.
Surely that is a fair enough statement of opinion on that matter. At least, I should have thought it was a statement which was not open to the criticism that no word against apartheid was uttered when the statement was presented.
– Words are no good now. You want action - sanctions.
– Senator O’Byrne has said that words are no good now, and that what is wanted are actions to bring them to heel.
– That is right.
– Precisely the means, I suppose, set out in a 24-nation resolution moved at the United Nations - the breaking off of diplomatic relations, the closing of our ports to their ships, and the placing of bans on their trade. That is what Senator O’Byrne says is wanted now, although that particular proposition, Sir, was opposed by a resolution sponsored not by white nations, but by nations such as Ceylon, India. Malaya, Afghanistan and Indonesia. Those nations would have none of the proposition now advanced by Senator O’Byrne. Obviously, they would have none of it because they knew, as we know, since we have sought to get the figures in this connexion, that if we were to impose sanctions or a ban on trade with South Africa, and on imports from that country, certain results would follow. We know that 90 per cent, of the commodities coming into this country from South Africa are either grown on land owned by the coloured population or made by the coloured population of that country. It seems a peculiar suggestion that we could help those people by cutting off their sources of livelihood or throwing them out of work. Quite clearly, that is why this resolution secured no support from countries like India and Ceylon and the others.
The next point which I wish to move on to is the suggestion that there was a clear equation by the Prime Minister between apartheid and the so-called white Australia policy. This is such a canard that it should scarcely require more than three sentences to dispose of it. Anybody who has read the speeches in question will see that what is equated is not apartheid or immigration policy. What is equated is an internally applied policy in any country, belonging to the Commonwealth, whether it be a policy of sheer dictatorship as applied in at least one member of the Commonwealth, whether it be a policy of discrimination between the races as is applied in another country of the Commonwealth, or whether it be a policy of immigration or whatever it might be. The equation was merely that once this thing began then there was no point or precedent at which it could be stopped.
We have been told that as a result of the actions taken during the last year, we have in some way alienated the opinion of South-East Asia, that we have in some way lost our South-East Asian friends, or at least have not gained friends in South-East Asia. May I say this for a beginning: I have never been, and I am not now, one of those who adopt the policy much beloved by some newspaper writers and some members of the Opposition of rolling over on one’s back like a puppy every time the word “ Asia “ is mentioned. Asia is not an entity; it is a collection of self-governing countries. There are as many points in dispute in the countries of Asia as there were, or are, in the countries of Europe. Since these countries reached the self-governing stage they have come to the United Nations or other international conferences. They come in our eyes, I thought, as equals. If they come as equals - and they do - then they come as people who are prepared to criticize and to be criticized in point of the arguments advanced. They do not come as people who must be agreed with or else they Will thoroughly dislike you. I believe it is insulting to them and to their intelligence to put forward a proposition that you must not argue against anything that an Asian country wants or it will dislike you - that you must not put forward a different point of view. I believe that we gain more respect among the countries to the north of us in Asia by putting a point of view we believe in than by doing what some members of the Opposition here and in another place do, that is, by asking India, for example, first what course she would follow and what course she would like us to follow before we decide what we are going to do. We have not done that and we do not propose to do it. In some cases we might well be wrong; in other cases when we do not follow India it is quite certain that India might be wrong, as all countries are sometimes wrong.
When one considers the position in which this country stands in relation to the countries of South-East Asia to-day and the position it stood in ten years ago, the accusations that we hear from the other side of the chamber that we have lost friends in Asia are completely laughable. It was ten years ago, Sir, that one of these countries - the Philippines - declared war on us in her lower House, not because of the application of the immigration policy of Australia, but because of the rude, ruthless and stupid application of the policy at that time by Mr. Calwell, now Leader of the Opposition in another place. After the Colombo Plan until we started it - students began coming here under that plan. They did not come here until this Government achieved office; they came after we started the plan in 1950. The previous Labour Government had four years between the end of the war and the time it relinquished office in which to start it. From the inception of the Colombo Plan our posts were flooded with students. They came in fear that they would be given a terrible time when they got to Australia - that they would be kicked off the pavement, that they would be treated as Mr. Calwell treated the wife of Sergeant Gamboa. Now, of course, we have 1,000 Colombo Plan and 10,000 Asian students altogether. Students who ;s decade ago came in fear now come in such great numbers that they could become an embarrassment because of the strain they put on our teaching institutions.
In the last decade, our relations with the countries to the north in Asia have been better than formerly. Not only have we brought students here, but all the projects which have been done under the Colombo Plan and other aid projects have been done under the regime of this Government. In the last ten years, we have opened diplomatic posts in countries where we did not have diplomatic posts before, such as Burma, Malaya and the three Indo-China states. We have increased the importance of our posts at Bangkok, Manila and Tokyo by raising them to embassy status. We have paid attention to getting into those posts people who could speak the languages of those countries, so that we have in Cambodia a man who speaks both Thai and French. We have two Chinese-speaking representatives in the countries to the north. We have about eight or nine people speaking Malay or Indonesian in countries to the north. And all the time the students who have come here to learn are returning to those countries to show the people - where it is necessary to be shown - how to maintain the projects we finance. All of these things, of course, are not necessarily repaid in friendship, but I have been round all these countries many times and 1 believe that these people know that the Australian Government is a friend and that Australian does not bow to every wind that blows but sticks to her friends. They know from the calibre of the people who go up there that the ordinary Australian is a good bloke. The argument that we lose friends in Asia by this means has been put forward for a long time. It was used when we sent troops to Malaya. We were told that India and Indonesia would hate us for doing so and that the other countries of South-East Asia would regard our action as aggression. I have seen no evidence that that is so, but even if they had so regarded us, I believe it would still have been right for this country, at the request of a friendly Asian country, to send troops to help it for as long - and only as long - as that country wanted those troops. What has been said by the Opposition is merely one more, example of the exaggerated claim that because India, particularly, does not like something, therefore all Asia does not like it.
I hope that the Senate will reject with contumely the amendment moved by the
Leader of the Opposition and demonstrate that it believes that the Prime Minister was serving the interests of this country when he sought to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth, subject to criticism. I hope, too, that honorable senators will show that they think the Prime Minister was right when he gave instructions for our representative to vote in the United Nations, condemning apartheid but refusing to agree to sanctions being applied to South Africa, and refusing to acknowledge that international peace was in danger. I hope also they will show that they believe the Prime Minister was right when, at the Seato council meeting, he and others with him made it clear that all peaceful methods of settling the Laos dispute would be sought, but if those methods were not successful then Seato would take action. Those matters, and many more, will, I hope, be dealt with by speakers who will support me later in the debate.
– The motion for the printing of this paper gives honorable senators the opportunity to discuss certain aspects of international affairs, especially the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and Presidents in London, lt also gives us an opportunity to discuss disarmament and the Loatian situation. I should like first of all to deal with the subject of disarmament. The statement made by the Prime Ministers should be approved by all parties and by all people who desire peace in the world.
The Prime Ministers asked for disarmament conferences to be held. I suppose such conferences are a necessity but we should realize by now that we are wasting a considerable amount of our time and energy in talking about disarmament with Communist countries. One aspect that should be borne in mind is that disarmament conferences lead to a certain amount of complacency. The people who desire them believe that something will be done, but they have been disillusioned in the past and are likely to be disillusioned in the future. During this period of complacency the enemies of democracy gain ground by stealth.
Senator McKenna quoted clause 5 of the statement of the Prime Ministers. He saw in that clause an opportunity for red China to be admitted to the United Nations and, I presume, to be recognized by this Government. He said that there can be no disarmament throughout the world unless red China is a member of the United Nations and is able to discuss disarmament with the other great powers of the world. To anybody who understands the Communist outlook, the presence of red China on the Security Council of the United Nations would be just another spur to Communist aggression, not a help to disarmament.
I cannot see any substance in the argument that it is necessary for red China to be present at a disarmament conference. Disarmament involves the reduction of instruments of war, whether conventional or nuclear. What part could red China play in such a conference? I admit that it has the man-power but does it produce even conventional weapons for its troops? Has red China a naval building programme? Virtually all China’s ships are supplied by other countries. Submarines are supplied by Russia, as are the fighter aircraft that fly over Quemoy. They are Russian fighters. Even China’s transport planes come from Russia. The aircraft that are carrying instruments of war into Laos at the present time are Russian built and are not made in China. Red China has no nuclear weapons and has no programme for developing nuclear weapons. I think the argument that of necessity China should be a member of a disarmament conference is completely wrong. I admit that it has the man-power, but in the final analysis it is conventional and nuclear weapons that must be dealt with at a disarmament conference. In no circumstances should we consider admitting red China to membership of the United Nations. This Government should never contemplate recognizing red China, because to do so would merely help the Communists in their drive to become the ruling body in the world.
Let me now turn to the position of South Africa. It would appear that there is some difference of opinion between Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Menzies as to the effect of South Africa’s departure from the Commonwealth of Nations. Mr. Macmillan has said that the Commonwealth of Nations will be in a much better position after the departure of South Africa. But Mr. Menzies has taken the opposite view. He has stated that South Africa’s departure will have a detrimental effect on the Commonwealth of Nations and could, in the long run, destroy the effectiveness of the meetings of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. On 22nd March last, during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, I gave my opinion on South Africa’s attitude. I stated that I believed Mr. Menzies to be right because there would in future be no opportunity to discuss South Africa’s policies with a view to having them changed. This will be a great loss because with a little help it is possible that South Africa’s policies might have been changed in the future.
A lot has been said about apartheid, but what does it mean? Apartheid is the subjugation of one class of people by another, lt is not necessarily a case of black versus white, although it is in South Africa. There you have white domination over the black people, who have been relegated almost to the position of slaves. South Africa has stated that the white and the black races can exist within the one country under her policies better than two similar classes of people can exist in some of the nations that have criticized South Africa. The black races are being helped to some extent, and they should be because it is they who supply labour. It is only right that their standards should be raised. The time may come when there will be some alleviation of the racial trouble in South Africa. Apartheid means the domination of one race of people by another race. We find the same thing happening in Malaya, but there it is a matter not of colour discrimination but of race discrimination. The apartheid being practised in Malaya is very similar to the apartheid being practised in South Africa.
– And in India, I suggest.
– I am dealing with one area at a time. In Malaya, the Malays are the dominant power, and they have taken measures to remain in that position. Dominated by them are the Chinese, who will shortly be the more populous race in Malaya. I am not criticising the Malays for their attitude. But although Malaya pursues a policy of apartheid, one of the greatest opponents of South Africa’s policy was the Tunku.
South Africa’s departure from the Commonwealth of Nations will be a sad loss. South Africa has always stood behind us in our hour of need. That is something that cannot be said of some other countries. In this day when the Communist countries and the non-Communist countries are fighting for the minds of men, we need the backing of a nation such as South Africa. At the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, when South Africa sought to continue as a member of the Commonwealth on becoming a republic, Cyprus applied for admission. There was no discussion at the conference, I presume, of what has happened in Cyprus in the last few years. Cyprus was accepted at once and took her place at the table, and I suppose, although I am not sure on the point, that she sat in judgment on South Africa. Yet within Cyprus there is a certain amount of apartheid. Most people think that apartheid relates to the difference in the colour of men’s skins, but that is not necessarily so. In Cyprus you have the Cypriot majority and the Turkish minority. There is a good deal of contention as to who will become the ruling power on that small island.
I commend Mr. Menzies for trying to keep South Africa within the Commonwealth of Nations. It has been suggested that Mr. Menzies did not say enough about apartheid, and did not obtain as much commendation as possible from the African and Asian countries. I do not think those comments have much bearing on the matter, because members of all Australian parties have spoken against, and have shown their repugnance of, the apartheid theory. It is very easy for us to do so, because we have not anything like the problem that South Africa has. Not even America has anything like the same subjects to deal with as has the South African Government. I repeat that it is quite easy for us to offer our criticism of South Africa’s theories. We do not believe in them. But if the British Commonwealth of Nations as we know it is to remain in existence and be of the same value as it is now, I believe it is wrong to do as was done in the case of South Africa - to throw the country concerned out of the British Commonwealth.
Almost every member of the British Commonwealth has a skeleton in its own cupboard. Now that the precedent of discussing internal problems has been established, similar discussions can be had at every meeting of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers. In the not too distant future Australia could come in for a lot of undeserved criticism. One. of those who meets with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers is Nkrumah of Ghana. He is a dictator. All those who are opposed to him are in gaol. I am very pleased that the same thing is not done in Australia! He has a worse policy of apartheid in his own country in relation to the northern tribes and the people Who live towards the. coast than has South Africa, and he is dealing more stringently with them than South Africa is dealing with her natives. He, under great influence from Moscow, could raise at these meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers Australia’s work in New Guinea. We are doing a marvellous job in that area and I should Say that over the years we will come to an understanding with the people; but Nkrumah could raise our work in New Guinea and advance many arguments against what we have done, because- it must be remembered that we are not perfect. So we could find in the not too distant future Mr. Menzies stepping out of the British Commonwealth of Nations. He himself said, “ I may have been out myself before Dr. Verwoerd if I had been subjected to the same treatment “. Because of outside, influences, Ghana is a very weak link in the British Commonwealth. Nkrumah- could become a little dictator not only in his own country but also in that part of Africa in which Ghana is situated. So we could consider the position of every member of the British Commonwealth and find a- skeleton- in the cupboard of each. I referred to that matter on 22nd March, so I shall not do so in detail again to-day.
When we try to decide, whether Mr. Macmillan or Mr. Menzies was right, I am very much inclined to think that Mr. Menzies was on the right track. It may be that Mr. Macmillan could not do much other than he did. To a certain degree Mr. Macmillan has, or may have before long, the Same problem in England as exists in South Africa. We know that British subjects in the West” Indies have the right” to go- and live ih> England. When we recall that our own natives of Papua’ are Australian citizens but that they are not allowed to settle in Australia, could not we be faced with a similar problem? If some one raised that matter and protested about our attitude, would he not have to be supported by Mr. Macmillan, who adopts in relation to the West Indians an attitude different from that which we adopt toward the Papuans? I am directing attention to these possibilities in an effort to point out the dangers that have arisen as a result of the attitudes which have been adopted at this recent meeting of the British Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
I note that the amendment proposed by the Opposition is couched iri terms which are critical of what happened at that conference. I say that Mr. Menzies adopted the correct attitude. The second part of the amendment raises the question as to whether Mr. Menzies should be the Minister for External Affairs. That, of course, is a matter of opinion. If I were to be given an opportunity to- say who should be the Minister for External Affairs-I do not suppose I shall have the opportunity - I would not vote for Mr. Menzies.
– Who do you reckon would be the best person to appoint to that office?
– If I were to have ihe right of choice, I would appoint the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). But that is beside the point, because I shall not have that opportunity. If supporters of the Government or members of the Cabinet decide that Mr. Menzies is the best person to administer that portfolio, dr if he so decides himself, there is nothing we can do about it.
I believe I Have made myself very clear in relation to the position iri South Africa. We definitely are opposed to the policy of apartheid. But more important than what has happened in relation to South Africa is what happened at the Seato conference. So far this matter has not been mentioned by the Opposition. In relation to Australia’s standing in the eyes of the Asian countries, the Seato conference has been the most important meeting of all.
– -Did you read what Mr. Santamaria said- about it?
– -No, I did not. I shall have to read it. This area’ is” vital to the welfare of Australia. Laos has been likened to a pistol with the barrel pointing to Australia, and that is what it is. The manner in which we emerge from the rebellion in Laos will decide Australia’s future in SouthEast Asia. The Prime Minister’s participation in the Seato conference was very important. Unless we get some settlement in that area in the not far distant future, Australia will be in grave danger. Mr. Menzies also spoke with President Kennedy. I believe that American feeling in the Seato area is hardening and I assume that that hardening has been brought about to a certain extent by the talks between Mr. Menzies and Mr. Kennedy.
The Prime Minister’s statement last night indicates - the newspapers have assumed this - that we are prepared to fulfil our commitments under Seato in relation to the Laotian affair. Unless we show firmness in this area now and allay the fears of Thailand, the Philippines and, it may be, of Cambodia, it will not be many years before those countries are put in a position similar to that of Laos. Then all our influence in South-East Asia will be gone. So I say that the discussions at the Seato conference were just as important as any others. They were directed to bringing about a neutral state in Laos, free from Communist influence. I hope that that will be done as a result of that meeting and of the hardening feeling against aggression there by the Russians and the North Vietnamese. As honorable senators know Russian Ilyushin aircraft are making about 40 trips a day, rushing in hundreds of tons of war material to the rebels on the plain of Jarres. Unless we make it clear that we shall interfere if the Communists start to destroy the present Laotian Government, the Communists will take over within a few days and Communist influence will extend right to the Mekong River. Whoever controls the Mekong valley controls the whole country.
This motion gives us an opportunity to say a few words on these various subjects. We are not discussing the South African affair in a completely satisfactory manner. A little emotionalism has been brought into the debate, in addition, of course, to quite a deal of politics, but it is important that these matters be discussed. We have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the printing of the paper.
– Because of the limitation of time I propose to restrict my contribution to this debate to some remarks about the events surrounding South Africa’s withdrawal from the British Commonwealth of Nations. What I have to say might be clarified if I start by expressing my personal opinion that South Africa’s exclusion from the Commonwealth of Nations is an event of more far-reaching significance than the condemnatory resolution of the United Nations. These are great matters, upon which opinions may be wrong, but I hold the view that the more important of these two events is South Africa’s exclusion from the Commonwealth. I hope to develop this theme as I go along. At this stage I content myself with giving brief reasons for my view. I believe that the Commonwealth of Nations is the strongest moral force in the world; that South Africa’s continued association with it would have strengthened it, for the good of all peoples, and that South Africa, if it had continued to be a member, would have been more receptive as time went on to the views of sister members of the Commonwealth than it will be now, because the United Nations resolution may cause it to remain defiant of world opinion. That is the view that I hold.
I do not pretend to be an expert upon the South African situation, but it is of such great international consequence that it has occupied my thoughts and caused me to read up on it. I suppose that this has been the case with every other senator. I have assembled some facts and figures which I believe to be correct and which I propose to mention, because I do not think we get an effective background to a consideration of all the problems involved without an appreciation of these circumstances. South Africa has a population of some 14,000,000 people, 3,000,000 being white and 11,000,000 being non-white. Putting the position in that way is to oversimplify it, because the Bantu people are divided into many tribes. No fewer than ^5 Bantu tribes constitute the 2,000,000 Bantu people who are now living on the gold-mining reef area of South Africa. Not ali of those Bantu people are South
African citizens. Many come from Portuguese East Africa, British protectorates, Rhodesia and other surrounding countries. The white population of South Africa is of British, French and Dutch descent. Those are the three main strains running through the white population. Superimposed on that is a large Indian population. Then there is a large population - I believe approximately 1,000,000 - of Cape coloureds who are descendants of mixed races.
In any consideration of this problem we can fairly start on the basis that there is no other country in the world with such a difficult racial problem to overcome. Some of the Afrikaanders even regard English-speaking people in South Africa as foreigners. The information that I have gathered together classifies the Bantu people in this way: Approximately 4,250,000 of them live on reserves that have been set aside for them; 3,000,000 of them work on farms; and 3,000,000 of them work in industry, commerce, transport and mining. Their average income is less than £14 per month per household, not per head. These 11,000,000 people still carry with them all their tribal differences, hatreds and arguments of the past. I believe it is correct that the majority of the disturbances that occur in South Africa, and of which we read, arise from these racial differences between the Bantu tribes themselves and not between the Bantu people and the whites.
There is the further complication that the Indian population and the Bantu people do not mix but separate themselves from each other on religious and social grounds and by virtue of their residences. The Cape coloureds are not accepted by the Bantu people or by the white folk. The 1 1 ,000,000 Bantu people in the Union of South Africa collectively pay only about £4,000,000 per annum in taxation. Their birth-rate of 47 per 1,000 per annum far exceeds that of any other group. They are becoming an increasing proportion of the population not only because of natural increase but also because large numbers of them are still streaming into South Africa from the neighbouring States of the continent, lt is said that more than 30,000 Bantu people illegally enter Johannesburg from neighbouring countries each year.
Sometimes they pay as much as £50 for the forged pass that gets them into Johannesburg. The geographical boundaries of South Africa are so great that it is a practical impossibility to maintain the status of the population. Those who control the administration say that one of the great problems is to control the influx of people from neighbouring countries, who are attracted to South Africa because of the higher standards available in South Africa than in the neighbouring countries. That is evidenced by the homes, health services and the possibilities of education that are available.
The policy of apartheid, which we all condemn, is the policy not only of the South African Government but also, I understand, of the Opposition party in the South African Parliament. It has a long history of being the policy of previous governments in South Africa. Those who advocate apartheid say that its objective is to increase the living standards of the Bantu people and to bring them to the stage at which they themselves come to selfgovernment. That is a great objective. But we say that great as the objective may be it falls so far short in administration and practice as to cause us concern. One of the difficulties that I experience in my attempt to summarize the situation is that I find not only things of which I cannot approve but also things which I cannot understand. I cannot understand how a government could allow such maladministration as that which led to the Sharpeville incident. I cannot follow the episodes that come out of South Africa. I cannot understand how any government can adopt a policy of refusing to accredit a diplomatic representative from another country merely because of the colour of his skin.
– Was that always your thought?
– I have always thought that.
– You were pretty silent on it.
– I have not spoken on this matter before. I am told that the Bantu people have no great desire for integration; they like their own ways better. They practise their own forms of separation between their various tribes; they do not mix with the Cape coloureds and they do not associate with the Asiatic population. I do not know whether or not this is correct, but I believe it to1 be true that it is not the principle of apartheid to which the Bantu people object but the injustices and the inhumanity With which that policy is administered.
But above all other things, as is natural, the economic problem - the task of earning sufficient on which to live1 - is the basic problem of South Africa’s big population. We may well say that this policy should be criticized because it has not produced better results than have been achieved up to the present time. However, we have to admit that it seems to attract the people of neigh-, bouring countries into South Africa where they are able to live under better conditions than in their own habitations. We have to deal with the situation as it is now. 1 have given that recital, although, as I have said, 1 do not pretend to be an expert.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, Mr. President, i had been describing conditions in South Africa and the great difficulties experienced in that country because of the mixture of races to be found there. I think it is necessary to have that background to a consideration of the problem that we are now discussing, but unfortunately 1 shall not have time to recapitulate what I have already said. I want to turn to a consideration of the problem itself. As I see it, the matter is in two parts. The first involves a consideration of Australia’s position and its attitude as a member of the British Commonwealth, and the second1 part is concerned with Australia’s position and responsibilities as a member of the United Nations Organization. Those are the matters of substance that we are considering. It is on those matters of substance that I advance the view that the Australian Prime Minister has taken the correct stand for Australia.
In examining the position, I turn first to look at Australia’s position as a member of the British Commonwealth. The great thing that emerges from an examination of the events of recent times is the fact that the Prime Minister made, every effortto keep South Africa within the British
Commonwealth. I believe, Mr. President,, that every thinking Australian supports that approach to the matter. I remind the Senate that a similar sentiment was expressed on* both- sides of this- chamber, and also in the other place, when the news came through that South Africa had withdrawn from the Commonwealth. All. political parties expressed regret at that event, lt has been only during the course of this debate that the Australian Labour Party has expressed a contrary view.
The great principle that is involved is whether the domestic policies of individual members of the Commonwealth should be subject to review in discussions at the Commonwealth level. There surely will be grave consequences for all members of the Commonwealth if they support the principle that domestic policies of individual members are to be subject to review. Take the Australian position. Would we in this Parliament willingly agree to a review, by a conference of Prime Ministers, of a policy decided upon by a democratically elected Australian government? I do not think there would be any dissentients from the view that such a course would be unthinkable to us as Austraiian parliamentarians. We have to approach this problem on the basis that we, as an Australian government, have expressed the strongest condemnation of the policy of apartheid in South Africa, but at the same time, we have to remember that that has been the policy of South Africa, not only under the present government, but also under governments for generations back.
If I may look at the matter from the Australian point of view, it seems to me that there are in this country policies which are distinctly Australian in character. It is not Overstating the position to say that if this new principle is extended, the possibility is not remote that matters which are of great moment to us could be examined, discussed and vetoed. So. when we put personalities on one side and also nut aside party politics, T think it will be agreed that the Australian Prime Minister, in standing for the principle that domestic policies are the responsibility of each separate country within the Commonwealth, was in the front line fighting in Australia’s interests. Senator Kennelly is attempting to interject, t like interjections, but because I have only ten minutes iri which to speak, I do not propose to reply to them to-night.
I know that feelings have run high in some countries of the Commonwealth on this great issue of apartheid, but I am convinced that no offence would be taken by our sister countries within the Commonwealth because our Australian Prime Minister had stood firm on what we might call, in short terms, domestic sovereignty. I believe that the Commonwealth as a whole is one of the most powerful influences for good in this troubled world. I also believe that it has been weakened by South Africa’s withdrawal. I have heard it said -it has been said in debate - that the principle of domestic sovereignty was not infringed because South Africa had agreed to a discussion on this matter at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. That overstates the position. South Africa did not initiate the discussion, nor did it want such a discussion. It would have been quite happy to have its application dealt with without apartheid being discussed.
We have the Prime Minister’s description of what happened. We have his word that the stage had been reached at which the final communique had been agreed upon. The British and Australian Prime Ministers believed that, as a result of that agreement, South Africa would remain within the Commonwealth. Then, after the final communique had been agreed upon, requests were made for further additions to the effect that South Africa’s policy was not compatible with membership of the Commonwealth. In the result, it became quite evident that, despite all the negotiations that had occurred, and despite the agreement that had been reached, a substantial proportion of Prime Ministers wanted South Africa out. Dr. Verwoerd withdrew his application. Technically, he was not forced out, but for all practical purposes he was. History was being made. For the first time, a member of the British Commonwealth was being forced out because of the internal policy of that country. In this debate, members of the Opposition have approved that action. I say that, so far as I arid other honorable senators on this side of the Senate are concerned, we stand right behind the Aus tralian Prime Minister, because we believe that a very dangerous precedent indeed has been established for future discussions of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
I turn to the allegations of disagreement between our Prime Minister and the British Prime Minister. My attitude in this respect can be quite simply stated. I am now fortunate enough to have worked under R. G. Menzies for some years. I say that his greatest attribute is his intellectual honesty. He is not capable of putting a situation falsely. It is not in his character to refrain from expressing his views when a great matter of principle is involved. That is evidenced by the statement on which this debate is based, perhaps one of the most important statements ever to come before the Australian Parliament. He has come out into the open and stated his views. He has repeated what he said previously. He has stated where he said it, and the occasion on which he said it. He has replied to the criticisms that have been made of the views that he has expressed. For my part, I accept his statement - his version - of what happened without any reservation at all.
On the question of our relationships within the Commonwealth of Nations, may I remind the Senate that it is not so much the governments but the people of the various countries that go to make up the Commonwealth. Governments come and governments go, and policies change; it is the peoples of the separate nations that remain and constitute the Commonwealth of Nations. 1 see the gravest danger indeed if we degenerate into a situation in which within the high councils of the Commonwealth we criticize, comment upon and examine the policies of the governments which for the time being represent the various peoples concerned. In the discussion at the Prime Ministers’ Conference which led to South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Nations, two things are clear to me. The first is that the strength of the Commonwealth has been weakened by South Africa’s withdrawal: the second is that there are grave dangers inherent in the manner in which South Africa withdrew, being, in effect, forced to do so by other members.
I want now to turn to the position within the United Nations, and I repeat what T said before, that it is the responsibility of an of us to keep the peoples of the Commonwealth together in the Commonwealth of Nations. That is not one bit inconsistent with recording criticism or dissent within the United Nations of the policy of a government representing those people. On the last occasion when a similar resolution to this was before the United Nations Organization we abstained from voting, whereas the British Government recorded a vote against a proposal of this kind. On this occasion we have voted for it, as has Great Britain, so that our change of attitude has not been as great as that of Great Britain. Yet I have heard criticism of our change of attitude but no criticism of the British Government’s change. It needs to be remembered that great care must be taken in the consideration of each particular resolution. The imposition of sanctions on South Africa would in my opinion have one great effect in that the poor people of South Africa would feel the impact of any fall of national prosperity. If we imposed sanctions and took economic action against South Africa we would be, in effect, taking action against the section of the community with whom our sympathy lies. 1 make this further point on what we are aiming to do. South Africa has disregarded previous United Nations resolutions, so surely our objective must be to express our criticism but at the same time avoid if possible reaching a situation in which South Africa is made more obdurate and more determined to continue its policy in isolation. I should like to remind the Senate of the terms of one of the resolutions that was before last week’s meeting of the United Nations. It contained provisos which called for a boycott of all South African goods, and it called for the closing of ports to ships flying the South African flag. I repeat that giving effect to those proposals would have had an adverse affect upon the least prosperous section of the African population. We supported a more moderate proposal - one that was not in very strong terms, saying that we did not support the policy of apartheid - in the hope that this expression of world opinion would influence a change or a moderation of South Africa’s policy. For my part, I see no conflict in a discussion aimed at keeping together the peoples of Common wealth countries within the Commonwealth of Nations and at the same time supporting a resolution on an international plane condemning a particular policy of a particular government. All these things were done by Mr. Menzies, as the Prime Minister of Australia, with the support of the Australian Government, and I think that events will show that they have the support of this Australian Parliament.
.- Mr. President, the Senate is now discussing a statement that was made last night in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) after his return from an overseas visit. We are also discussing a motion that was moved in the Senate this afternoon. I shall read it so that the listening audience will know what the discussion is about. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin had moved “That the paper be printed “ - that is, the Prime Minister’s statement. The amendment moved from this side reads -
Leave out all words after “That” and insert - “ in the opinion of this Senate, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people. The Senate resolves, therefore, that the Minister of State for External Affairs should be censured and considers that he should be removed from that office “.
There is one very important feature of this motion. We on this side of the chamber say that the statements made by the Prime Minister do not represent the views of the Australian public. In order to show the views that were expressed by the Prime Minister, it is necessary for me to make a brief survey of what happened, because what actually happened is not clear in the mind of any honorable senator at the present time; it is certainly not clear in the minds of senators on the Government benches. I shall construct an edifice, as it were, so that we can follow exactly what transpired overseas.
I feel sure that we would agree on certain points. We all know that the Prime Minister went to the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers that was held in London. On that point we are all agreed.
We also know that the Prime Minister of South Africa attended that conference, and we are satisfied that the Prime Ministers of other countries similarly attended the conference. We agree, too, that the question of apartheid was discussed at the conference, and we are satisfied - at this juncture, anyhow - that the Union of South Africa, which was represented at the conference by the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, is no longer a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. We are satisfied about those points. What are we disputing? What are we at loggerheads with the Government about? Let me again refer to the wording of our motion. We say that - in the opinion of this Senate, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth-
These are serious charges that are made against the Prime Minister and the Government - and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people . . .
After the Union of South Africa decided to quit the British Commonwealth of Nations, 1 say that it was the duty of Australia’s Prime Minister to return to this country in due course and make his statements to this Parliament. If that had been done, this amendment would not be under consideration to-night. But where did the Prime Minister make the statements to which we object? I understand he made them in a dining room in a place in London. They were reported by the London press and published in newspapers here. The reports were accepted as being correct. As we all know, under the rules of evidence it is what a person says at a particular time which is important afterwards when the matter is under discussion. I have not read anywhere a denial by the Prime Minister of the reports of the statements he made in London. His statements were made after the conference had been completed and the Union of South Africa had left the Commonwealth of Nations. If it is true that the Prime Minister did make the statements that the newspapers allege he made, then this amendment must be supported by every honorable senator. The statements are very serious indeed, because they involve Australia in a way in which we do not wish to be involved at the piesent time.
Several things have been said about the Commonwealth of Nations - about what it is, what it represents and what will be the loss to Australia because of the decision of South Africa to withdraw. If I were to walk down a street in Canberra to-day and ask a typical citizen what benefit he was deriving from the Commonwealth of Nations and what benefit Australia was deriving from the Commonwealth of Nations, he would not be able to tell me. I am doubtful whether any member of this Parliament could readily inform me of the benefits which accrue to Australia because of the Commonwealth of Nations. What is it? Is it not only a bond1 of friendship between certain nations - a bond holding together a small family of nations within a much larger family of nations?
– It is a bond of friendship.
– It is a bond of friendship, nothing more. With South Africa’s withdrawal there is one friend less. If all the nations of the Commonwealth had endorsed1 this policy of apartheid and allowed South Africa to continue on her merry way, that would have done far more injury to Australia and to the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations than what has happened. This is 1961. In a moment or two I shall tell the Senate what nations have gained independence since 1945. Some of those nations were represented at this meeting of Prime Ministers and are members of the Commonwealth of Nations at the present time. Their representatives discussed this question.
I wish to deal with the statements made by the Prime Minister. I have not got them in verbatim form but I have what he has been reported to have said. During a discussion in London, at which he was present, it was stated that apartheid as operated in South Africa was similar to the white Australia policy as applied here.
– The Prime Minister did not say that.
– The honorable senator says that the Prime Minister did not say that, but I have not seen it denied officially.
If it is suggested that that was not said, 1 take it that those honorable senators opposite who follow me to-night will give a denial on behalf of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was also present at the conference, but he returned to Malaya before he made any statement about what transpired at the conference. He did not speak about it to an audience in London or in any country other than his own. He returned to his homeland and there he made a statement. He is supposed to have said then that at the conference the Australian Prime Minister confused the white Australia policy with apartheid. He is reported as having said also-
One is for the protection of Australians, the other is for the repression of Africans and Asians within South Africa. The white Australia policy, as it is called, is not racial discrimination. In Australia, Asians, including Malayan students, are treated properly, decently and on their merits.
That is an independent opinion. It is not the opinion of a member of the Australian Labour Party. If a comparison was made of the white Australia policy as it operates here and apartheid as it applies in, South Africa, and if the Prime Minister found any similarity between the two and expressed an opinion to that effect, then every word in the amendment that we have moved is justified.
I move on. We have big nations in the Commonwealth of Nations. Their populations far exceed that of South Africa. 1* think there is in the Senate at the present’ time a little confusion as to which nations comprise the Commonwealth of Nations. If any honorable senators have information on this matter, they can check their lists with that which I am about to read. There is the United Kingdom and her dependencies. I am sure that every member of the Senate knows the dependencies of the United Kingdom. Then there are Aus-* tralia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, Malaya, Rhodesia and Nyasaland. If any honorable senator wishes to add a name to that list, I will be happy to include, if. Those- are’ the members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The nations in that list which have been granted independence since 1945 are India, Ceylon, Pakistan, Ghana, Malaya, Nyasaland and Rhodesia. The total population of the member nations df the Commonwealth of Nations- is 660,000,000.
I propose, Mr. President, to give the Senate some information about the countries which have’ been granted independence since 1945, because it is an important feature’ of this discussion. As I mention each country I ask honorable senators to note where it is located, its population and the colour of that population. I ask honorable senators to do that because several countries have made a strong demand for independence. South- Africa has a population of 3,000,000 white people and 11,000.000 coloured and black people. I distinguish between the coloured and black people in the Union of South Africa. You have a lop-sided situation there so far as government is concerned. Is it not natural for the coloured population of the Union of South Africa to wish for independence in their country when they, know that other countries in Africa have been granted independence? I do not think that anybody, knowing the way in which apartheid has been practised in South Africa over theyears, would claim that the governments of South Africa have paid any regard to the welfare- of the natives. In South Africa coloured people have the worst food, the worst clothing, the worst housing, the worst medical facilities, the worst educational opportunities and the worst laws possible. Does anybody doubt that there is an earnest clamour by all coloured people in South Africa for independence if the alternative is that they and their children will be forced to endure throughout their lives conditions that exist at present? Things might be different if the coloured people had a say in the policies of the government, but at present 3,000,000 white people - a mere handful - are responsible for the conditions under which the coloured people live.
Since 1949, a- great many countries have been granted independence. India was granted independence in 1947. Her population last year was 380,000,000. She is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and she sat in on. the discussions in London. India was represented at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, when South Africa’s apartheid policy was< discussed. Is it to be claimed that- India- was one of the countries that helped to drive South Africa out of- the Commonwealth of Nations? When- considering this matter it is pertinent, to consider the alternatives of having South Africa within, the Commonwealth of Nations and India excluded, and the exclusion of South Africa but the inclusion of India.
It is important to remember that many of the countries that have1 been granted independence in the last fifteen or sixteen years are’ members of the United Nations. In that forum they record their votes. They have been granted loans through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In India, and some other countries almost the entire population lives in a state of permanent starvation. Pakistan is another country that has been granted independence. She has a population of 80,000,000. Burma has a population of 20,000,000. Cambodia, with a population of 4,500,000, was granted independence in 1953. Ceylon- was granted independence in 1948. She has a population of 9,000.000. Laos is at present enjoying independence, whatever value she may place upon it. How long she will remain independent is something that I may have an opportunity to deal with later in my remarks. Laos has a population of 2,500,000. Libya has a population of 1,000,000. The Sudan has a population of 10,000,000. Morocco has a population of 10,000,000. Tunisia has a population of 3,500,000. Ghana has a population of 4,500,000. Guinea has a population o£ 2,500,000. Senegal has a population of 2,300,000. The Republic of Mali has a population, of 3,700,000. Cameroun has a population of 3,300.000, and was granted independence in I960: Togo has a population- of 1,000;000. The Malagasy Republic was granted independence in I960, and has a population of 5,000,000. The Republic of Somalia has a population- of 1,300,000. Dahomey has a population of 1,700,000. Niger has a population of 2,500,000. The Upper Volta has a population of 3,500,000. The Ivory Coast has a population of 3,100,000, and Chad has a population of 2,500,000. The Central African Republic has a population of 1,200,000, the Republic of Congo (Belgian) has a population of 13,500.000, and the Congo Republic has a population of 794,000. Gabon has a population of 420,000, and Nigeria a population of 35,000,000. The population of Israel is 2,000,000, that of ‘Malaya 6,000,000, and that of Viet Nam 12,500;000. North Viet Nam, which was granted independence in- 1954, has a population of 13,500,000. Singapore has a population of 1,300,000. The Philippines has a population of 24,000,000. Indonesia has a population of between 80,000,000’ and 90,000,000. Cyprus was granted independence in 1960, and has a population of 500,000. Jordan, which was granted independence in 1946, has a population of 1,500,000.
Some of the countries to which I referred were dependencies of the United Kingdom before they were granted independence, and they have some knowledge of British administration. They have some knowledge of British culture’. Is it any wonder that they place great value on their independence? One can readily understand the native population of South Africa squirming under the treatment that it has received over the years from the South African Government. If the native peoples of South Africa communicate their grievances to the other countries within Africa we may expect those other countries to say something about the situation in South Africa - something that may relieve the native peoples of South Africa from the evil of apartheid as it is practised by the South African Government. When the issue was raised at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, naturally those other countries, in sympathy with their coloured friends in the Union of South Africa, did all that they could to make the South African Government change its racial, policy.
Let us for a moment look at that policy. The’ policy is not new so far as South Africa is concerned. It was not established by the present Prime Minister of South Africa. It was established some years ago and has been improved, from the government’s point of view, and worsened from the point of view of the coloured people. It must be obvious to all honorable senators that for Dr. Verwoerd and the white population of South Africa it is a case of apartheid or nothing. The white population must accept apartheid or leave the country. White South Africans cannot change the policy nor can they improve it. Too much evil has been done over the years to make any correction possible now. Nothing can be done until the natives of South Africa fake appropriate action - action along the lines taken by the” peoples of India and Pakistan to establish orderly government. That is probably an ideal that the native peoples of South Africa cherish.
I would like to say a few words now about Laos. We know that there has been a clash of views between certain countries over what is happening in Laos to-day, and we know that there is a probability of conventional warfare breaking out there at any time. One would regret that, but the machinery which exists to-day, especially in the United Nations, for dealing with such outbreaks is sufficient to enable them to be settled. I have not the slightest doubt that if hostilities did break out a United Nations army would be sent to Laos to deal with the situation.
Now I come nearer home. It is only during the last week that new legislative chambers have been opened in West New Guinea and in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Dutch Government opened a new legislative council at Hollandia, and I understand that a reconstituted legislative council is now operating at Port Moresby. In my opinion, legislative councils are tasteless morsels of responsible government. But the establishment of such bodies is a step towards selfgovernment and more responsible government. Under the present arrangement, the Australian Government has the right of veto in relation to Papua and New Guinea. Therefore, it is the Government that is allowing the natives to do something. I can recall that some years ago, when legislation to extend the franchise in New Guinea was being considered by the Senate, I especially asked that the natives be given greater representation. It is only by their being given greater representation in the Legislative Council that they will be able to acquire knowledge that will permit them to act as responsible legislators. Moreover, quite recently I made the request that more natives be trained and admitted to the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea, especially to the Treasury, so they could acquire the knowledge that is essential in all countries for public administration.
Under the Colombo Plan we are bringing natives of Malaya, the Philippines and other countries to our universities. I wholeheartedly endorse that scheme, but as I stand here in my place I want to know why we are not bringing natives from, Papua and New Guinea to our Australian universities. Do we not intend to afford them an opportunity to become possessed of a university education rn the way that other peoples are being assisted under the Colombo Plan? We must provide such forms of assistance. We cannot always remain in a paternal position in relation to the natives of Papua and New Guinea.
I return to the chief matter at issue in this debate. The average Australian citizen is not greatly perturbed about the loss of South Africa from the British Commonwealth of Nations. He has weighed this matter and, as Senator Spooner said this afternoon, he believes that it is not governments but the people themselves who count We may enjoy the benefit of trade agreements with South Africa, but those agreements may be terminated as a result of South Africa’s leaving the British Commonwealth. However, South Africa will look after herself. There is no need for us to have any sympathy for her. She will be able to enter into trade agreements with West Germany, which requires her raw materials. Probably she will do better economically outside the British Commonwealth than she has done as a member of it. The average citizen of Australia does not approve of apartheid; he is wholeheartedly opposed to it. But he is wondering why South Africa left the Commonwealth, because over the years she seemed to value her membership. As I said a while ago, one of the matters that has to be weighed in considering this subject is the number of countries that have been granted independence since 1945. Whether the peoples of those countries are white or coloured, they are a force in the world. Their voices will be heard and the effect of their votes will be felt when such matters are discussed in the United Nations.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke last night, he did not speak merely for himself. There has been a great deal of publicity, agitation, stories in the press and something from the Opposition aimed at giving the impression that the Prime Minister does not worry much about parties or anything else but that he is a law unto himself. The first point to be made is that last night the Prime Minister spoke for the Cabinet and the two Government parties. That is something which every one should recognize. The Prime Minister had two big tasks to perform when he went overseas. When he went to London he had the idea that he must keep South Africa within the British Commonwealth. That, 1 believe, was important. South Africa does not consist merely of the government led by Dr. Verwoerd. South Africa is a nation. J know the history of that nation. The Dutch commenced activities in that country, and then the British came in. At the end of the last century there was a war between the Dutch and the British and the British won. After that war we set up what 1 believe was a new and very great experiment in selfgovernment.
There is a lot of talk about displaying tolerance towards other people. My first lesson in tolerance was given by my grandmother, who was the only person 1 have ever known to be without any fault or flaw. 1 can recall that soon after the end of the Dutch war 1 made some remarks about “ old Kruger “. My grandmother was one of those persons who had suffered the insult of being described as pro-Boer. She said to me very simply, “ President Kruger is a great and good man “. As I said, that was my first lesson in tolerance. 1 have followed the whole history of what has happened since then. The British crushed the Boers and could have done what they liked with them, but there happened to be in Great Britain at that time a very great statesman, Campbell-Bannerman. He said to the Cabinet, “ We will let these Boers govern themselves “. That was done. Then we had Smuts and a long succession of Boer statesmen, anu South Africa became a nation.
Its problems are very different from ours. Senator Spooner has given the figures showing the problems it has to face. Do not let us be hypocrites. We can all get up and by hypocrisy make ourselves appear big in the eyes of other people. Two thousand years ago, two gentlemen went into a temple to pray. One of them said, “ I thank the Lord that I am not as other men are”. That is not the attitude from which we should face these problems. South Africa’s problems are, ultimately, completely different from any that we have to face. We have our marginal problems. We have our aborigines, and we have not dealt too kindly with them. We have our migration problems. But these, comparatively, are nothing. The Dutch in South Africa have terrific problems to face. I am not with them; 1 think that they are quite wrong. I think the whole policy of apartheid is absolutely and completely wrong.
We have to consider how our Prime Minister has faced this matter. 1 think that he has faced it very well. He went to the club - call it what you like - of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London and h. said, “ We are not going to deal with this on the level of putting these fellows completely out. We will say to them, ‘ We think that your attitude is wrong ‘.” ls that not the attitude that any one of us would take, if we could meet the problem in a club atmosphere? Differences of opinion have arisen between the Australian Prime Minister and Mr. Macmillan, the Prime Minister of Great Britain. I am amazed to find Australian citizens who think that because those differences have arisen the Prime Minister of Australia necessarily is wrong and the Prime Minister of Great Britain i« right. This is something that only time can work out. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister of Great Britain will be shown to be right and that our Prime Minister will be shown to be wrong.
– You are on safe ground.
– I hope so. There is simply a difference of opinion. Our Prime Minister did everything he could do to keep South Africa within the Commonwealth. That, I think, was the right thing to do at that time. What the Commonwealth of Nations is to-day and what it will become is difficult to say. Voltaire, a very clever wit, said, “The holy Roman Empire is r;ot holy, not Roman, and not an empire “ We could rid our minds of troublous thoughts by making similar witticisms today, but they would not help us. We have the future before us. This Commonwealth is something which is worth preserving. How we are to preserve it, I do not know It is quite different now from anything in which we grew up. How to preserve it was the first problem that the Prime Minister had to face.
The second problem arose at the United Nations. There the position was quite different. He simply had to face the legalistic problem of what principles were laid down, how the United Nations worked, and how he could achieve what he wanted to do at that moment with the people there. The two problems were completely different. That, J think, is what we must look at to-night. This kind of debate can become very tedious and very difficult if we are concerned only with making points and establishing something against one another. I think that without question the Prime Minister established in London everything that this nation wanted. This question of equating our migration policy with what is happening in South Africa is a good debating point. Honorable senators opposite can make it if they like, but it just does not make sense. What the Prime Minister wanted to establish, and what I think he did establish, was simply that in the Commonwealth every nation had the right to put its own point of view and every nation had the right to have its own domestic policy under its own control. Every single thing that we do can become the subject of argument and discussion if once we concede the point that the final court of appeal, the assembly of Prime Ministers, has the right to tell a member of the Commonwealth what its policy ought to be. There is no dispute about apartheid. There is no dispute about the wrongness of what is being done in South Africa. But if we think that we are completely invulnerable, if we think that we can establish our own policies and deny anybody else the right to dispute them, we are making a very great mistake. It is most important to the future of Australia that we should have the right to keep the whole of what we call our domestic policy under our own control. It is not a question of equating our policy with apartheid; our policy is something that we should keep under our own control.
Appeals have been made to the United Nations and its charter. I do not think there is anything very new in the United Nations or its charter. Everything good in them has come out of our British history. We believe that our own conscience or our own sense of right and wrong is as good a guide as one can possibly get at the present time. That is what the Prime Minister has tried to establish in the British Commonwealth of
Nations and in the United Nations. I do not think that any party advantage or anything else that can be dragged into this debate detracts from that. The important point is that Australia should and must retain the right to administer its own migration policy and its own policy in regard to anybody who happens to live in Australia. If we can adhere to that and whatever limitations are put on it overseas by some congress of nations with which we agree, then I think we will have solved this problem.
I agree with the motion and I disagree with the amendment. I believe that the Opposition does not quite understand the attitudes adopted by the Prime Minister overseas, first, in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and secondly, in the United Nations. There is complete consistency in his attitudes in both places. We in the Senate have to express our opinions and mine is that the whole attitude of the Prime Minister and the Government to these questions has been consistent, right, sincere and honest, and I support it.
– I wish to speak in support of the amendment. In doing so I think I will be able to bring forward some arguments that will convince myself at least, if nobody else, that the amendment is in order.
– I doubt whether you will convince us.
– I might convince myself. I have often done so when I have tried to rationalize some of my actions which, of course, would not bear the light of day. This has been a very interesting debate indeed, Mr. President. Naturally, the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) fought very hard for his leader. He put up many Aunt Sallies and knocked them down again very vigorously. That is an old debating trick that is practised in this chamber, in the other place and on the debating platform.
The speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) was most: interesting. He dealt with the facts of thesituation in South Africa and told us of theBantu, the Cape coloureds and the white population, their numbers and the difficulties. Any government which seeks to rule and control South Africa has a very difficult task. It is often very easy for those from afar to criticize. I have a lot of sympathy for the people who live in South Africa. Ti have had friends who have lived there for many years and they have told me of the difficulties that arise as a result of the large coloured population, and the small white population.
The main matter that has affected Australia in relation to South Africa and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference is the attitude of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). He has given certain impressions to the world. He did so during the Suez trouble and when he fell foul of Nehru, and he has done it again now. He gives to the world an impression that may be altogether different from his inward thoughts, although I do not know. Certainly, last night he spoke differently from the way he spoke at the Savoy Hotel and other places. We are dealing with the attitudes, expressions and front presented to the. world as a result of the meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
An axiom of law which I have heard expressed by the lawyers in this chamber is that justice not only should be done but also should appear to be done. That has been stated by a number of the lawyers who are members of this chamber - very fine gentlemen. I want to ask some questions as an ordinary man in the street. I am not a lawyer; I am not a man of deep erudition; and I have not made a great study of political events in all parts of the world as Senator McCallum has done. I am just an ordinary pattern-maker and I have been taken away from my trade, for many years and planted in this Senate. Being a senator is a very interesting occupation. I ask: Did the utterances of Robert Gordon Menzies place before the world the true position of Australia in relation to the South African problem? If they did, did that appear to be the true position? From all the newspaper reports and the general impression throughout the world, I think Mr. Menzies failed to interpret Australia’s feelings and put its true position before the world. Now, after so many days have elapsed, he has spoken in this Parliament. He is a very clever lawyer and a man highly skilled in debate, so his speech yesterday went over the air very well, indeed. The supporters of our party deliberately refrained from interjecting while he was speaking. Because he is a clever lawyer, the impression that he gave was different from that which was given to Australia and to the world by a number of his previous utterances.
It has been said in this chamber and in another place that because of Mr. Menzies’ fulsome eulogy and praise of Dr. Verwoerd, it was made to appear that we in this country were in sympathy with Dr. Verwoerd’s policies. In regard1 to the policy of apartheid, of course, every one in this Parliament, including the Prime Minister, is completely opposed to it. The Prime Minister has a right to express his views, but as a statesman he has to think of the effect of his words on the community, just as I and other honorable senators, when we go on the hustings, have to think of the effect of our words on our audiences. We may have certain thoughts, but we do not tell our audiences what we are thinking. We tell them the things that we think will gain the greatest number of votes. A statesman who holds a position such as that which Mr. Menzies holds should be very careful of his utterances; otherwise, a wrong inference may be drawn from his words. There is no doubt that Mr. Menzies praised Dr. Verwoerd1. as he had a perfect right to do. He said that Dr. Verwoerd was a man of obvious honesty and of great courage, a man of great lucidity and one who comported himself with great dignity.
– That is what Mr. Macmillan said in the House of Commons, too.
– Very well. I am not cavilling at what Mr. Menzies has said. I am trying to point out to the Senate the effect that all this praise has had. The impression that was given to Australia and to the world was that Mr. Menzies was favorably disposed to the policies of South Africa. I am not saying that he was so disposed.
The Prime Minister has said that Dr. Verwoerd spoke with great sincerity and expressed his case powerfully; that he is a man of singular integrity and is a most impressive person. There is no doubt about that. The impression that I have mentioned was given by the statement of the Prime Minister. Not only that, but Mr. Menzies was loath to condemn South Africa in relation to the Sharpeville tragedy, although every one else had condemned
South Africa on that score. The Sharpeville incident was the most tragic event that could have happened, affecting as it did the friendship that should exist between black and white. The Prime Minister said that we should withhold judgment until a royal commission had investigated the matter. He said, in effect, “ Let us wait and see what the commission has to say and whether it can place the blame on any one “. When the report of the commission was issued it was found that the commissioner had stated that his task was not to report on the liability or responsibility of individuals. When this was pointed out to Mr. Menzies, he said that we should wait until we had found out whether or not the South African Government was responsible. The point I want to make is that Mr. Menzies was very careful indeed to defend the South African Government, and that, of course, gave a wrong impression.
We of the Opposition have the right to criticize any one in this Parliament, but when we criticize that does not necessarily mean that we are bitter against those whom we criticize. If we think that any member of this National Parliament, whether or not he holds ministerial rank, has been saying things or doing things that are derogatory of the best interests of Australia, we are perfectly justified in bringing the matter up and discussing it. With all due respect to Mr. Menzies, I personally think that he is a reactionary. He is a very conservative man, as is evidenced by many of his actions. Evidently, he has not much time for the various reformers throughout the world and for reform governments. He stands solidly by all those who represent what we call to-day the modern financial capitalist system. That is so, unfortunately, with many leaders of the nations of the free world. It appears that they cannot forget their own history. They cling to the present, and do not realize for one moment that the world is moving rapidly forward.
Throughout the world there is a movement amongst the coloured races that will show itself before long in a mighty effort. We have to be careful in our activities and in our relationships with those people. Dr. Verwoerd is of the old Boer stock. I remember the old Boers very well from my boyhood days. I do not remember Majuba Hill, but I remember the second
Boer War. I remember the kind of men they were. I say nothing against them. They fought for their country. The bitterness that arose from that crime - because it was a crime against those people - still remains in the hearts of many of the people of South Africa. Dr. Verwoerd, I understand, is descended from those old Boers. They were a fanatically religious people. Dr. Verwoerd himself has said, in regard to his policy, that God is on his side. He brings out his Bible to prove conclusively, in his own mind, that he and his party are doing the work that was laid down by the prophets of old. He claims - and he proves it by reference to the Bible - that his policy is in line with the Divine will. He certainly is sincere. He believes those things to be true, but the fact is that the policy of apartheid is causing trouble throughout the world, wherever there are coloured races. Hatred is being engendered that will show itself before long in a struggle against white supremacy.
There is great danger for the white race from one end of Africa to the other. Hatred and bitterness are being aroused against those who are there to-day, and not only against the descendants of the Boers, Mr. Acting Deputy President. My mind goes back to my boyhood days and to books that were written about the activities of King Leopold of the Belgians in the Congo. I remember well Dean G. Morel publishing his book, “ Red Rubber “, a book that I came across a year or two ago underneath my house with the cover gone. It was printed in 1907, and told a story of atrocities under King Leopold that would make your blood run cold. It told of how he had stated that, under a certain convention, he would look after the black people and run the country in their interests. He had not been long in control when he organized a powerful organization. He sent men to control the rubber production and he brought blacks from other parts of Africa to control those natives. Any one who reads Morel’s book must realize the bitterness in the heart of many blackfellows in Africa to-day who know what was done to their ancestors. In the book are statements by missionaries who saw those men and women tortured. Their hands were cut and rubber was forced down their throats if they did not produce enough rubber. They saw their villages destroyed and their women raped by niggers who were brought from another part of Africa. In the foreword of the book was a statement by Sir Harry Johnson, explorer and traveller. At the end of that statement, this passage appears -
The day is coming when the black races of Africa will rise and all the forces in Europe will not be able to withstand the avalanche of hate that will be launched against them.
That is as true in 1961 as it was when it was written in 1907.
– Does that settle anything?
– It does not settle anything at all. But let me say that when 1 was in Darwin I met a young, educated Chinese man who remembered what had been done to the Chinese people by Europeans and others, as a result of which to-day the Chinese have a hatred of Europeans. This does not settle anything either, but it helps us to understand what is happening. We educate young men at the universities and a lot of them go out among their own people many of whom have embraced communism.
Let me return to the Prime Minister’s statement. Has the Prime Minister repented for the attitude that he adopted? Does he still hold that the British Commonwealth of Nations should not interfere in or discuss the internal affairs of a member country of the Commonwealth? After listening to Senator Spooner’s speech, it is apparent that he holds fast to that opinion. I should think that when the Commonwealth Prime Ministers meet in London they have frank discussions. I do not think for a moment that they would fail to discuss internal problems, especially problems that affect the whole world. I should like to pose a question to Senator Gorton, and I am sorry he has left the chamber. Let us suppose that one country whose Prime Minister was attending the Prime Ministers’ Conference had decided to go Communist or move to the extreme left. In these days of rapid development and change it is quite possible that a Prime Minister attending a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London would represent a left-wing or a Communist government. How would the rest of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers re-act to a situation of that nature? Would they discuss that government’s internal policies?
Judging from the statements that have been made in speeches in this chamber and in another place, I can imagine the rage of those representatives when they met in London and found that there was a representative of a Communist or left-wing government in their midst.
There is a great argument going on to-day because this question of apartheid came up at the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. Senator Gorton has practically charged us with responsibility for that. As a matter of fact, no one went to the conference with the idea of bringing this subject forward, and Dr. Verwoerd himself permitted it to be discussed. As a result of its being discussed, he was not kicked out, according to our Prime Minister, but he announced that South Africa would leave the Commonwealth. Senator Spooner and Senator Gorton and members of another place are trying to convince Australia that there is a grave danger in the future that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference will be used as a stage or meeting place for the discussion of the internal problems of the various countries represented at the conference.
– You yourself have just admitted that.
– My dear senator, you are very humorous. Because I posed a hypothetical question, our dense senator on the opposite side says that I am advocating it. I asked what would be the reaction of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers if they found that one of their number represented a Communist government.
– The implication is clear.
– I know that honorable senators can draw all kinds of inferences and say that there are certain implications; that is their privilege.
– I thank you for the admission.
Senator BROWN__ What admission?
– The admission you made in what you said.
– You are very funny. I have a sense of humour too. After listening to what Senator Mattner has had to say, I think we should send him to the next conference in London. I ask the Minister this question: Have Commonwealth Prime Ministers who attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London any obligations as members of the United Nations? I am not advocating for one moment that there should be discussed at such conferences every little internal problem of the various countries represented there, but I should think there must be occasions when certain problems would arise and would be discussed behind closed doors. I refer to certain problems that affect relationships between country and country and between race and race. There is no need for the result of those discussions to be made known to the world. We know that Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter of the United Nations provide that members shall pledge themselves jointly and severally to ensure universal respect for and the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction of race, language or religion. Should not each member nation represented at the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers recognize that? Should there be anything happening within the borders of any country that runs completely contrary to that high ideal, should it not be possible to discuss it? Are not such things discussed there? I do not know, because I have never been to one of these meetings. I ask the Minister in charge of this debate whether the Prime Ministers do discuss these things and whether it is wrong to discuss them. I do not think it is.
Mr. Menzies is very fearful of the future. He thinks that because Dr. Verwoerd allowed apartheid to be discussed, we are in great danger. What has Australia to fear from the rest of the world? Have we not always stood as a nation, and do not we still stand, for the greatest possible freedom for every one? Individually, we may sometimes have fallen from grace in our dealings with the aborigines, but I take it that we are doing our best for them. We are doing our best in New Guinea to improve conditions generally for the natives of that country. I do not see that we have anything at all to fear.
– You have to persuade everybody else.
– That is the point. When Mr. Menzies goes to that meeting of
Prime Ministers it is his duty, if a certain matter comes up at the meeting, to put the case for Australia. Did he put the case for Australia? As far as I can see, he gave the impression to the world that we in Australia had to be very careful of .actions at Prime Ministers conferences.
I have in my hand a cutting from, I think, the Sydney “Daily Mirror”. It is headed “Heat on Menzies’ Racial Views.” It has been read by Senator McKenna and I think that Senator Benn mentioned it when referring to the white Australia policy. Many nations came to the conclusion that Australia was afraid of its white Australia policy because apartheid had been discussed at the Prime Ministers’ Conference. I should like to read this article before I sit down. It reads -
In Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Tunku Abdul Rahman told a Press conference that Australia’s White Australia policy was not racial discrimination. “ It cannot be compared with apartheid,” he said. “ Australia’s immigration policy is to protect the Australian people.
If their doors were opened wide they would be swamped and racial problems could be created.”
The Tunku said Australians had no racial prejudices, and would, in good time, amend their immigration policy.
In Australia, Asians, including Malayan students, were treated properly, decently, and on their merits. “ Australia’s White Australia policy is being confused with apartheid by Australian Prime Minister Menzies,” said the Tunku. “Mr. Menzies is going around expressing regret at the withdrawal of South Africa. “ He is confusing two issues - the White Australia policy and the apartheid policy.” 1 wanted to get that into “ Hansard “. I only wish that Mr. Menzies had made the position very clear, like our friend in Kuala Lumpur who made that statement to the world. I support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
, - The Senate is discussing a formal motion that a paper be printed. The paper is a lengthy statement made last evening ‘ by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), giving to the Australian Parliament an account of his recent’ journey overseas and of those matters of importance associated with that journey. Among other things the statement refers to conversations which the Prime Minister had with the President of the United States and with Mr. Dean Rusk. It refers also to the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London, at which such important subjects as disarmament and the South African situation were discussed, and, .amongst other things, to Seato.
To the formal motion that the paper bs printed the Opposition : has moved an amendment which brings the Government under attack. The amendment proposed by the Opposition refers, amongst other things, to great harm done to Australian relations with other members of the Commonwealth ar.-d with nations in South-East Asia. I shall refer to those matters in more detail a little later, but in passing I wish to say that an amendment of that sort comes strangely from a party which, when in government, succeeded in establishing with the nations of South-East Asia the worst relations which this country has ever had with those nations, culminating in a situation in which the Parliament of one of the South-East Asian nations - the Philippines - moved that war be declared upon Australia. It is a remarkable thing, Mr. President, that the alternative Prime Minister of this country, who was then the Minister for Immigration, handling our immigration policy, caused widespread resentment throughout the entire area nf South-East Asia. That resentment resulted in the greatest ill will towards this country that we have ever experienced.
Senator McKenna this afternoon at the commencement of his speech was guilty of one of the greatest inconsistencies when he referred to the subject of .disarmament and to the relationship of mainland China with the United Nations organization. He pointed out how desirable it was, in his view, that mainland China should be admitted to the United Nations and he quoted with approval some one - I have forgotten the name - who said that we were trying by our policy to ask mainland China to play the game according to the rules of the club whilst denying her admittance to that club.
– That was Lord Attlee.
– That is so. He proceeded from that point to criticize the Government for its policy of non-admission Of mainland China to the United ‘Nations organization. He then proceeded to deal with South Africa and criticized ,the .Government for wanting to keep South Africa within the Commonwealth of Nations. It seemed to be a good proposition to the Leader of the Opposition to advocate -the admission of mainland China to the United Nations and .at the same time kick out of the British Commonwealth of Nations non-Communist - whatever else it is - South Africa. He showed a remarkable inconsistency, revealing in a very vivid way the attitude of the Labour Party to these important matters.
Much has been said .about the rights or wrongs of what has occurred in respect of the situation in which the nation of South Africa now finds itself. We ;ar,e living in historic times. Iri the last few ,days -w.e have se,en history made - history of .a most significant kind. South Africa, one .of the foundation members of the British Commonwealth, .a member of 50 years’ standing, overnight no longer is a member. Is it not strange that in all the post-war years this wonderful and unique association of free nations has been able to meet changing conditions in a changing world, has shown a versatility that has enabled it to admit to the Commonwealth of Nations republics that have not accepted allegiance .to the Crown and other countries that have accepted that allegiance, has shown a versatility for ten years that has extended to the inclusion of all those nations, but sadly - it is a tragic sadness - has been unable to devise a formula that could keep within the British Commonwealth of Nations one of its foundation members - a nation that has been a member for 50 years? I do not think that Australia .and Australians pr any of the other nations of the British Commonwealth yet realize the significance of this development. I am afraid that the decision in respect of South Africa was taken not in the calculated calm in which decisions of this nature should be taken. We have lost a nation. We have lost, if you like, the physical mass of a country. We have lost its resources. But what is more important, we have lost as members of the Commonwealth the peoples of South Africa. I emphasize that: We have lost the peoples of South Africa.
The issue in respect of South Africa was a matter of contention which revolved around policies adopted by the South
African Government in relation to its coloured population. It is pertinent then to ask what is now the position of the coloured peoples who reside in South Africa, lt is more pertinent to ask how has their position been improved by what has happened. What is the position now of the Bantu, the Cape coloured and the 1,000,000 Indians who live in South Africa? Is their situation improved? I understand that for some years three universities in South Africa have catered exclusively for the native population. Will there now be more universities? Will there be greater opportunities for technical training or for ordinary schooling? Is the position of the Bantu improved in respect of hygiene or health services? Are the native peoples of South Africa closer now to the point in time when they will be given civil liberties? Those are the things that are germane to the very problem that has arisen as a result of the severance of South Africa from the Commonwealth of Nations. The sad fact is that to all of the questions which I pose to myself and to the Senate in respect of the present position of the South Africans I feel the answers must be in the negative. The position of the native peoples has not been improved in any of the respects to which I referred. I regard the situation with a deal of sadness because I believe sincerely that a South Africa with a continuing membership of the British Commonwealth - with opportunities of continuous contact with the governments and1 peoples of other Commonwealth countries - had a greater opportunity to rid itself of this policy of apartheid that is so objectionable to the democratic world than it will ever have now. If that is so-
– How can you reconcile that statement with the way Mr. Hood voted in the United Nations?
– If the honorable senator will contain himself in silence I will get to that matter. I do not need him to make my speech for me.
I submit that the position of the South African native population has been gravely worsened by South Africa’s departure from the Commonwealth of Nations. I understand that some Commonwealth countries take the view that as a result of what has happened the stature of the British Commonwealth has been enhanced. I would like to ask one or two questions which I regard as being direct and pertinent. 1 acknowledge immediately that there may be one or two countries - perhaps more - within the British Commonwealth which derive a sense of satisfaction from the fact that they are no longer associated with South Africa by common membership of the Commonwealth. That is a selfgenerated sense of satisfaction which arises from the fact that those countries abhor the policy of apartheid and the Government of South Africa. But in what other respect and in what other area has the stature of the British Commonwealth been enhanced? Look first to the United States of America as an example. Why would the United States of America regard the stature of the British Commonwealth as enhanced because of what has happened? Would it not appear that the inability of the British Commonwealth to devise a formula under which South Africa might have remained in the Commonwealth was a failure on our part? Look at the nations of the non-western world. Will they not interpret what has taken place as a fragmentation of the British Commonwealth? Why not? Where, then, is stature increased? Have we, by South Africa’s departure, gained anything in authority or in world regard? Every one regards this decision as something which in the long term must operate to the disadvantage of the British Commonwealth. I want to make it quite clear, if I have not already done so, that my own view stated here, where it should be stated, is that the British Commonwealth has suffered grave harm as a result of this unfortunate decision. Possibly the only matter in relation to which I can agree with the Leader of the Opposition is an expression of the hope that at some time in the future greater enlightenment on the part of all concerned will lead to South Africa rejoining this family of nations which has meant so much’ to the free world.
The South African experience or incident - call it what you like - gives rise to another point that is of great practical importance to Australia, to the other members of the British Commonwealth, and indeed to the Commonwealth itself. I refer to the matter that was mentioned earlier to-day by Senator Spooner - the right or the obligation of sovereignty and of domestic responsibility. Oddly enough, Mr. Deputy
President, in the past one of the qualifications for membership of the British Commonwealth has been the ability to accept the weight of responsibility, the weight of individual sovereignty. To my way of thinking, it is something of an oddity that many of the countries that have gained self-government or sovereignty during the post-war years and which are now members of the Commonwealth family may find that they are now in danger of losing that sovereignty or of having it limited in some way by a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers- lt has been said to-day during the course of this debate that if we look at the member countries of the Commonwealth we find in many of them policies that are essentially domestic but which would not be approved by all or some other members of the Commonwealth. Those policies may now come under the surveillance or be the subject of criticism by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
If one goes to Ceylon, one sees the problem of the Tamils. The Ceylonese Government rightly, in my view and in the traditional view, regards that problem as being a domestic matter. The very friendly Prime Minister of Malaya has his own problem with the Chinese. Is a problem of that nature to be considered by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers? This afternoon Senator Cole referred to the state of affairs in Ghana and of the virtual dictatorship which exists in that country. In Pakistan at the present time there is no parliamentary institution whatever. Is that, too, a matter which is to be considered by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers? In our own country we have policies that are distinctively Australian. Those policies may well be brought under consideration by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in view of what has happened in relation to South Africa.
– Mr. Macmillan does not think so.
– I cannot help that. Mr. Macmillan is entitled to his view and to express it, just as I am entitled to express mine. I remind Senator Ormonde that in the United Kingdom itself there is now to be seen the beginning of a colour problem. Evidence of it was seen in London at Notting Hill last year when on one occasion no fewer than ISO persons were arrested following an incident when passions ran high and when broken bottles, knives and clubs and all sorts of other weapons were used in what was really a racial disturbance. I should be the last in the world to want to see that kind of thing continue to happen and to see the British Government subjected to criticism because of it. Disturbances of that kind, which occur only when passions are high and when emotions run loose, do not occur as the result of government policies. Indeed, government policies are designed to do everything to discourage that sort of thing.
– Including Sharpeville?
– Including Sharpeville. Whatever we think about the policy of apartheid - it has been roundly condemned - it would be quite wrong to believe that the ghastly incident at Sharpeville was part of the policy of apartheid. It may have been a by-product of apartheid. That incident occurred unfortunately when, because of human frailty, control was lost, and not because it was part of the policy of apartheid that is being pursued by the Government of South Africa. Of course it was not part of the policy of apartheid any more than was the incident involving the 150 people who took part in a racial disturbance at Notting Hill was a part of the British Government’s policy.
– There was the killing of the Nagas in India.
– I am reminded by the reference to India that at the time of the partition of India no fewer than 1,000,000 inhabitants of the Indian continent lost their lives in racial disturbances and the like. That was not because the incidents in question were part of the policy of the Governments of India and Pakistan. That kind of incident is to be regarded in the same light as that in which the incident at Sharpeville should be regarded. I regret that time is running against me. I want to conclude with a comment on the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition. I repeat that it is laughable that this amendment should come from the Opposition which, when in government, succeeded in creating the worst relations we have ever had with our South-East Asian friends. This Government, by a policy steadfastly pursued in this part of the world, by giving assistance and encouragement, has succeeded in showing the peoples of Asia that we stand with them in their advancement, and that we are trying to take them as far as possible along the road to the high standards of living that we enjoy. The amendment moved by the Opposition is rejected very emphatically by the Government.
– At the outset, I should like to deal with two matters raised by Senator Paltridge, while they are fresh in my mind. He charged Senator McKenna with inconsistency in that, when opening his address, he advocated the admission of mainland China to the United Nations and, later, he approved of the exclusion of a nonCommunist country, South Africa, from the Commonwealth of Nations. If there is any inconsistency, it lies with Senator Paltridge. I heard every word of Senator McKenna’s speech, but I had to refer to one of my colleagues to make certain that that was really the speech to which Senator Paltridge alluded, because Senator McKenna most certainly did not seek to make the point alleged by Senator Paltridge. As I remember it, before dealing with South Africa, Senator McKenna said that the nonadmission of mainland China to the United Nations made impossible any world agreement on disarmament. I recall that in reply to an interjection from an honorable senator opposite, Senator McKenna said, “ I am not excusing what is going on in mainland China. I am only stating an indisputable fact.” So the matter of the admission of mainland China to the United Nations had nothing whatever to do with the argument concerning South Africa’s decision not to continue as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I state quite confidently from memory that Senator McKenna said that he regretted all the circumstances associated with the decision of the South African Prime Minister to withdraw his country’s application for continued membership. Every speaker on this subject, including the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), has gone to great pains to make clear that there was a difference between the discussion of South Africa at the Conference of Commonwealth Nations and the acrimonious debate on South Africa at the United Nations.
Secondly, Senator Paltridge went to some lengths to claim that the coloured people of South Africa would suffer most from that country’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Nations. The inference is that with South Africa no longer a member of the Commonwealth of Nations there will be nobody to support the claims of the native peoples, for equal rights. The opinions expressed by other Prime Ministers who were present at the discussions cannot be ignored. They were all well acquainted with the circumstances that led to the decision of the South African Prime Minister, and they seem to have reached an altogether different conclusion. They say categorically that what happened was the only thing that could happen, and they give no indication of any fears for the coloured people of South Africa. I do not intend to quote the statements of those Prime Ministers who are dark skinned. There is no doubt that they thought that the only thing that could happen as a result of the South African Prime Minister’s attitude was what did happen. However, I quote the following statement by the Prime Minister of New Zealand on the 5th of this month -
I believe that the Commonwealth gained in moral stature by expressing itself clearly on a question of principle. If it had failed to do so, its disintegration as a Commonwealth would have been much more likely.
The Canadian Prime Minister said -
The Commonwealth could not survive if it could not agree on a strong principle. That principle was non-discrimination.
A week ago, in the West Indies, the United Kingdom Prime Minister said -
I do not share the views of those who say thai Dr. Verwoerd’s action will have weakened the Commonwealth. I myself was the first to recognize that South Africa’s continued presence among us could lead only to increasing strains on our association.
Those are the views of three Prime Ministers who were at the conference, and their opinions cannot be dismissed lightly. I do not think that any one could say that they had any particular axe to grind. Nobody could say that they had any desire to see South Africa excluded from the Commonwealth of Nations. I believe that they, like the Prime Minister of Australia, hoped that they could arrive at a solution that would result in South Africa’s being able to remain a member. The views of those three Prime Ministers, as a result of discussions at the conference, was that a situation had been created in which South Africa could no longer remain a member of the Commonwealth if the Commonwealth was to remain what it had been in the past. Nobody gained any satisfaction from South Africa’s withdrawal, lt is true that the Prime Minister said in another place last night that some Prime Ministers seemed to be determined to go out of their way to see that a situation was created wherein South Africa could no longer remain in the Commonwealth. But the ones 1 quoted were not in that category. Our Prime Minister did not state that, and I do not think any other Prime Minister stated it. So, it was wrong. That brings me to the point made by Senator Gorton in an earlier contribution to this debate when he, in effect, charged the Labour Party because of its attitude on this matter and the amendment that it has moved to the motion. He said that the Opposition was glorifying in the fact that South Africa was no longer a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Nothing is further from the truth.
Despite what may be said in this debate and what has already been said in a debate in the other place and despite the statement made by the Prime Minister last night, which is the subject of this debate, the people of Australia have made up their minds whether Mr. Menzies is a competent Minister for External Affairs, and their opinions will not be altered by any debate or any apologies for statements previously made. Their minds have been firmly made up on the Prime Minister’s statements, which have been publicized throughout Australia. Those statements were made by the right honorable gentleman in London on 19th and 20th March. He made one of the statements at the Australia Club dinner in the Savoy hotel, and the other at a press conference, and they were closely allied. They form the basis of the criticism that is being directed by the Labour Party against the Prime Minister. That is the sole charge laid against him, and it is on that basis that the amendment has been moved.
Although the amendment has been read, I will read it again. It is an amendment to the motion “ That the paper be printed “. Senator McKenna has moved -
Leave out all words after “ That “ and insert: - “in the opinion of this Senate, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference, have done great harm to Australia’s relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.
The Senate resolves, therefore, that the Minister of State for External Affairs should be censured and considers that he should be removed from that office.”
I reiterate that the amendment is directed not at the statement made by Mr. Menzies last night and not at the attitude he adopted at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference but at his statements to which I have referred. I have yet to hear a speaker on this side of the chamber who has not confined his criticism to the statements made on those two occasions in England. It is on those statements that the people of Australia have made up their minds, and there is no doubt at all that they do not represent the views of the Australian people.
– Have you copies of those statements?
– Did you get them from the press or directly?
– I have the statements that were quoted by Senator McKenna in this debate. One is a Department of External Affairs inward cablegram and the other is a document issued by the office of the High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom. I do not think they are confidential documents. I hope that I am not out of order in quoting from them. I believe that they have been quoted from in this debate. I reiterate that those statements are the basis of the criticism that has been made of Mr. Menzies. It is on those statements that the people of Australia have made up their minds and nothing that has been said in this debate or in the Prime Minister’s speech has altered their opinions or done anything other than apologize for those statements, which have not been contradicted in any way.
I, for one, do not criticize the attitude adopted by Mr. Menzies at the meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I believe that he, like the majority of the Prime Ministers there, was working for a solution of the problem. Everybody who thought about the matter before the Prime Ministers met agreed that they were facing up to a problem the solution of which would be extremely difficult for them to arrive at by some method under which South Africa could still remain in the Commonwealth of Nations. I think it is folly for anybody to deny that, or to suggest that prior to the Prime Ministers’ Conference he believed that it would be easy for South Africa to remain a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
– If you agree with the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister in London, what do you object to in the statements?
– I say there is nothing in the amendment moved by the Opposition and nothing that has been said by any Opposition speaker which criticizes the Prime Minister’s attitude at the conference. The Opposition is criticizing his attitude after the conference.
– In what respect do you criticize his attitude afterwards?
– I criticize him because he rushed into print immediately. I will quote the Prime Minister’s own words from the statement he made last night. He said -
However wrong we thought his policies, nobody at the London conference could or did challenge Dr. Verwoerd’s own sincerity.
I pause here to say that this debate having occurred, and there being now no secret about the opinions expressed by others, I feel relieved of my previous inhibitions about public statements, and will therefore, before I conclude, state my own condemnation of apartheid, and my reasons categorically.
The Prime Minister did not display any inhibitions about making the two statements to which I have referred, and he did not show any inhibitions about throwing Australia’s immigration policy into the melting pot.
– That is completely consistent with his attitude.
– It is not consistent. In order to be consistent he should have come back to Australia and made his statement in this Parliament. He should not have made it at a press conference or in a London hotel, bandied it around the world, as he undoubtedly did, and placed the apartheid policy of the South African Government on a parallel with what we and other people are pleased to call the white Australia policy. That is the criticism that is levelled against the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs. It has been stated in this debate - I think by Senator McKenna and certainly by Senator Benn - that the Opposition believes and the majority of the Australian people believe that no matter what Mr. Menzies’s capabilities in other directions may be, he has not any qualifications which make him a good Minister for External Affairs. Despite the apologies offered in this debate, it is difficult for anybody to point to one really worthwhile contribution that Mr. Menzies has made in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs.
The other matter with which I want to deal is closely allied with that to which I referred in reply to an interjection by Senator Vincent. He asked: If I did not disagree with Mr. Menzies’s efforts at the Prime Ministers conference, why did I disagree with his subsequent statements? I stated that I did so because of his out-of-character action in rushing to the press to air his views. Again I quote the words of the Prime Minister of Great Britain. These words, I understand, have been culled from the report given by Mr. Macmillan in the British Parliament. He said -
It is not my intention to give an account of the discussions that took place at the Conference. Those discussions are confidential and all Prime Ministers should try to preserve in respect of them the traditional confidence of a national cabinet.
I say again that if that was not a criticism of the statements of the Prime Minister of Australia, I should like to know what was.
I do not know the reactions of other honorable senators to criticism, but I can stand up to criticism of statements that J make. I can stand plenty of disagreement with views that I >express, but I feel quite badly if some one suggests that I have said something publicly that should not have been divulged. In other words, I do not like it to be said that I have given to the press something that was said in confidence by somebody else. I believe that that is, in effect, what Mr. Menzies did in making the statements that we are discussing. To that extent, Australia has had to suffer the odium that attaches to somebody who betrays a confidence. That is virtually what Mr. Macmillan has said about Mr. Menzies.
I conclude, Mr. President, by saying that I do not believe that apologies for the statements made by the Prime Minister will alter in any degree the view that has already been formed in the minds of the Australian people. I have no illusions that anything I say will alter that view, either, but I believe that the record should be clear. The criticism by the Australian Labour Party of the Prime Minister of Australia has been expressed not so much because of what he tried to do, but because he rushed into print and drew a parallel between Australia’s policies and those of South Africa. By doing so, as is stated in the amendment moved by Senator McKenna, he aggravated the position he had created at the United Nations meeting in October last year. We contend, Mr. President, that the Prime Minister’s speeches and statements do not represent the views of the Australian people.
-[10.22].- We are indebted to Senator Ridley for having endeavoured to clarify the views of the Labour Opposition. He has explained to us that he at least approved of the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in London and of the policies that he expressed there, but disagreed with his press statements. If that is the gravamen of the Labour charge, then I think it is right to say that both the Opposition and the Government are in agreement in principle on what the Prime Minister did or tried to do in London. That may or may not be the official view of the Labour Party, but certainly it is the impression that Senator Ridley’s speech conveyed to me.
I wish to refer to a remark made by Senator McKenna last night in regard to Communist China. The honorable senator was arguing that it was desirable and, I think, essential, that Communist China should be admitted as a member of the United Nations. I think I am right in saying that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate was arguing that the admission of red China was essential if major nations of the world were to reach some form of agreement on world disarmament. That, of course, is not a new argument. I do not accept it. I join issue with the Leader of the Opposition in advocating, as have supporters of the Australian Labour Party and many other people, the admission of red China to the United Nations as a reason for discussing the subject of world disarmament.
I agree, of course, with Senator McKenna and everybody else that it would be quite futile and unrealistic for world disarmament to be discussed without bringing red China into the discussions. That is elementary and fundamental to the question. I concede that immediately, but I do not suggest that red China’s admission to the United Nations has very much to do with discussions on world disarmament. Let me put a few facts. The Soviet Union is a member of the United Nations, as we know. Has that fact in any way assisted the abortive discussions that have gone on for the last ten years between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies in regard to disarmament? Surely no one would argue that the participation of the Soviet Union in the debates at the United Nations has done one thing to assist the discussions on world disarmament. In fact, I think it could be argued that, conversely, the presence of Russia in the forum of the United Nations has militated against the success of such discussions. Therefore, Sir, I think it is rather a non sequitur to argue that the only way that we can bring red China into discussions on disarmament is to admit it to membership of the United Nations.
I remind the Leader of the Opposition that for centuries past the sovereign states of the world have used peace treaties, some of which have been kept and some broken. Those treaties have been discussed. There have been disarmament treaties, but there has not always been a United Nations organization. I suggest that it will be far easier to discuss world disarmament with Communist China outside the aegis of the United Nations and not inside it. Let us face the fact that once the matter of disarmament is raised in the forum of the United Nations, all the pressure groups in the world will be advocating their ideas. The major issue will be lost sight of in the maelstrom of discussion and in the vortex of power politics. The greatest instrument of power politics in the world to-day is to be found within the United Nations. That is unquestionably a fact of life, unfortunate though it may be. Do not let us for a moment accept the proposition that the only way that we can discuss the matter of world disarmament with red China is through the United Nations organization. If that were so, our chances of reaching agreement with that country in relation to disarmament would be very remote indeed.
I want to pass from that question, Sir, because w is not the real issue in this debate. I turn to the main question in this very important discussion. It is perhaps true to say that not for many years in this Parliament has there been a debate on international affairs of more importance than that in which we are now participating. We are discussing the position of South Africa, the problem of apartheid, and the situation that has arisen because of the expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth. The first point that I want to make in regard to those very difficult and highly important international questions is that South Africa’s expulsion from the Commonwealth is not going to solve the internal problems arising from the policy of apartheid in that country. On the contrary, it probably will aggravate them.
I think that we must start our consideration of the matter from that point. There are in Australia and elsewhere well-meaning people and foolish newspaper editors who are parroting the expressions and sentiments that have been uttered to the effect that it is much better for the Commonwealth for South Africa to be out of it, and that in any case we could not possibly get on with South Africa because of her policy of apartheid. Those are expressions of despair and much to be regretted by the people of Australia. If we are genuinely interested in solving the problem of apartheid, which, by the way, does not exist only in South Africa - do not let us make that mistake - the best way to keep it green and rankling is to cut South Africa off from the forum of the British Commonwealth so that never again will Mr. Macmillan or Mr. Menzies be able to ring up the Prime Minister of
South Africa and say, “ Let us discuss this matter informally because it has got a bit difficult over here”. No longer can Mr. Macmillan say to Dr. Verwoerd, “Let us go to Chequers for the week-end and thrash this one out”. Never again can that be done.
Never again can the problem of apartheid be discussed informally by anybody. The problem is now locked up in South Africa. Her expulsion from the British Commonwealth has achieved just that. Any one who goes round this country and says it is a good thing that we expelled South Africa is doing the natives of South Africa a great harm. Who now is go.~6 to take up the cudgels on behalf of the coloured people in South Africa? I ask the members of the Opposition who seem to think at was a good thing that South Africa was expelled - although Senator Ridley, very wisely, does not agree with that opinion - who will take up the cudgels on behalf of the coloured people in South Africa? Do honorable senators opposite think that Dr. Nkrumah will get to first base, if I may use that expression, on that matter? Does any one think that Dr. Verwoerd will discuss this matter without a motion with Dr. Nkrumah or any one else in South Africa? Who now ls going to take the part of the coloured people in South Africa? We have denied them all chance of getting down to this problem. The black fellow has no chance; the decision was not made by him. The decision to kick South Africa out was not made by any coloured man in South Africa. It was made by a lot of coloured people outside South Africa who thereby did a great disservice to their coloured friends in South Africa.
Let us examine what is happening in South Africa at the moment. Until Dr. Verwoerd went to the Prime Ministers’ Conference the Opposition in South Africa was by no means on side with government policy relating to apartheid; it had other methods of handling this coloured problem - and God knows, it is a problem. But by the time we of the Commonwealth had expelled South Africa-
– We did not expel South Africa.
– We expelled South Africa. As a result every white person, whether he was a member of Dr. Verwoerd’s party or not, fell in behind Dr. Verwoerd. In other words, the white population of South Africa now has got a grievance, a grudge. That is another unfortunate consequence and it makes the possibility of a reconciliation between the coloured people and the whites in South Africa more remote. The resistance in the minds of the whites whether followers of Dr. Verwoerd’s party or not, has now crystallized; they are right behind him to a man and a woman. We must accept that fact; that is one of the consequences, whether we like it or not. I am not suggesting that they are right; I merely mention in passing that this is one of the consequences that flows from this unfortunate decision that was approved in London. I think that goes to prove my point that the best way to prevent any solution of apartheid is to isolate South Africa and to refuse to discuss that problem with her. Does the Opposition agree or disagree with that proposition? If honorable senators opposite agree with my contention, why are they interjecting?
I pass from that aspect to some of the consequences that affect us. Thank goodness we have no apartheid in Australia, and we can afford to be righteous and unctuous about the matter. Let us look at the consequences that flow from South Africa’s expulsion from the British Commonwealth of Nations so far as they affect us. South Africa has been a member of the British Commonwealth since the Commonwealth was formed. If honorable senators were to read Mr. Macmillan’s statement on the matter they would find that he said that South Africa applied to renew its membership of the Commonwealth. I am quoting Mr. Macmillan. I suppose that Senator Sandford, who is interjecting, as an eminent international authority, would say that Mr. Macmillan did not know what he was talking about. However, I assure Senator Sandford that Mr. Macmillan said that South Africa applied to renew its membership. The operative word was “ renew “. You cannot get away from that. Some of the consequences of South Africa’s expulsion which affect us in Australia can be serious. There are consequences that will affect the whole of the Commonwealth, which I shall refer to under three broad headings. There will be economic consequences, some of which will be most unfortunate. There will be consequences of a security and defence nature; and most importantly there will be some consequences concerning the new constitution of this Commonwealth which arose in London during the Prime Ministers’ Conference. An entirely new body has come from the ashes of the old. We are no longer a Commonwealth of nations, of sovereign states, in which our domestic policies are our own concern, as envisaged in the Statute of Westminster, as envisaged by everybody in Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand for years before they achieved sovereignty, and as envisaged by Mr. Ghandi, who gave his life for the principle of sovereignty. That has gone overboard now. We in the Commonwealth have sacrificed our sovereignty in an emotional spirit to placate some of the Commonwealth members who, perhaps with the best of intentions in the world, thought it best to get rid of South Africa as a way to end apartheid. That is the situation.
I want now to refer to the economic consequences that will flow from this decision. It is unnecessary for me to emphasize the fact that the great collective strength of the Commonwealth has come from trade. It is perhaps unnecessary to remind honorable senators that Great Britain was, at one period of her existence, the greatest trading nation in the world and, of course, the wealthiest. But I think I should remind everybody that although Great Britain is no longer the greatest trading nation, a great deal of her trade has been dispersed to sister partners in the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth of Nations as a whole is still by far the greatest trading unit in the world. From trade comes our prosperity. No one can deny that those are elementary facts. To the extent that South Africa was participating in this mutual benefit society, we shall all be sufferers.
Let me give the Senate one or two pertinent illustrations of that. At the moment South Africa mines more than onehalf of the world’s gold. Every ounce of that gold goes into the coffers of the Commonwealth to promote trade. That will stop and we in Australia will suffer from the withdrawal of the enormous purchasing power that South Africa wields. I shall give another illustration. I could give more, but my time is limited. South Africa is the owner of more uranium than the rest of the world put together. It has the greatest uranium deposits in the world. In this atomic era, South Africa is potentially one of the great nations of the world, but we have lost South Africa from the Commonwealth. We shall suffer because South Africa will now turn to other nations in her trading activities. She is outside the Commonwealth, a partnership which exists substantially for trade benefit. Gone is the old idea of the British Empire existing basically and substantially to make the mother nation rich. All the nations of the Commonwealth were becoming rich, individually and collectively, because of their association. To the extent that South Africa participated in that trade, we shall be losers.
Let me refer to the matter of defence. We have not forgotten, of course, that South Africans fought valiantly alongside our lads in two wars to preserve our freedom and theirs. To that extent, we have lost a good partner in arms who helped us to preserve our freedom as well as its own. But that is not the only defence problem that arises. Now, of course, South Africa stands alone. In terms of global strategy, we must remind ourselves that South Africa as a nation dominates the western approaches to the Indian Ocean, which is our vital waterway. Does not that create a defence problem so far as Australia is concerned? Of course it does. We cannot overlook that. In terms of defence, the step that was taken in London last month is probably more serious for Australia than for any other member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In relation to Australia, South Africa now stands as Ireland stands to Great Britain. South Africa need not be so concerned with her security as we are, in the same way that Southern Ireland need not be so concerned with her security as is Great Britain. We have a curious problem in this regard because we can no longer say to South Africa, in effect, “What about assisting in the maintenance of security in the Indian Ocean? “ South Africa is now a foreign country and we have helped to make her so.
I pass to what is probably the most serious of all the consequences of the expulsion of South Africa from the Common wealth. I refer to the new functioning and constitution of the Commonwealth of Nations. Some people have said that it is better that South Africa has got out of the Commonwealth, and I think I have covered that point adequately. We should examine the change that has come over the constitution of the Commonwealth. We must admit that until this time last month every one was under the impression that the Commonwealth was a partnership of sovereign states in which sovereignty was sacrosanct. After all, did we not fight for that sovereignty and get it in the Statute of Westminster? To my mind, the significant thing is, not that South Africa was expelled from the Commonwealth because some nations did not like her apartheid policy, but that a majority of the member nations of the Commonwealth took to themselves the right to expel a sister nation. I think that is where we should commence our consideration of this matter, because it was never suggested that members of the Commonwealth had that right until just a month ago. That is the most serious constitutional consequence for us all. From now on it will be proper for any member nation of the Commonwealth to investigate the domestic policies of a sister nation and, if it does not like them, to move for the expulsion of that nation. That is what is happening now.
For 50 years we had a Commonwealth where every nation’s sovereignty was sacrosanct. We fought for that. At every imperial conference over the years the Australian representatives would demand sovereignty. Finally we got it. How proud we were when William Morris Hughes came back from an imperial conference in 1924, I think, and said that at last we had obtained sovereign power for our nation. We have now altered that position. Let us see where we are going. Senator Paltridge referred to some of the problems that will occur. Suppose a member nation attacks Ghana, a sovereign republic, on account of its policies. I do not want Opposition members to become worried, but at the present time Dr. Nkrumah has the whole of the Opposition in Ghana in jail. They have been there for months and have not yet been tried. Dr. Nkrumah has been a great proponent of human rights. He led the band wagon at the Prime Ministers’ Conference. What will happen if, at the next Prime Ministers’ Conference, somebody says “ We object to that domestic policy and move for the expulsion of Ghana “? I do not criticize Dr. Nkrumah for having done this remarkable thing. That is his business. I object to anybody questioning the domestic policies of Dr. Nkrumah within the framework of the Commonwealth. It is all right to do so outside. It is all right to do that within the framework of the United Nations organization. That is where these things should be discussed. They were never intended to be judged and acted upon within the framework of the Commonwealth. It is most certainly right to discuss them there. That is the best way to alter and improve things, but the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference should certainly not act as a judge or as a superstate, as someone has called it.
Let me turn to Canada. At the moment the Canadians refuse to allow coloured people into Canada. They have a quota which, in effect, is even smaller than that of Australia. Canada’s policy might not be approved by one of the members of the Commonwealth. What will Canada do if, at the next Prime Ministers’ Conference, one of the member nations moves for Canada’s expulsion because of this policy? You can see how far we have gone along the road to collapse when the Commonwealth of Nations accepts as a part of its constitution the right of member nations to sit in judgment upon other member nations. I am not dealing with the merits or otherwise of apartheid. That is beside the point. But what is to happen if Dr. Nkrumah at the next Prime Ministers’ Conference moves that Australia be expelled because of her white Australia policy? Some honorable senator has complained that Mr. Menzies raised that question in London. I am entitled to raise it here and the Opposition is entitled to answer it in the way it pleases. Would Australia accept the judgment of other member nations of the Commonwealth of Nations in respect of our policies? Certainly not. We argued with Great Britain for 50 years over the right to determine our own policies. Every sovereign State in the Commonwealth has that right. I hope that eventually the Commonwealth Prime Ministers will realize what a terrible mistake was made in sitting in judgment on a member nation. I hope that they will decide once and for all never to do it again. Let the Prime Ministers discuss policies by all means. That is what they meet for, but let them not sit in judgment on member nations.
We must remember that the policy of apartheid is a temporary one. It will surely pass, but South Africa will remain. She will always be there. When the policy of apartheid has gone and South Africa remains, what shall we do? We shall look rather foolish. Surely it would be better to retain particular nations within the Commonwealth, despite their idiosyncrasies. Surely it is better to retain Malaya in the Commonwealth despite the difficulties being experienced in that country. Surely it is better to retain India within the Commonwealth despite the injustices being perpetrated there. Everybody has an Achilles’ heel. For instance, Pakistan has no parliament. Should we sit in judgment on Pakistan? How far are we as a Commonwealth of Nations to go?
I think I have laboured this point long enough to suggest that the consequences of South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Nations are serious. Our friends in Opposition have seen fit to resort to ridicule. They have told us what they would do about the situation. They have told us what they think about attacks made on our sovereignty. I do not think it is good that those attacks should be made. I condemn the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, and I support the motion.
– Indignation expressed against any form of inhumanity is always creditable. I share the indignation that several honorable senators have expressed in relation to the apartheid policies of South Africa. I share their forebodings that . those policies ultimately will lead that country to disaster. But I regret that so much indignation of a selective character is expressed these days. I refer to those progressive minds with which we are surrounded to-day which firmly support the exclusion of South Africa from the British Commonwealth of Nations on grounds of humane and liberal principle, and at the same time firmly advocate that we should ignore humane and liberal principles and admit red China to membership of the United Nations. I want to refer to the indignation that has been expressed at the attitude taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in opposing action taken by that body with regard to the domestic policies of one of its constituent members. Having said that I share the indignation felt about those policies, I submit that it is altogether different to say that the Prime Minister should not have made a stand for a principle that was being imported into the British Commonwealth meetings for the first time. We all know that the Commonwealth has always been a consultative association without any formal basis in which public discussion of domestic issues of members has been taboo. At no time was the Parliament of this country informed that a change had been made in that procedure. Leaving apart altogether the particular issue upon which discussion took place, I feel that it was perfectly proper for our Prime Minister to say that no new principle should be imported into the discussions of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers until those Prime Ministers had an opportunity to consult their parliaments and to learn whether that new principle was to be approved. I cannot understand why so many people, knowing the former constitution of the British Commonwealth meetings, should be prepared to allow a new principle to be introduced overnight, while at the same time they are prepared to disregard all the principles that we associate with the United Nations. Those people, in order to obtain admission to the United Nations of red China - a country that has consistently defied the main principles for which the United Nations is supposed to stand - are prepared to disregard the Declaration of Human Rights and the fact that the United Nations Organization is a body dedicated to peace.
But the matter goes further than that. South Africa regards apartheid as a domestic policy. It does not seek to propagate apartheid throughout the world in the way that Communists seek to propagate their ideologies. South Africa did not attempt to send emissaries into every country where a problem similar to its own existed, nor did she form organizations of a political character that would seek to induce those countries to adopt apartheid principles. South Africa said that apartheid was a matter for South Africa alone. But international communism seeks to propagate its beliefs through every country in the world. Despite that we find people who can accept without a quiver what red China is doing - people who can advocate that this country that has defied every liberal and peaceful principle should be seated in the United Nations. At the same time, those people raise their hands in holy horror at the thought of South Africa being permitted to remain within the British Commonwealth.
If I had been present at the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London when this matter was raised I would have felt compelled to say: “ Let him who is without sin cast the first stone “. Can we say that our aborigines are not subjected to-day in certain communities in this country to a form of apartheid? Could an aboriginal take his wife and children to the Hotel Australia and obtain accommodation there? Are there not towns in this country of oura where aborigines are not allowed to bathe in the same swimming pool as whites? Are there not picture theatres in Australia where aborigines may not sit in the same section as whites? Are not Australian citizens of mixed blood, resident in New Guinea, prohibited from entering Australia? Are there not principles in the administration of. our immigration programme which mean that the colour and appearance of a prospective immigrant are taken into consideration before deciding whether he or she may come here? If the answers to those questions are in the affirmative, and bearing in mind the white Australia policy, are we in a position to point the finger of scorn at South Africa?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 April 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610412_senate_23_s19/>.