24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a report in to-day’s Sydney press which states that the United States of America is applying pressure to Great Britain to discontinue Commonwealth trade preferences if and when Great Britain joins the Common Market? If that report is true,” does it not indicate that the efforts of the Minister for Trade in the United States have failed?
– For a long time the United States of America has been opposed to the preferential system within the British Commonwealth, and it is continuing to pursue that policy. Mr. McEwen is making representations with a view to obtaining the best results possible for Australia in all the circumstances. On a matter as important as this we cannot speak in precise terms of the results that have been achieved, but, being aware of a good deal of what has happened, I am glad that Mr. McEwen has been to the United States of America and elsewhere overseas to make representations on our behalf.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to a statement that representatives of the Farmers Union of Western’ Australia are considering challenging the legality of the Commonwealth legislation imposing a wool promotion levy of 10s. a bale? Will the Minister say whether grower organizations will be consulted before legislation is introduced to continue the present rate of levy for another year? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the procedure generally adopted in fixing a rate of wool levy?
– We live in a democracy, and any individual may take any action deemed necessary to protect his interests. The same reasoning applies with regard to organizations. For that reason, I have no quarrel with any action contemplated by the Western Australian Farmers
Union. However, I point out to the Senate and to the farmers union that the legislation that was passed by this Parliament some twelve months ago, raising the wool levy to 10s., was introduced at the express request of the .two major wool-growing bodies in Australia - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Federal Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. The Western Australian Farmers Union is affiliated with the latter body. It is a matter of some concern that the farmers union is possibly at variance with its federal body. However, I assure the honorable senator that if and when legislation to maintain the levy at the rate of 10s. is renewed, it will be done only at the express request of the federal bodies. I hope that the Western Australian Farmers Union will see fit to bring its thinking into line with the thinking of its federal body because, as a Commonwealth Government, we must heed the voice of the federal bodies.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask the Senate to be tolerant while I state, for purposes of clarification, the grounds that prompt my question. I understand that the recovery of gold by the treatment of sands and residues cannot attract the bounty payable under the Gold-mining Industry Assistance Act. Is the Minister aware that on numerous leases on the Western Australian goldfields companies have ceased to operate but have left big sand and residue dumps, all of which contain gold, and that the recovery of gold from those residues cannot be made a payable proposition without some assistance from the Government? Many people on the goldfields are eager to treat these residues and sands and would recover a considerable amount of gold if they were able to receive the bounty. Will the Minister endeavour to have gold recovered by the treatment of sands and residues brought within the scope of the Gold-mining Industry Assistance Act so that the bounty may be paid? That would give employment to numerous people on the goldfields and arrest in some small measure the decline that the goldfields are suffering.
– I personally am not aware that the treatment of sands or slimes, as such, is excluded from the scope of the Gold-mining Industry Assistance Act. I do know, as the honorable senator knows, that more often than not the treatment of sands is a less profitable proposition than other forms of mining at Kalgoorlie, although from time to time some dumps have been treated. If the proposition that the honorable senator has put to me is true, and the treatment of sands, as an operation, is excluded from the scope of the act, I will inquire why that is so. I doubt very much that it is so. I think the honorable senator may misunderstand the position.
– Such an operation is not called mining.
– 1 see. I am subject to correction on the point. I will have some inquiries made. Recently a deputation of representatives of goldmining companies visited Canberra. The deputation was introduced to the Treasurer by Senator Vincent. I do not know whether this matter was raised by the deputation or whether it was discussed. I will make inquiries from both the industry and the Treasury, find out the exact position and give the honorable senator a full answer.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade. Has the Minister noted a report in yesterday’s press of a proposal in the United States of America to double tariffs on beef imports to that country, and to impose an import quota system? Have representations been made to the United States Government, or will they be made, or is it a practical proposition to make them, in an attempt to safeguard part of Australia’s very limited outlet for beef, especially as the balance of trade between this country and the United States is so heavily loaded in favour of the United States?
– I did read with great interest the report to which the honorable senator refers. It was a report of evidence given by the American United Cattlemen’s Association before the United States Ways and Means Committee. That committee was taking evidence from many witnesses in its consideration of the Trade Expansion Bill of the President of the United States of America. It is no part of the functions of this committee to grant increased protection, nor was the cattlemen’s suggestion a formal request for increased protection. The suggestion was merely made in evidence before the Ways and Means Committee. I think we all are fully aware of the limited market for meat that Australia has in the United States of America, and I am sure that Australia’s interests would not be best served by any further limitation of that market.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question without notice. Could he give information to the Senate in relation to a statement made by the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board that the members of a sect known as the Plymouth Brethren have been relieved of the obligation to market their wheat through the board? Could he further inform the Senate whether, if such an obligation has been lifted from the members of this section of wheat-growers, they enjoy the privileges of other growers who have to comply with the law and market their wheat through the statutory authority? Do the persons so exempt enjoy the benefits of wheat stabilization, guarantees, and all the other assistance that is given to wheat-growers who comply with the law, and market their wheat in accordance with the law, through the Australian Wheat Board?
– This matter having been raised publicly, I asked1 my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to supply me with some information on it. His reply is embodied in a rather lengthy document and I shall not weary the Senate by reading it in full. I shall merely outline some of the salient points that it contains. In 1960 representations were made to the Minister for Primary Industry to exempt these people from the provisions of the act as far as it concerns the sale of their wheat to the Australian Wheat Board. It is interesting to recall that the Minister and the board have the right to grant such an exemption. The Minister discussed the matter with the board which, in its wisdom, declared that these people should be granted the exemption they desired.
– On religious grounds?
– Yes, but not on the ground that they had a special case other than that based on religious grounds.I emphasize the fact that people who hold very strong religious views are, of course, considered by this Government, and if any other religious sect made similar application I have not the slightest doubt that its representations would receive the same consideration.
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral.I refer to the recent improvement in the trunk line service between Sydney and Canberra as a result of the provision of a coaxial cable, enabling a subscriber in one city to dial the number of a subscriber whom he is desirous of calling in the other city, without the intervention of the trunk exchange. Would the Minister inform the Senate when it is envisaged that these facilities will be extended to Brisbane and other major cities and towns in Queensland?
– I am happy to inform the honorable senator that arrangements are well in hand for the provision of a large capacity cable and micro-wave link between Sydney and Brisbane. Further to that, comprehensive plans are under consideration for the extension of the system northwards. When those plans are completed and put into operation they will bring great benefit to dwellers in northern areas.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral a simple question of interest. As the law stands to-day, would it be possible for Russia, red China or any other Communist country to establish and completely control a company engaged in any industry it chose to select in Australia?
- Mr. President, I shall have to ask the honorable senator to put the question on the notice-paper. This seems to me to be entirely a legal issue on which, as a mere layman, I do not feel competent to express a view.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface I point out that the number of air letters and packages carried by air transport within Australia rose from 74,000,000 in 1958-59 to 269,000,000 in 1960-61. I point out also that at the Adelaide airport there is no facility such as a late-fee post bag, which is a common feature at the railway stations of all the capital cities, for air letters posted at the airport to be placed in appropriately designated bags and then put on aircraft a few minutes before departure. Instead, the letters are taken to Adelaide, sorted there, returned to the airport and despatched quite often the day following the day of posting. Will the Minister consider providing late-fee post bag facilities at all major airports, and will he seek the co-operation of the PostmasterGeneral in arranging for such mail to be placed on departing aircraft within a few minutes before take-off, and for the mail to be sorted on arrival at destination?
– Yes, I shall be pleased to confer with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, on this matter. As the Minister for Civil Aviation I am naturally interested in the proposal as it concerns facilities for air travellers. On the face of it, this appears to be a quite desirable further facility to provide for them. I know nothing at all of the operational aspects of clearing mails and the like. As the honorable senator will appreciate, that is a matter for the Postmaster-General. I shall be pleased to discuss with him the possibility of the establishment of the service suggested by Senator Laught.
– I direct my question without notice to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It should be addressed to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but he is not present. I am wondering whether the Minister can give me any indication of the activities of the C.S.I.R.O., in conjunction with other authorities, in the control of the sirex wasp.
– Mr. President, I have some intimate knowledge of this matter, and I may be able to give more up-to-date information on this issue than can the Leader of the Government. Senator Sandford will recall that the Premiers’ Conference agreed to establish a fund of £200,000 for an attack on the wasp by way of survey, eradication and research in Tasmania and on the mainland. The appropriate State Ministers met and decided to appoint two sub-committees, one to work specifically in conformity with the main objective of eradicating the wasp in Tasmania, and the other sub-committee to concentrate on research generally, principally with Tasmania’s interests in view, because the wasp has been established there for some considerable time. On the latter committee, which will be devoting its energies to research, is a very distinguished member of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether or not his attention has been directed to the following statement from an address by Professor J. M. Lewis, of the University of New England, to the Institute of Agricultural Science -
Australia has a developing farm problem, which almost certainly will become chronic in the next ten years unless something is done.
Can the Minister say whether or not the Department of Primary Industry has had an opportunity of examining the full text of that address? If it has not, will he see that the full text is examined and will he indicate to the Senate in due time whether he thinks the matter is properly a subject for immediate assessment to avoid the development of that chronic situation?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by Senator Wright. I am unable to comment on it, as it refers to a problem that is developing and may become chronic, without mentioning the type of problem. I shall ask my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to have a look at this address, examine the points that have been made, and give Senator Wright his considered opinion on the subject.
– Consequential upon the statement of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry that a certain section of the community has been exempted, without the sanction of Parliament, from compliance with the law, 1 ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he will arrange for exemption of the same section from payment of taxes, and for a similar privilege to be extended to anybody who does not like to pay taxes?
– The question is of such profundity that I ask for it to be put on the notice-paper so that 1 may have an opportunity of examining it.
– Does the Acting Minister for Trade know that the discontinuance of bounty on sulphuric acid produced by Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited has resulted in an increase of £261, SOO per annum in the cost of acid to manufacturers of superphosphate in South Australia and an increase in the cost of production of superphosphate amounting to 13s. 46. a ton, which has to be met finally, of course, by primary producers who use superphosphate? Has the matter of payment of bounty on sulphuric acid produced from lead sinter gas been referred to the Tariff Board for further inquiry and report?
– Yes. The Minister for Trade referred this question to the Tariff Board in February of this year. The board reported on the manufacture of sulphuric acid from nitrogenous materials. Its report did not cover the manufacture of sulphuric acid from sinter gas. Further evidence of increasing costs was placed before the Minister and the department by manufacturers of sulphuric acid from sinter gas. The matter has again been referred to the Tariff Board for consideration of this item.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General and it contains a suggestion which, if adopted, would probably be hailed by all telephone users throughout Australia. In view of the obvious fact that the Postmaster-General’s Department is continually trying to improve Australian telephone directories, will the Minister suggest to the Postmaster-General that in all future issues of directories the name of the city or area with which a directory is concerned shall be printed in bold letters on the spine of the directory so as to enable those organizations and companies which use many directories to place them on a shelf, as one does with books, and to select readily the directory that is required? Al the present time all that is to be seen on a directory stored on a bookshelf is an advertisement of some sort. One has no idea of the area to which the directory relates.
– On behalf of the PostmasterGeneral, I accept the gracious compliment paid to him by the honorable senator from Tasmania, who generously concedes that telephone directories are being improved. 1 am sure that the suggestion the honorable senator has made is an excellent one and I shall be very happy to place it before the Postmaster-General. I should think that the only things that would prevent such a suggestion from being given effect would be the cost involved and printing difficulties.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior a question in relation to the security of ballot-papers during the counting period following a federal election. I explain to the Minister that during the counting of ballot-papers for the Stirling division at the last federal election, I inspected the Stirling divisional electoral offices and was appalled to find how easy it would be to interfere with ballot-papers, particularly during the night, when the premises are unattended. I hasten to say that this is not the fault of the divisional electoral officers but is the fault of the storage equipment they have to use. In a case where the results in one or two divisions are in doubt and where these results could decide the fate of a government, what security measures are taken in relation to ballot-papers? If security measures are not taken, will the Minister ensure that they will be taken in future?
– The issues raised in Senator Branson’s question are of great importance. 1 ask him to put the question on the notice-paper, so that the Minister for the Interior himself can provide the information that is sought.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that, as reported, the Australian Labour Party is setting up a committee to prepare a case for an increase in parliamentary retiring allowances? Would the Minister care to comment on this report? Does he subscribe to the belief that this move indicates that members of the Labour Party fear an early federal election, with consequent losses of Labour-held seats because of the party’s unsound economic policy and its vacillating foreign policy?
– I saw the report in this morning’s press.
– It was interesting, was it not?
– It was a most interesting report. It is alleged that this move was made at the Labour caucus meeting yesterday. I am sure we on this side are very interested, at any time, to read reports of what happens at Labour caucus meetings, just as Senator O’Byrne, who is interjecting, is interested, no doubt, when he feels that he has latched on to something that happened at one of our party meetings. However, those of us who have had only a little experience of politics have come painfully to the conclusion that we should not believe all the reports of proceedings in the party rooms. I do not know whether there is any truth in the report concerning the desire of some members of the Labour Party to have parliamentary pensions increased. There may well be truth in it, for the reason advanced by my keenly perceptive friend, Senator Wardlaw. Some members of the Labour Party may desire to have their pensions increased because they know full well that when they next go before the electors, at least some of them will be in grave danger of not coming back here.
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The following answer is now supplied: -
I read the article in question naturally with considerable interest. I was particularly interested because it seemed to suggest virtuein a permanent tariff-making machinery the direct opposite to that built up in Australia over the years. It seemed to laud the merits of hurried permanent inquiries, making do with incomplete or unquestioned information in the interests of time- saving, and I suppose that it would endorse the results such a system would be likely to inflict on us.
I am not of the opinion that we should try to alter our permanent machinery to that pattern. The issues involved in tariff-making are of considerable importance not only to the applicant industry, but also to other industries and to consumers and the economy generally. This is a situation which certainly does not lend itself to hasty action. It calls for the soundest possible recommendations, based on the fullest possible information obtained through a comprehensive inquiry into all aspects of the question.
This approach takes time and I will admit that we are looking to see what can be done to reduce delays. But in any action to reduce delays we do not intend to do anything that will interfere with the board’s freedom to make a full inquiry, to seek the fullest information, and to devote whatever time must be spent in reaching the best possible recommendations.
Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 812), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the following paper: -
Netherlands-Indonesian Dispute - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 15th March, 1962- be printed.
– This debate has ranged from the narrow consideration of the immediate issue to the whole sweep of our foreign policy. It is probably wise that that should be so, because this country has not in the past given sufficient consideration to international affairs. I think it is true to say that the preoccupation of members of Parliament and of the public generally has been almost exclusively concerned with domestic issues. There was a time when it was quite natural and right that that should be so, but that time has gone. The great value of this debate will be in permitting a consideration of the realities of the existing situation.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been criticized in the press and also in the Parliament for apparently deferring to the views of our great and powerful friends. One newspaper cartoon depicted the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), as two sheep comforting themselves with the thought that they were lions. If you want to act the part of a lion, you must have a lion’s strength. Australia has some of the qualities of the lion but, if we attempted to act in this matter as a lion, we could not do better than a good lighting cat. That is no discredit to anybody. After all, the cat has courage and ingenuity; it is a bonny fighter. The cartoon demonstrated the position in which we find ourselves. It is no shame for a young country to have to rely on the support of great and powerful friends.
I remind the Senate that the United States itself was in this position until the end of the nineteenth century. America’s most famous declaration of foreign policy is the Monroe Doctrine, enunciated by President Monroe in, I think, 1823. He declared that the United States would not tolerate the re-assertion of colonial claims in Latin America, and from that date until the present time - when conditions are varying - it has been thought that the United States is the protector of every Latin American republic against European intervention. The truth about the famous Monroe Doctrine is that the great and powerful friend which safeguarded the United States at that time was Great Britain. The man who decided that Spain should not re-assert her power in South America was Canning, the great statesman then responsible for England’s foreign policy. In the 1820’s there was a very dangerous move to re-assert the power of a reactionary Spain. All the powers of Europe at that time, with the exception of Great Britain, were reactionary. France was under the government of Charles X. - one of the Bourbons who had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. He was prepared to support the Austrian empire, the Prussian King - there was then no German empire - and the Czar of Russia in an attempt to re-assert Spain’s dominion over her revolted colonies. Canning publicly proclaimed that that would not be allowed. At that time Great Britain was in a position to play the part of the lion because the only effective navy in the world was the British navy. It really did rule the waves. When Canning laid down the policy of the British Government, it was known that Spain would not dare to attempt to reassert her authority. All of the powers of Europe bowed to the will of the British Government. Then President Monroe, quite rightly, but doing it as though it were a unilateral act, although he had had previous consultations with the British Government, asserted that America would prevent any foreign power from re-asserting authority in Latin America. At that time the United States navy was not in a position to fight the navies of even minor European powers. The United States navy was good and efficient, but it was very small. I do not think that it possessed a single ship-of-the-line. It had only some very efficient frigates.
Australia is in much the same position as America was in at that time. The most important thing that we can do as far as foreign policy is concerned is to effect a friendship and an understanding with the United States. That must be done not by public debate but by private consultation. I believe that all our emissaries in Washington have carried out their duty in that regard. I believe that the views that some of us have hitherto held but which are not asserting in the face of the present crisis, because they would endanger the bargaining position at the moment, have been put trenchantly and strongly before the American Government. I would say that our main purpose in foreign affairs is continual co-operation with the United States. Unfortunately, when one partner is so much stronger than the others, the others in many cases can do no more than urge persuasion. The time may come when Australia will be forced to adopt a particular attitude, irrespective of the consequences, but in this present crisis it would be very foolish for us to take that line.
Let me deal briefly with what we are approving in adopting the statement that we have before us. We are approving, first the stand that we recognize the authority of the Netherlands, that we will continue to recognize that authority and that we will oppose all efforts to alter it by force. Secondly, in his statement the Minister for External Affairs quite clearly stated that we adhere to the principle that the interests of the indigenous inhabitants should be a primary consideration in all negotiations. Some speeches by honorable senators opposite gave the impression that this had not been done. What will finally come before the Parliament in the future as a concrete proposal is at present hypothetical. But when a proposal does come before the Parliament we will be able to discuss it. If we think the proposal is bad, and if we think there has been any yielding to force, we can say so. But at this moment we have not yielded to force and it is not good to anticipate that we may.
I support the motion for the printing of the paper, but I am not happy about everything in the Minister’s statement. Many things in the statement I find very very difficult to swallow and so, too, I think, does the entire civilized world. But, as the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Gorton) pointed out last night, one of the most dangerous things that could happen in the United Nations would be to have a division on this issue solely on the question of the racial origin of the people concerned. Unfortunately, the newly enfranchised Asian and African nations are inclined to take the view that this matter should be resolved having regard to the racial origin of the people concerned. Unfortunately, we have had some gross inconsistencies from some of the Asian nations. India has asserted that United Nations authority must always be recognized - that there must be no appeal by force - yet that country, just before an election - and for election purposes, so it is alleged - suddenly seized a little enclave. I think that India was entitled to that enclave, but the bad precedent that was set then is a factor in the present situation in that it has tended to increase the belligerence and intransigence of the Indonesians.
I hope that this dispute over West New Guinea will be settled by negotiation and that the settlement will be just and honorable to all parties concerned, but I will not condemn in advance something that at present does not exist. I do not in any way approve of the threats of force that have been made or of the small amount pf force that has been used up to date. It may be that this matter will be brought before the United Nations if force is used or if the threat of force continues. A situation may be created in which there will be a general urge within the United Nations to go into the matter, but at the moment the United Nations has, I may say, really defaulted on the issue. The United Nations has had before it resolutions which, I think, put the case very justly. I think Indonesia’s case was a very good one. I think that the compromise case suggested by certain African nations was also a good one. But those cases were not accepted. The United Nations passed this issue back to the two contending parties, and there the matter rests.
I emphasize that in supporting this motion we are not approving of any future settlement; we are not saying that we will give our consent to an unjust settlement. We are saying that at the moment the sovereignty of the Netherlands is undisputed by anybody except Indonesia. We support that position and we hope that the present method of having meetings between the two powers concerned will bring before the Senate, the other House of this Parliament and all the nations of the world a just and honorable solution.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy President, it appears that this debate on the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) on 15th March has brought to the full light of day the confusion that exists over this most important matter. The speech made last night by Senator Gorton, representing the views of the Minister for External Affairs, did absolutely nothing to clear up the confusion that remains so evident not only in the mind of the Minister, as shown in his statement, but also in the minds of people generally in both Houses of this Parliament.
I believe that the main cause of that confusion is in either our inability or our stubborness to realize the facts of presentday Asian life. For better or worse, the the Japanese, when they came down the Dutch East Indies archipelago, started the chain reaction of events some of which we are now debating. They displaced the Dutch people who had been virtually in possession of that archipelago for well over 300 years. In many ways, the Dutch East Indies had been a profitable colony of the Dutch. It had assisted the Dutch to maintain their economic status in Europe. It had been a source of revenue for Dutch colonial families. It had been a source of training for the Dutch air force, army and navy. In many ways it was an essential part of the Dutch empire.
The Dutch were displaced by the Japanese and then the time came when the Japanese themselves were defeated. So this situation arose: The Indonesian people, who had been residents of these islands collectively without any strict relationship of language or, for that matter, race, encouraged by the opportunity presented by the weakening of the grip of the Dutch by historical events, revolted against the traditional rule and with assistance, both moral and physical, from other parts of the world succeeded in proclaiming their independence and creating the United States of Indonesia.
I believe that at that time people throughout the world, who had subscribed to the United Nations Charter and inserted clauses to give to all countries, large and small, the right to self-determination and self-government, were pleased to see this process bringing into effect the objects and ideals of the United Nations, to see the old colonial powers relinquishing their traditional grip on far-flung parts of the world’s surface, and to see the commencement of a re-adjustment period in which people were being asked to mind their own business and to allow other people to get On with their business. That process, in which most of the old European powers have struck very similar problems, has continued.
The British people, in their wisdom, have adopted a different approach. After some experience, they have recognized that the days of philandering are over, the days of colonialism are over and the days of longrange, gun-boat diplomacy are over. The
British people to-day, realizing those things, are attempting to become members of the united family of Europe. In such a compact group, they have better prospects of expansion and development. Under another arrangement their strength could be dissipated and disintegration could follow. The British people left a legacy in the countries to which they had gone in the course of their empire building. It is a lasting legacy. They have left some great laws and some basic institutions that are eternal. They have not left behind them a legacy of hatred. They have not left behind them a great love for their economic methods, but they have left a legacy of respect.
Let us compare the British record with that of other countries. First of all, we can look at the record of the Dutch in another part of the world - South Africa.
– The South Africans are a different people.
– They are European people. Perhaps you will allow me to develop this theme for a moment. We tried to bring a little justice to South Africa at the time of the Boer War. The Dutch settlers there established their own rights. They said, in effect, “ Whichever way we want to govern we will govern “. The Belgian people’s history of colonization does not bear repetition. In the Congo to-day there is a legacy of bitterness and hatred unparalleled in modern history. The Belgian attitude was to divide and rule, to leave nothing in the country to enable the people to have a continuity of government processes or decent living, and to take everything that could be taken in the hope that the racket would last. But the time came when, by fair means or foul, the local people found the strength and the force to overthrow their historical rulers. And what was the result? The result was chaos, bitterness, strife, hatred and internecine warfare. It is not a pretty picture.
In Algeria to-day we are seeing the results of a long term of French rule, presumably for the good of the Algerian people. Of course, it is terribly important in European politics to have a long section of the Mediterranean coastline protected. Having that area more or less safe has been a great advantage to the British, too. Although, the French settlers possibly went there with good intentions to help the Algerian people to get self-determination, the stage has been reached where the Algerian people are asking for self-determination, and1 a part of their method of achieving this is to kick out the French people who have lived there for many, many generations. The greatgreatgrandsons of early French settlers are saying: “ This is our land. Why should you want to kick us out? “ Now we witness the chaos, the fratricide and the bitterness that are being reported in Algeria. We know the story of Spain as a colonizing power. We know the story of Portugal. South America is in a state of ferment, with military coups, uncertainty and instability.
Australia has always been fortunate! We have lived under the umbrella of the British people. We have had their army, navy and air force as our backstop historically, and a good army, navy and air force they have been, too. Only on one occasion, in the last world war, was Australia threatened at all, and despite the fact that England herself was engaged in a life and death struggle, the alliances that we had made were such that we were able to repel the first attempt to over-run this land of ours. This brings us up to the immediate problem that Australia is facing to-day, and I should like to come right up to the minute, because in this morning’s edition of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ the front page headlines read: “ Pressure rises in The Hague for New Guinea transfer”. The report is as follows: -
The Hague, April 4.- Political pressure is mounting in The Hague for the transfer of West New Guinea to Indonesia.
At a recent meeting of the executive of the governing Catholic Peoples Party, most speakers favoured a transfer of the territory, political sources revealed to-day.
The consensus of Dutch Press comment is that a war over New Guinea would be a tragedy and a waste of lives and property at a time when opportunities for fruitful co-operation between Holland and its former colony were potentially so great. a report from Djakarta says that Indonesian aircraft and warships patrolling the New Guinea coast have been ordered to shoot enemy vessels on sight.
That is the situation that we are facing at this hour. The Minister for External
Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) in his report on the situation said -
It might be helpful to remind the House of the main elements of Australian policy as then conveyed by the Prime Minister to General Nasution. In essence -
We recognized Dutch Sovereignty, we dealt with the Netherlands as the sovereign power and we approved of the policy of ultimate selfdetermination which the Netherlands had adopted in relation to the indigenous inhabitants of West New Guinea.
The Indonesian people claim that the Dutch gave up their sovereignty by agreement when they signed the agreement with Indonesia. But under the agreement the area that is in dispute to-day was held as a reserve area for a period of twelve months, principally, it was understood, to allow Dutch nationals a stepping stone for deciding what their future destiny would be, but generally to give time to the Dutch to move out of the archipelago completely. I think that generally speaking the people of Australia joined in world opinion that it was a good thing that some agreement had been reached to stop the bloodshed and bitterness that went on in Indonesia from the end of World War II. until 1949, when tens of thousands of people lost their lives in this struggle. But in 1949 there was a change of government and a change of policy in this country. I go as far as to say that that change of government policy has resulted in the problem which we are facing to-day. The consistent attitude of the Australian Government towards world affairs, advocated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - at one time advocated by Sir Percy Spender as Minister for External Affairs, followed by Lord Casey, and finally by the present Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) - has unfortunately been that Australia continues to live in an Asian sea and yet supports European politics. I consider that the time is long overdue when Australia can afford the luxury of European foreign politics or, for that matter, North Atlantic foreign politics, because we will live for a long time in Asia, and our destinies are irrevocably moulded in Asia.
– Those comments are incongruous with the honorable senator’s statements when he was referring to the Coral Sea.
– They are not incongruous at all.
– There is no antithesis between Asian and European foreign policy.
– There is a sharp antithesis, which has been accentuated by the four gentlemen whom I have mentioned, by your Government and by the honorable senator himself, in failing to face up to the inevitability of history. The position as I see it, and as is shown by all the reports that we have before us, is that the Indonesian people have joined the AfroAsian bloc. The United Nations itself has a very strong Afro-Asian bloc. The new nations, which have been quite entitled to become members of the United Nations, are voting as an Afro-Asian bloc. On the four occasions when this problem has been before the United Nations, the Afro-Asian bloc has voted for the Indonesians and Australia has voted for the Dutch. Last night Senator Gorton referred to the machinery of the United Nations under which a twothirds majority must be obtained to carry a resolution. Every one must know of the manipulation that goes on at diplomatic levels to get blocks of votes. Certain people feel obliged to some countries, and they will lend their support to one matter in return for the promise of support for another. Unfortunately this type of politics has gone quite deeply into the workings of the United Nations and it could be dealing a very serious blow to the future of that great organization. The Indonesian people themselves claim that when they brought this issue before the United Nations in 1957, it was in the face of strong opposition from the Netherlands Government. The conflict that is basic to this whole problem is explained in this document, a statement made by Dr. Subandrio, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, on Monday, 9th October, 1961, in the general debate in the Sixteen Regular Session of the General Assembly. He said -
What is this conflict, what is really this dispute on West Irian between Indonesia and the Netherlands? What are the issues at stake?
For better or worse, and whether we believe the Indonesians or not, it is quite reasonable to find out what they are thinking and what their leaders are prepared to say in the presence of their fellow men and in a statement subject to the searchlight of criticism from delegates of other nations. The Indonesians say this: -
The conflict is a remnant of a colonial problem regarding a certain territory of Indonesia which was unresolved when Indonesia gained its formal recognition of its independence at the end of 1949.
That is a challenging statement, but evidently we do not recognize that state of affairs.
– Does the statement go on to develop and to explain the legal basis of the claim?
– The Indonesians say it is not a legal but political claim, and it is useless talking about sovereignty.
– Who says that?
– The Indonesians say quite plainly that their claim is not legal - that it is political.
– They claim that they made an agreement with the Dutch that the political status of West New Guinea would be settled within one year. It has not been settled within twelve months and the Indonesians are evidently and obviously asking, “ When it is going to be settled?” Dr. Subandrio’s statement to the General Assembly continued: -
– Are you implying that you think their claim is supportable?
– I am reading the Indonesians’ claim for support. It continues: -
It was however, agreed that the issue in dispute, the political status of West Irian or West New Guinea, would be settled by the Governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands through negotiation within one year.
They think that.
– Do you support any claim to resort to hostilities if negotiations fail to settle the dispute?
– I believe that Australia should be vitally concerned in this matter. Australia has consistently supported only one side - the Dutch. We have recognized their sovereignty over the land over which the Indonesians claim politicial sovereignty.
– You support Arthur Calwell every time you get up to speak. You are equally open to condemnation.
– If you will allow me to put the case that the Indonesians are putting forward-
– I have heard the argument four or five times. It is put in the same way. It is no different.
– No, that is true.
– Give us some reason for the argument.
– I am explaining the reasons on both sides, as I proceed with my remarks. As I have said, the dispute was to be settled within one year. The statement goes on -
Complete and unconditional sovereignty over Indonesia was formally transferred by the Netherlands, irrevocably, as the agreement clearly stated. And what Indonesia was and is, one could read in the Netherlands Constitution of 1948, which replaced the term “Netherlands East Indies” into Indonesia, the newly accepted name for the former Dutch colony.
That is the basis for the whole dispute, but the Minister for External Affairs, in the statement now before us, says: “ We recognize Dutch sovereignty. We deal with the Netherlands as the sovereign power “. This word sovereignty, like so many abstract ideas, can be interpreted in whatever way suits people to interpret it. Its meaning has even come up for discussion herewhether sovereignty is political or legal, whether it is exercised by occupation by force or by occupation by persuasion. At what moment does sovereignty over a country change? Which political party within a country has the right to transfer sovereignty? We could have a combination of these aspects in an interpretation of the word sovereignty, over which wars can be fought. Yet when one nails the matter down, sovereignty is only an idea in the mind of, perhaps, one or two men who have decided on their own interpretation and have interpreted it for a political party. Possibly General Nasution himself has determined on an interpretation for the whole of the Indonesian people - 70,000,000 or 80,000,000 persons - and for the Indonesian army. I could enlarge on that theme and say that General Nasution, in conjunction with President Soekarno is determining what is meant by sovereignty. The Dutch people themselves are not sure about their own interpretation. The report in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “, to which I referred1 earlier, goes on -
The Dutch Lower House is expected to express disappointment at Indonesia’s attitude to negotiation over West New Guinea.
The debate will be on a letter received from the Prime Minister, Dr. Jan de Quay, on March 27 . . .
Predicting a unanimous House on the issue, political sources pointed out that Holland’s second big party - the Socialists - has always advocated transfer of West New Guinea to Indonesia.
So, within Holland itself, there is a big difference of opinion - a political difference - on which country should have sovereignty over this area. In a period of twelve or thirteen years when this dispute has been simmering just below the surface, Australia has had an opportunity to use its good offices in the United Nations to bring about some reasonable solution of the problem. My solution is that the Indonesian people should be given a mandate over West Irian or West New Guinea, and made responsible to the United Nations for submitting reports to it, as Australia is obliged to do in respect of New Guinea. A committee of powers should visit the country periodically and make its reports to the United Nations. That responsibility, in the final analysis is to ensure for the people of West New Guinea self-determination in a form acceptable in essense to the other members of the United Nations.
– Is that the Labour Party’s considered judgment?
– It is my considered judgment as to the ultimate solution of this problem.
– Would you repeat your last two sentences?
– I said that the United Nations should, first, give a mandate over this area to the Indonesians. It would then become part of the United States of Indonesia, as Papua and New Guinea have become part of Australia. Over a period of years, a committee of the United Nations would travel to the area and make reports.
– It would be under the control of the Trusteeship Council?
– Yes, ultimately the stone-age people would become, in the opinion of other nations, competent for selfdetermination.
– What is the difference between that and the Dutch proposition to the United Nations last November?
– Only that the Dutch continue to cling to something to which, by international morality - if I may use the phrase - they have no claim other than that they are there and will not move, although some of their own people want them to move.
– Your proposition is the same as the Dutch proposition.
– No. The United Nations may yet appoint both the Indonesians and the Dutch as trustees.
– And Australia.
– And Australia. All of these possibilities have not been canvassed by Australia. We have not been mediators in the matter. We have plumped for the Dutch. We are the only nation to do so. The United States of America has said, “ No, this is a local problem “. The United Kingdom has said “ No “. The position has been left in such a confused state that armed conflict on our very borders could develop. This has resulted from neglect and a predetermined policy of supporting the outworn idea that the Dutch are better friends than the Indonesians. The position may not sound good when it is put into words, but that is what it amounts to. We shall have to live longer as neighbours of the Indonesians than as neighbours of the Dutch.
– The indigenous people would prefer to have a continuation of Dutch occupation.
– We do not know that. Perhaps the indigenous people have known only the Dutch. We have some very good contacts in our area of New Guinea. It is our purpose to build up a native elite in that area. We must provide opportunities for education and even guarantees of property. This will enable the elite to obtain a big following amongst the native people. I think that we are. making a big mistake in allowing native land to be alienated for settlement. When the time comes for us to grant selfdetermination to our Territory, we could quite easily face the same problem as has been experienced in Algeria. Some very deeply bred superstitions and hoodoos prevail amongst primitive people. We have witnessed the cargo cult and the difficulties over payment of taxes. We must divide the land amongst the native people and show them how to grow rubber, coffee, cocoa, and’ coconuts for the extraction of oils for soaps.
– They know all these things.
– They have not the ability to market, although they know how to grow the crops.
– They have very good co-operatives.
– I agree with the principle of co-operatives. The policy of private ownership of land-
– That has been stopped for the last ten years, with the exception of a few blocks for war service land settlement.
– That is right. The time may come when that will present a great difficulty. There could be difficulties because fertile areas in the Wahgi valley have become alienated. There could be a challenge to that.
– You try to get some land and see how you get on.
– If it cannot be done, I am very pleased. I do not want succeeding generations of Australians to face the accusation that we were colonialists. We must mean what we say when we promise self-determination. We must be there only to help the native people to develop techniques, to teach them the know-how, to give them education and health services, and help them to help themselves. That should be the objective of assistance by one country to another.
– I think it has been too long since you went there.
– It is six or seven years since I was last in the Territory and I must go there again very soon. It is part of one’s education and the duty of every member of the Parliament to keep closely in touch with affairs in that region, because New Guinea is our mirror to the world. We will be judged in the courts and forums of the world by our success ia practising what we preach. I must agree that tremendous strides have been taken in our section of New Guinea. They compare more than favourably with developments in the area under dispute. One of the great causes of difficulty is that the previous administrators of West New Guinea have left so little. The area has been impoverished rather than enriched by hundreds of years of Dutch occupation.
The situation has almost reached flashpoint, with national pride, face, numbers, blocs, colour of skin, and all sorts of other considerations complicating the dispute. It has developed to the stage where it has become very dangerous, but the time is still not too late. The matter has been before the United Nations four times. Something must be radically wrong with one party or the other or with everybody concerned, in view of the failure to reach some decision. The Indonesians and the Dutch both claim to want a settlement through the United Nations. According to press reports, the Dutch are prepared to wash their hands altogether of the problem. That may be their attitude after to-night’s debate. We are closely concerned. The situation, if not properly handled, could develop into a shooting war within 400 miles of our frontiers. We cannot sit back and be complacent about that. We must use our good offices, not wishful-thinking offices, not offices imbued with the idea of maintaining the status quo, or of reestablishing it from the remnants. We must face the realities of life. The same thing applies to press reports of people complaining that we are selling wool and wheat to Communist China. We must get into our minds the idea that if we cannot sell these things to the Common Market countries, we must sell them somewhere else if we are to survive. The people who try to persuade us that we must not deal with Communist countries should be told plainly that unless we can find markets to replace those we may lose in Europe we will not survive as a nation. We must change our thinking. Some people have the idea that if we send our wheat to Communist China, it will make the Chinese so strong that they will be able to come down here to fight us. They believe that if we send these people our wool, it will keep them warm, more of their children will survive in infancy, and there will be more of them to come down here to fight us.
Diplomatic and economic relationships in Asia are in a state of flux. They are continually changing. There are some flash points there, and it is one of those flash points that we are discussing to-day. The Government has the numbers in this Parliament and is in a position to determine the foreign policy of the nation. I ask the Government to reconsider the policy, originally stated by Sir Percy Spender, of encouraging the breaking of the agreement for the settlement of this dispute within one year. Perhaps Dutch financial interests thought they might gain something by delay - that is the idea in the minds of the Indonesians - and persuaded the Dutch Government to defer the settlement of the dispute. We should say to our friends and to the neutral powers in the United Nations that it is of great importance to Australia to have this matter settled. We want a settlement. The United Nations is the only body with the necessary machinery to bring about a settlement. The quicker it can be done, the better it will be.
In my contribution to this debate, I reaffirm my belief that no lasting good can come from a shooting war. The only hope for mankind is to avoid war. The only instrument we have at our disposal, ready for effective action, is the United Nations. For goodness’ sake, let us not by-pass the United Nations. Let us refer this problem to it in the hope that it will find a solution. In that way, the United Nations could enhance its prestige and give effect to the great ideals which inspired its establishment.
.- Our distinguished Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) has presented to both Houses of the Parliament a statement on a matter which, I think, is pregnant with importance to the continent of Australia. I believe that in discussing the present situation between Indonesia and the Netherlands, we should have an acute sense of responsibility. We should divest ourselves of party-political smallness and should try to ennoble this Parliament by rising to the occasion and expressing a national view, completely unembarrassed by the narrow divisions of party politics. We should keep uppermost in our minds the security and welfare of Australia during the next 100 years. In that spirit, Mr. President, I deprecate the irrelevancies and the partisanship that have, to some extent, crept into some speeches. I appreciate the objectivity of other speeches, even though the conclusions arrived at were unfortunate. Senator Cole, in his speech last night, expressed some sentiments from which I hasten to divorce myself completely, but he did attempt to sum up the relevant facts for us and make an assessment of them.
It would be unfortunate if the impression were created by an utterance in this Parliament that this is a contest between Europe and Asia. We in Australia have* grown to a maturity of understanding and we value the qualities of the Asian peoples. One of our foremost objectives, wherever we find Asian or African peoples who need assistance, should be to provide democratic institutions and to create economic conditions in which those peoples can come to maturity. The education that some ‘of these people have absorbed, and the energy of character they have displayed, convinces us that there is no longer an antithesis between Asia and Europe.
We espouse the cause of the United Nations and we believe that peace is the first requisite in the lives of all races, European and Asian. In this country we will not tolerate any threat of force or demonstration of force that affects our interests, physical or otherwise. A resort to force for commercial interests, or territorial gain, is absolutely inimical to the Australian outlook, whether it is expressed from the Labour side of politics or from the Liberal-Country Party side of politics. There is, I believe, complete unanimity on that. There should be unequivocal condemnation of the threat of force or of the exercise of force against our national interests, not only our physical interests but also our other interests and institutions.
It is clear that threats of force have been made, but I differ slightly from Senator Gorton in describing what has occurred. I believe that some acts of aggression have occurred, but they have been sporadic and insignificant up to date and may indicate, not really aggression, but simply irritation. While those threats and exercises are geographically proximate to our continent, as yet they have not transgressed the line which marks the frontier of Austraiian interests, physical and institutional, the line beyond which they must not go.
– Ils ne passeront pas!
– Yes. It is the unhappy situation that this trivia of warlike operations is being engendered in the area to the north of our continent. It is a possibility that those operatons will become more serious.
In discussing the situation, as we are bound to do since we in this Parliament are charged with the duty to safeguard the interests and the security of Australia, it is necessary to express a point of view at this time. These unhappy circumstances proceed from a dispute which is now twelve years old. But there is nothing in the fact that the dispute has lingered on for twelve years which justifies the resort by either side to aggression. The dispute is of a certain nature, and that needs to be understood. It is a sequel, one small incidental sequel, to the surrender by the Netherlands of sovereignty of all its Indonesian possessions except this particular area of West New Guinea. The instrument of transfer specifically provided that that area should be excepted from the transfer, and it further provided that both parties would, by negotiation, arrange terms of transition for the area. It follows from that, Mr. President, that if negotiation fails to arrive at an agreement with regard to that area, neither side has the slightest right, legally, politically or, much as I detest the word, morally-
– Why should you detest it?
– Because I am not a judge of morals. Except in most exceptional circumstances, I do not presume to judge. If negotiations have failed to secure agreement, it is implicit beyond dispute that neither party is entitled to claim that the 1949 decision in regard to the excepted area should be changed, unless the change is to be made by processes which are acceptable to the international community of nations.
There is an alternative basis upon which Indonesia may make her claim, as was mentioned by Senator Vincent last night. I refer to a declaration of independence. Here again, not for the sake of disagreement but simply to put a point of view that seems to me to be sound, I differ slightly from my colleague. We all agree that the mere act of a declaration of independence does not give insurrectionists sovereignty, but there are notable instances of declarations of independence being followed by recognition by other countries, and of sovereignty being established anew by a declaration of independence. Those instances, I think, might be associated significantly with 4th July. It would be possible, if there had been a declaration and if it were recognized by the international community, for Indonesia’s claim to sovereignty to this excepted area to be acknowledged by the international community. But no one in this world, in his wildest flights of imagination, would claim that that was a factual situation. Therefore, on either basis Indonesia starts off this campaign of irritating exercises in hostilities with the handicap that neither international law nor international opinion countenances the basic claim.
Although that is the situation, if there is a feeling of injustice on the part of the Indonesian nation, and if the Indonesians think that they are being deprived of a part of the world to which they are legitimately entitled by reason of its geographical position, or by reason of racial characteristics or identity of institutions and outlook, they are quite justified in presenting all the arguments that they think might persuade the international political community to come to the conclusion that Indonesia should have dominion over that separate area. But when Indonesia adopts wrong methods to achieve that purpose, she must meet with a strong statement from Australia. Those wrong methods are deprecated, particularly when hostilities follow the visit that we were honoured to have within the last two years of the representative of the Indonesian Government. As we have been told by our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), on that occasion the Indonesian visitor gave us an unequivocal assurance that Indonesia would not resort to force in the solution of this problem.
If there is one thing that excites respect, which is the basis of friendship, amongst the nations of the world generally and amongst pacific nations especially, it is adherence to the nationally-plighted word. Although statements have been made which may give rise to doubt in the matter, we hope that adherence to the assurance given to Australia that hostilities would not be resorted to in order to solve this problem will be insisted on by the Indonesian nation. By adherence to the plighted word, Indonesia will earn the unqualified respect of her neighbours to the south and to the north, to the east and to the west. Violation of an assurance of that kind would be a disquieting factor which might erode the respect that we, speaking for Australia, earnestly wish to develop.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was addressing myself to a discussion of the situation in which the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands places Australia. Having dealt with our fundamental approach, I want now to advert to the duty of Australia so far as this dispute is concerned. I point out first that Australia has no treaty obligations to support the Netherlands. The Netherlands Government alone is responsible for its decisions. It has never been in a position where it could claim support from Australia as a matter of obligation. The news to-day relating to the attitude to this dispute within the Netherlands itself indicates that the Dutch people have no great enthusiasm for the critical course of action which defence of West New Guinea would involve. I was interested to find in John Gunther’s book, “ Inside Europe To-day “, a passage in which, dealing with the Benelux countries, reference is made to this issue. The passage is of interest and reads -
When the Dutch pulled out of Indonesia in 1949, the status of the great island of New Guinea, the second largest in the world, was left unsettled. New Guinea was not included in the transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia, but the Indonesians have claimed it ever since. The eastern half is, however, still administered by Australia, and the western half by the Dutch. The Indonesians take the line that the Dutch in West Irian, as they call this territory, occupy it illegally, -
I do not think that is quite accurate - and threaten to take it over. But the Dutch refuse to budge. This attitude is not so much a reflection of old-style colonialism as one might think. For instance, the Netherlander have promised their segment of New Guinea self-determination after a ten-year period of tutelage, whereas the Indonesians, on their side, apparently intend to incorporate West Irian into Indonesia; it is the Indonesians who are the “ colonialists “ in this case, rather than the Dutch. The Dutch area of the island, as big as France, is populated by people many of whom still seem to be living in the Stone Age; I have heard a Dutch sympathizer describe it as a “ worthless inferno “. It has some of the most impenetrable swamps - also mountain country - in the world, is still largely an untracked wilderness, and produces nothing of value. Among 700,000 people there are no fewer than four hundred different dialects. But the Dutch want to hold on for a variety of reasons. First, prestige. Second, a surviving overlay of bitterness vis-a-vis Indonesia - a delight in twisting Mr. Sukarno’s ear. Third, religious impulses. The Calvinist tradition is strong in the Netherlands and many citizens feel that the Dutch nation has a duty to raise up the Papuans of New Guinea, educate them, before letting them go. Fourth, the New Guinea operation costs about £8,800,000 a year at the moment, a large sum for Holland, but it might turn out to be profitable in time.
That objective statement by John Gunther does not indicate to me any great national sentiment on the part of the Dutch, nor does it indicate compelling reasons in favour of the Dutch case. It does not indicate that the international community should be attracted to this issue as one upon which to risk world peace. When I reflect that we have no treaty obligations to the Dutch, it seems to me to be lacking a sense of reality to suggest that we should endanger Australia’s interests, by needlessly involving Australia in this dispute.
Taking Indonesia’s attitude in the matter, I do not think there is a vestige of basis for a legal claim by Indonesia to West New Guinea. There is merit in Indonesia’s claim to embrace this area politically with-‘ in the rest of the republic. A much more’ logical concept would be that the United Nations, having appropriated the eastern half of the island to a trust arrangement, should embrace the entire island within that arrangement and bring it to the stage where it may be responsible for its own development. The intrinsic merits of either side are not such as to persuade me that Australia’s national interests require that our security should be submitted to any risk by supporting either of the individual contestants.
Another consideration that may determine our attitude should be considered. It is a consideration that William Morris
Hughes put forward so valiantly at Versailles when he claimed the right df Australia to the protectorate of eastern New Guinea. He said that that territory was cardinal to our defence and he was looking at the possibility of invasion from the north. But in the 40 years that have passed since then, this world, from a defence point of view, has changed so radically that the considerations that so properly actuated William Morris Hughes in 1919 pale into unimportance to-day. I recall the way in which Sir Winston Churchill took note of the evolution of events with regard to Suez when he withdrew from Suez in about 1955. Mere proximity of land masses to-day does not necessarily threaten the security of our country. Having regard to the description of the terrain of West New Guinea - a swamp land with precipitous mountains - it is, in my view, quite unreal to suppose that any potential invader would make that area even a depot for an attack upon this country.
Turning to the argument that people whose actions may be in some way inimical to our interests may be placed on the boundary of our trust territory of eastern New Guinea, I say that we have no right to determine who will be our neighbour. In any event, the body that should act in respect of any intrusion into eastern New Guinea is the United Nations, because we superintend eastern New Guinea simply as trustee for the United Nations. Therefore, despite the geographical proximity of West New Guinea to the mainland of Australia and to eastern New Guinea, our trust territory, I believe that the defence significance of. the appropriation of West New Guinea by Indonesia is of comparatively little importance in this world of guided missiles in which the effective engagement of an enemy 2,000 miles away is possible to-day, whereas 40 years ago a range of 200 miles was significant.
There is another consideration on purely the defence angle, Mr. President. Our responsible Minister for External Affairs has told us that neither the United Kingdom nor the United States of America is prepared to take the initiative in establishing defence arrangements against possible attack from Indonesia. I take it that that view is based on the idea that Indonesia’s pretended attacks and irrita tive skirmishes up to date are to set a trap designed to precipitate hostile operations by us and that Indonesia’s moves in this respect are stimulated by Communist China or Communist Russia. If that were the means of causing a conflict involving the East and the West, it would be such a betrayal of the true interests of Australia’s security that any government that even conceived the idea of taking the risk would not deserve to live either now or in history.
Therefore, I believe that all the defence considerations combine with the ordinary international considerations to compel Australia to the conclusion that we are not obliged to intervene in this dispute and the occasion has not yet arisen for us to defend our territory or our interests, despite these skirmishes.
That leaves one with the final problem, namely, what course should be taken. If we consider the matter objectively, I believe that we will recognize that, in January, Mr. Calwell made statements which could well be understood by thoughtful people to mean that, flushed with a political near-victory in December, he was a little over-exultant and inclined to rattle the sabre. When I say “ rattle the sabre “, I use Senator Vincent’s appropriate term, which does Mr. Calwell credit. It does not impute to him what Senator Gorton imputed to him, namely, that in saying that hostilities would have to be faced .he was asking for our forces to be mobilized. However, that is a passing phase, and now it is unhelpful for us to dwell upon that statement. It is also unhelpful for the Opposition to accuse this Government of being faithless to Australia’s interests.
The plain fact is that a few weeks ago, due to the good offices of an emissary from the United States of America, the Netherlands and Indonesia were brought to the conference table. Since then, they have separated, but to my knowledge no definite declaration has been made by those who brought the two nations to the conference table that further negotiations are impossible. Therefore, I believe that faith should be placed in our diplomatic channels which say that the opportunity to continue negotiations exists and may produce peaceful results.
I do not suppose for one moment - as I listened attentively to Senator Gorton’s speech last night I did not understand him to put this view to the Senate - that if negotiations proved to be fruitless our Government would not then join any responsible nation or group of nations which asked that this matter be reviewed in the forum of the United Nations. The only issue is whether Australia should take the initiative now. In a matter that is so pregnant with explosive elements and not confined to the Indonesia-West New Guinea area but capable of extending far beyond that area, surely it is prudent and surely it does credit to our sense of responsibility for us to leave the initiative in that respect to nations that have interests in this issue that are much more paramount than ours. In advancing that view I am not influenced very much by the fact that the last United Nations vote on the resolution that was put forward by the Netherlands was 53 for and 36 against, and that therefore the resolution failed to get the required twothirds majority. That is a factor, but I believe that the majority would change in changing circumstances.
I submit, Mr. President, that it is prudent that Australia should not take the initiative in a matter so pregnant with explosive elements, when we can rely upon nations whose interests in this issue are much more paramount than ours. If there is a need to bring the matter to the United Nations in order to quell any incipient conflict, I believe that the initiative should be taken by such nations. I do not think that there is in this Parliament a soul who has the idea that if that initiative were taken Australia would not be steadfastly in support of all the authority that the United Nations could muster to bring to resolve this dispute in a manner consistent with United Nations principles in respect of international peace.
Therefore, Mr. President, I find great satisfaction, as a member of this Parliament with the privileges of membership of it that still remain, in taking part in this debate and having the opportunity to express as responsibly as I can my views on the national interest in this dispute. Indeed, this dispute is so close to the Australian coastline as to confront us with a problem in relation to external affairs in as acute a form as we have ever had to face. I hope,
Mr. President, that the Senate will think that in what I have said I have discharged that duty and taken advantage of that opportunity responsibly. I believe that the conclusion for which I have argued is the soundest basis for Australia’s decision on this issue.
.- Mr. President, the continuing crisis in regard to West New Guinea has had one good effect in Australia; that is, it has begun to awaken Australians to the facts of life. We as a people have not been very concerned1 with external affairs. There has been a tendency to concentrate on what happens inside our country and to feel that because we were once in a little backwater of the world, away from the big countries, we could go on in that way in the years to come. We now realize that the world is at our front doorstep, and that is a good thing because it will induce us to think more and more about the future and what we must do.
The West New Guinea crisis in recent months has given Australians a grave shock. They have realized for the first time in their history they have a land boundary with an Asian country. That has made many Australians feel very uncomfortable. Even though they have not been greatly interested in the world outside, there has always been a certain underlying fear of Asia, one aspect of which is revealed in what is called our white Australia policy. Apart from that underlying fear that has affected our thinking, there is a belief among many Aus”tralians that if Indonesia got West New Guinea to-morrow it would be only a month or two before the claim would be set up for the rest of New Guinea; it would be only a month or two before infiltrators would be over the border into eastern New Guinea demanding that the Australian capitalist exploiters should get out and allow the people of eastern New Guinea to be united with their brothers in the west.
– Do you think that will happen?
– I think that will happen.
– They are not brothers, though.
– They are not brothers, but I think it will happen. There
Is this tendency throughout the East to-day, and one of the latest instances of it is the claim by the Philippines for North Borneo. I believe that there are good grounds for the belief that if Indonesia does obtain West New Guinea, it will be only a question of time before the demand is set up that the other part of the country be handed over also. Obviously, that affects our defence considerations. The northern part of our country is largely empty and undeveloped. If New Guinea, either half or whole, falls into Indonesian hands, we will be faced with the prospect that in years to come there will be a demand that some of our northern areas be made available to people who will populate and use them. Therefore, we have a very keen interst in what is happening to West New Guinea.
Nobody can suggest for one moment - at least, it is being suggested, but it cannot be suggested properly - that this is solely a matter for Indonesia and the Dutch to decide. Then arises the question of how we can affect any decisions that are made in order to protect our interests. The first thing that we must bear in mind, especially when considering some of the rather wild demands that have been made for certain action by the Australian Government, is that, even though it hurts bur pride, we are rather small potatoes on the international scene at the present time, and we could not have a very strong effect on the decisions regarding West New Guinea with our own strength; we could have it only if we got assistance from elsewhereif there were thrown into the balance the prestige and the influence of, say, the United Kingdom or the United States of America.
I think we have had ample evidence that neither of those great countries, without the aid of which it would be difficult for us to act, is prepared to take very strong action in regard to the West New Guinea dispute. Therefore, if we have not the strength associated with us to do a great deal, the question arises: Should we get in touch with the Dutch and the Indonesians; should we try to bring the two parties together and endeavour to arrive at a result that may suit them and suit us? The obstacle to that course appears to be that the essential condition set by the Indonesians for entering into any negotiations is that the sole result of the negotiations shall be that they shall get what they want, unconditionally.
– -That is not negotiation.
– That is what they say publicly. It is not negotiation, as Senator Anderson says, but it appears to me that while that is their attitude the prospects of negotiation are torpedoed. There are some people in Australia who seem to be suggesting that we should threaten force, lt has been suggested that the Australian troops in Malaya should be brought home and stationed at Darwin. There has also been the suggestion that we must mobilize our forces for the purpose of taking strong action in the event of any Indonesian attack upon Dutch New Guinea. I want to say two things about that. First, I do not believe that Australia has the defence forces to do anything very effective. I think that our defences to-day, in spite of everything that has been said to the contrary, are in a woeful condition. Therefore, any suggestion that we might take forcible action seems to me to be laughable. I do not believe that we have sufficient strength in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force to take strong action. Secondly, I believe that the sentiment of the Australian people is overwhelmingly against any action that might involve us in war. I read a statement on this subject by Senator Ormonde which did not appear to coincide with the views of his leaders. It stated very definitely that he did not think one drop of Australian blood should be shed for the whole of West New Guinea, and I think that the majority of the Australian people are of that point of view; they definitely do not want anything to be done that might cause that kind of trouble.
Thus, we are faced with the last alternative, that something should be done through the United Nations. Obviously that would be the best way of settling the situation. But I am sorry to say that, from what I can see of the attitude of the United Nations, it appears to regard West New Guinea as an unwanted child which it does not intend to have thrust upon its doorstep. 1 know from people with whom I have spoken who have visited Asia that the leaders of many of the democratic countries there, or the nations which are not in the Communist bloc, are not particularly great admirers of President Soekarno. They are not particularly overjoyed that he should be attempting to convulse their section of the world over West New Guinea. But in a conflict between white colonizers, that is the Dutch, and the Asian peoples, whatever they may think of President Soekarno and whether or not he ought to get West New Guinea, when the chips are down they will support his point of view. Therefore, if there is a situation in which the Asians and the Africans - who form the balance of power in the United Nations to-day - will support the Indonesian claim, I do not see that there is very much to be gained by saying, “ We shall just leave this dispute to the United Nations “. If Australia goes there it will not get any support. The United Nations does not particularly want the matter to be brought before it. Therefore, it appears that not much is to be hoped for from the United Nations though, as I said before, reference of the matter to that organization would obviously be the best way to deal with the situation.
It may be asked now: What should we do? First, I believe that the only thing for us to do is to express our viewpoint that we think these people ought to be given the opportunity of self-determination. Secondly, we ought to go at least as far as publicly supporting the Dutch viewpoint that there should not be a change by force. Thirdly, in spite of the fact that the United Nations does not offer much promise of a successful handling of the situation, we should endeavour to persuade that organization, either openly or in private negotiations, to get the parties together to reach a reasonable agreement. What we should not do is smear either side. There has been too much smearing of the Dutch as brutal colonizers. I suppose that their record as colonizers would be just as good - or just as bad, whichever way you looked at it - as the record as colonizers of people of our own stock. A lot of the attacks made against the Dutch and their attitude have been unjustified. I also do not think we should be smearing the Indonesian leaders. That does noi get us anywhere. I particularly deplore Mr. Calwell’s description of President Soekarno as another Hitler. After all, Australia has to live with Indonesia, and I do not imagine for one moment that it will assist us to live with Asian countries if we describe their leaders in those most insulting terms. I think the abuse of either party in this issue ought to stop.
I want to express this much sympathy with the Dutch by saying that they are putting forward a very sound principle when they claim that their main concern is that the people of West New Guinea shall have the opportunity of self-determination. I do not understand why the suggestion should be made that the Dutch are not justified or sincere in that attitude. I am sure they are not getting any great profit out of West New Guinea at present, and I am prepared to accept their claim that they are willing to agree to a reasonable arrangement and to get out of West New Guinea, provided, as they say, that they feel that the rights of the people of West New Guinea to self-determination are preserved. I find that the Dutch are very good settlers in Australia. I deplore the attacks on them and I only hope that this country can get more Dutch migrants.
I regret that the impression has been spread throughout the Asian world that Australia is a violently disunited country, mainly because of the disputes, statements and counter-statements on foreign policy. I have said it before and I will not labour the point. One of the reasons for the success of the conduct of British foreign policies is that usually it has been possible to get a bipartisan viewpoint as between the great political parties in that country. In Australia, for some reason or other - possibly because we are not mature or because we have never before had to deal with big issues of foreign policy - there is a tendency to regard foreign affairs as a political football that can be kicked this way or that to gain a political advantage, without regard to the fact that the decisions may vitally affect the security and future of the country. I am sorry, therefore, that the Australian Labour Party has not been able to decide to join the Foreign Affairs Committee. I consider that it would be a good thing to have representatives of both sides of politics on that committee. That would affect for the better the thinking of both parties on foreign affairs. Leaving aside that aspect, I say that we ought to be trying to get a unified attitude on foreign affairs.
– Like we have on immigration and customs.
– Yes, as we have on one or two matters. Foreign policy is much more important than migration and some of those other issues. We in this country have only ten or fifteen years in which to get together and to become one people, particularly on that issue. The days when we could afford the luxury of violent party politics are going fast. If one looks at the situation in Asia, in particular, 1 think one can sensibly come to only this conclusion - that within twenty years we will all have to hang together or many of us will hang separately.
– Mr. President, I wish to make a contribution to this debate, and, accordingly, I ask the Senate for leave to do so at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave. - I propose to read a statement which is in similar terms to a statement now being made in another place by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick)-
I have for some time had in mind making a statement on disarmament and the testing of nuclear weapons. As the Senate knows, a conference of 17 nations is discussing these subjects in Geneva at present. The last - the sixteenth - session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted much time to the subject and arranged for the present conference. The meetings began in Geneva on 14th March. Some days earlier, on 2nd March, President Kennedy announced that the United States would resume atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the latter part of April, unless an effective test ban treaty could be signed and put into operation before then. A subcommittee of the Geneva Conference, comprising the three major nuclear powers, has been discussing the possibility of such a treaty. It is therefore particularly appropriate that I should make a statement at this time when our attention is focussed on, and our hopes are centred in, these two sets of negotiations - those on disarmament, which represent the first major negotiations on general disarmament since the ten-nation Disarmament Committee broke up 21 months ago; and the parallel negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty the outcome of which will decide whether or not the United States will resume weapons testing in the atmosphere.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place recently asked if a statement could be made on the “ urgent necessity for an international agreement with adequate safeguards to end the testing of nuclear weapons by all nations and to provide for universal disarmament “. The present statement will respond to this request.
As honorable senators know, the problems involved in negotiations on disarmament and nuclear testing are highly complex and the obstacles to progress are formidable. Sixteen years of patient negotiation and persistent effort by the Western powers have so far yielded agreement between the major powers only on a limited number of general principles, but with nothing to show, unfortunately, in the field of practical application. With the Senate’s agreement I will incorporate in “ Hansard “ as an annex to this statement a review of some important developments in disarmament and nuclear testing over the last year or so. This will place at the disposal of honorable senators in convenient form a great deal of material which I am sure they will find most useful. In the present statement, I propose to deal mainly with the immediate issues before us and the events which have recently taken place. In doing so, I shall refer briefly to some of the basic difficulties which lie in the way of progress in negotiations on these subjects.
The ultimate objective of disarmament negotiations is general and complete disarmament. This means the abolition of armed land, sea and air forces, weapons, armaments, military aircraft, naval vessels, delivery vehicles of all nations throughout the world, with of course the exception of forces and weapons needed for police purposes. I call this the “ ultimate “ objective because clearly it must be a very complex operation, which will take a long time to implement even after the terms and conditions have been agreed on - and experience has shown that that takes long enough.
Because a completely disarmed world cannot, even in the most promising circumstances, be achieved in the immediate future, much thought has been given to partial measures of disarmament which could be rapidly agreed on and promptly carried out. These partial measures can be regarded as the first positive steps in the actual process of disarmament. But they can also be seen as steps towards lowering tension and building up a climate of confidence which would make the next steps easier. They would also help in the process of disarmament by providing first-hand experience of what is involved in the operation.
Such partial measures can take many forms. Some of them merge into proposals which are not so much measures of disarmament as measures to prevent the further spread of armaments. An example is the Irish proposal adopted at the last session of the General Assembly to prevent the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons. Australia supported this proposal.
The negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty bring us to yet another category. A test ban treaty is not, strictly speaking, a disarmament measure at all; it would not necessarily reduce armaments or even keep them at their present levels or with their present distribution. But it could make a most valuable contribution to the achievement of disarmament. In the first place it could slow down the arms race by seriously impairing the ability of the nuclear powers to develop new and more powerful categories of weapons. It could also help prevent the emergence of new nuclear powers. In this way a test ban treaty could help contain the disarmament problem. It is also a field in which it should be possible for both sides to give evidence of sincerity and good faith in their efforts to reach agreement on disarmament. In entering into such an agreement neither side would be required to reduce or even stop increasing its defensive capability; and the safeguards involved should not interfere with the legitimate interests of any party. The successful conclusion of a test ban treaty would, therefore, help to produce a climate of confidence, something basic to progress towards disarmament.
I think I should mention some major obstacles to disarmament for I am sure the Senate would not wish to shrink from realities. There is in the first place mutual distrust and the clash of interests. These are basic: They give rise to the great anxiety throughout the world about the level of armaments and the spiralling arms race. These factors have their origin, of course, in the cold war, in the unremitting pressure from the Soviet Union, its allies and satellites to extend the Communist system throughout the world. There are, of course, sharp and deeply significant disagreements between the Soviet leaders and the leaders of Communist China upon the means towards their objectives; but upon their objectives there is no disagreement.
The Soviet leaders are well aware what nuclear war would mean for their society, and we have reason to believe that they feel the need to reduce the burdens and risk of armaments. Nuclear war could wipe out overnight all the industrial gains, all the achievements of the Russian revolution, as well as tens of millions of their people. Soviet theorists, unlike the Chinese, now say that a general war between the Communist and capitalist systems is not inevitable, and surely the Soviet leadership must become sensitive to what I imagine is the deep human desire for peace among the Soviet people themselves, Again, resources diverted to armaments must be sorely missed in agriculture and other sectors of the Soviet economy.
On the other hand, there has been no real change in basic Communist ideology and objectives, and the Soviet leaders have clearly not given up hope of achieving these objectives though they may hope to achieve them by means short of general war. These means include infiltration, subversion and direct support to insurgency and limited wars which they are pleased to call “ antiimperialist wars of liberation “. They also include the use of trade itself as a weapon towards world domination. The continuance of the cold war in all its forms affects the approach of both parties to disarmament negotiations. It impels the Soviet leaders to seek maximum military or political advantage at every point in the course of the negotiations, rather than to look for common ground and seek solutions for their own sake. Soviet negotiators at disarmament conferences have often seemed more concerned with scoring propaganda points than with getting down to matters of substance. Western negotiators naturally are very cautious in considering what concessions can safely be made because of that suspicion of Soviet bad faith which arises from the cold war. On Doth sides, the cold war works continually against efforts to strengthen the area of mutual confidence on which any serious advance in disarmament negotiations must depend.
These are the basic conditions which make agreement so hard to achieve, but then there are concrete issues which arise as soon as negotiations begin. It is essential to know that every step in an agreement is being in fact effectively carried out. There is the obvious need to ensure that any agreement is being put into effect: To ensure, for instance, that while armaments are being visibly destroyed and their destruction inspected on the one hand, retained levels are not being built up surreptitiously on the other. The Russians say they will accept controls such as are suggested by the West once disarmament has been completed. But they will not agree to inspection and verification arrangements while disarmament is actually going on, that is, arrangements to ensure that new weapons are not being made and new forces raised behind the scenes. They claim that the Western aim in insisting on verification of this kind is to gain military advantage through espionage. The insulation of the Russian State from outside influences of course gives the Soviet Union a military advantage which the West, with its open society cannot have to the same degree. It is this advantage which a refusal to permit inspection is, at least in part, designed to protect. There are no doubt other factors also behind the Soviet attitude - the habits of suspicion and duplicity which flourish in totalitarian States, the Marxist blinkers through which events are seen and interpreted, and indeed the whole character of their closed, controlled society.
Another problem is that of ensuring that at no stage during the process of disarmament will either side acquire a significant military advantage. This is one of the agreed principles included in both the United States-Soviet joint statement and the statement of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. However the latest Soviet plan, like its predecessors, is in conflict with this principle. Most proposals for establishing nuclear-free zones or banning nuclear weapons would give the Soviet an advantage since it is only the western nuclear deterrent which holds in check the Soviet bloc’s undoubted superiority in conventional forces.
There have been a number of such proposals. The Polish Foreign Minister has advocated a plan for a nuclear-free zone in central Europe. At the last session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Swedish Foreign Minister presented proposals whereby countries would eventually undertake not to manufacture nuclear weapons, acquire them or station nuclear weapons for another country on their territory. A group of nations making such declarations he suggested, could then form a nuclear-free zone. At the same session of the United Nations, there was a proposal that the continent of Africa be regarded as a nuclear-free zone and a further proposal which declared the use of nuclear weapons to be a crime against humanity and a direct, violation of the United Nations Charter.
All these proposals would weaken or neutralize the nuclear deterrent without reducing Communist strength in conventional weapons. That is why the Australian delegation to the last General Assembly, along with a great many others, was not able to support the proposals. That is why the Soviet and the Communist fronts in this and other countries from time to time concentrate on attempts to ban nuclear weapons whilst leaving conventional weapons untouched. Too often wellmeaning, unsuspecting people of goodwill take the same line.
I do not want to leave the Senate with the impression that Australia rejects out of hand all measures for partial disarmament; such an impression would be quite wrong. What I have tried to emphasize is that it is necessary, even when considering partial measures, to keep the overall picture in view and to ensure that the partial measures under consideration would not significantly disturb the overall balance and would not leave us and ours to the mercy of the Soviet bloc’s conventional strength. Provided this is done, there are a number of partial measures and first steps which can profitably be pursued. Some of these have been put forward at the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee by the American Secretary of State and the Canadian Minister for External Affairs and an outline of these is given in the matter I was allowed to incorporate in “ Hansard “ by the kindness of the Senate.
Yet another problem is that of ensuring that all important military powers are covered by a disarmament agreement. The United States proposals would apply to all such states from the outset of disarmament. This is not the case under the Soviet plan.
If we go more deeply into the details of disarmament planning, we find still further problems. Both sides agree that even in a disarmed world nations would need to retain armed forces for internal security. In the free democracies these forces might not need to be large. But some countries with more repressive regimes could be expected to demand security forces of considerable size, equipped with weapons which we would regard as more appropriate to military than police operations. In a ‘‘disarmed “ world such forces could be powerful and they would pose an obvious threat to small neighbouring states.
Clearly then there would be need for an international peace force strong enough to impose its will on even the largest nation and unhindered by any national veto. Quite apart from the problems of manning, training, operating and maintaining a standing force of adequate size, and leaving aside such problems as the possible need to equip the force with nuclear weapons, such a system would call for an appreciable sacrifice of national sovereignty. Some of the small states may be prepared for this, but many of them are particularly jealous of their new-won independence. The extent to which limitations on sovereignty in this respect would be accepted by the major powers, or by any Communist government, is at best very doubtful. Yet without some such sacrifice complete and general disarmament is scarcely possible.
Even if these matters were resolved, wc cannot assume that general and complete disarmament would remove the basic problems and disputes between the East and the West, or other sources of international frictions. In a disarmed world there would still be economic and ideological pressures, political rivalries and the pressures of population. These might be even more keenly felt than now. In a world without standing armies, in which all countries had accepted far-reaching limitations on their sovereignty, we could find ourselves increasingly exposed to pressures of this kind. These considerations point up the need to achieve great international rapprochements to underpin disarmament.
This, I realize, is only the barest outline of the problems raised by disarmament, but I hope I have given the House some impression of their scope and complexity. There are so many facets to the question - political, social, economic, military, scientific, technological, demographic - and the pace at which scientific and technological progress is being made is so rapid, that it is hard even for governments to keep abreast of developments and very much harder for individuals. It is certainly not a question which can be resolved by the adoption of slogans - a course too often unfortunately used only for propaganda. Perhaps one of the advantages which is already being derived from the broaderbased committee now meeting in Geneva is a wider appreciation of the complexities of disarmament. The education of public opinion in all countries as to the range and depth of the issues involved is a matter to which much further thought and effort needs to be given. At the government level the United States, as the major Western nation concerned with the problem of security and disarmament, has recently established an arms control and disarmament agency which considers these problems on a full-time basis. It is concerned with basic research into the political, military, social and economic consequences of disarmament. In this field the United States, I am certain, is doing much more than any other country of the East or of the West. Smaller countries cannot, of course, hope to match this basic research but they will need increasingly to devote attention and resources to the details and the full implications of disarmament. Within the limits of our own resources, the Department of External Affairs has long been following and continues to follow developments in the disarmament field always in close consultation with the Department of Defence and other interested departments and organizations.
The negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty deserve particular attention. Although, as I have said, this is not strictly a disarmament measure, the problems involved are in many ways closely related and illustrate some of the difficulties of reaching an agreement with the Soviet. Despite almost continuous efforts for the past three years, agreement is not in sight.
I have set out in the annex to this statement, which 1 have been given leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “, the history of these negotiations and I commend it to honorable senators. I submit that two things emerge clearly from the record. The first is that the Western negotiators have made, and are still making, persistent and persevering efforts to reach agreement; they repeatedly put forward new proposals and modifications in attempts to meet Soviet objections. Time and time again they have sought means of satisfying Soviet demands. These efforts were not reciprocated. The Soviet contribution towards meeting the requirements of Western interests was in no way comparable. Far too often the Soviet has sought opportunities to score propaganda points rather than to make constructive” proposals. Nevertheless, after some two and one-half years of painstaking effort the framework of a treaty was built up: a preamble, seventeen articles and two annexes were agreed on. Then, a year ago, the Soviet Union began to go back on previous agreements in this field and in August last, without warning, it broke the moratorium on testing into which it had voluntarily entered, abruptly announcing that it was no longer prepared to agree to a treaty along the lines on which it had been negotiating for nearly three years.
The second point which emerges is that the Western insistence on the need for effective safeguards, for verification and inspection, and for an impartial international system of verification and inspection, has been amply justified by the way in which the Soviet Union broke the moratorium. The preparations necessary for the conducting of a series of over 50 tests in the space of some two and one-half months must have taken a long time - possibly as long as a year. Almost certainly these preparations were already well in train when, on 20th December, 1960, the Soviet representative at the United Nations General Assembly voted for two resolutions urging the three powers negotiating at Geneva to continue their voluntary moratorium. The Soviet Union has made abundantly clear the worthlessness of declaratory undertakings. Mr. Khrushchev himself admitted this in a most interesting interview with the American journalist, Sulzberger, in September, 1961, when he said -
It would be untimely at present to say that in the event of war atomic weapons would not be employed. Anyone who made such a statement could turn out to be untruthful even though when making such a pledge he was sincere and not meaning to tell a lie.
Let us assume both sides were to promise not to employ nuclear weapons, while retaining stockpiles of them. What would happen if the imperialists unleashed war? If either side, in such a war, should feel it was losing would it not use nuclear weapons to avoid defeat? lt would undoubtedly use its nuclear bombs.
All this goes to show that if atomic weapons are preserved and if war is unleashed it will be a thermo-nuclear war.
Therefore world peace must be assured, not by undertakings to refrain from the use of nuclear weapons, but by a radical solution of the cardinal issues. And the best guarantee of peace is the destruction of armaments and the elimination of armies - in other words, disarmament. That is the most reliable guarantee
Yet it is just such a declaratory undertaking as Khrushchev himself places no faith in, that the Soviet Union has now proposed in respect of the suspension of nuclear weapons tests. It is in the context of these considerations that we must view President Kennedy’s decision on the resumption of atmospheric testing by the United States, a matter to which I must now turn.
I have already spoken publicly of the Government’s view that the Western powers, and in this case the United States in particular, must be free to test, if the security of the free world so demands. Testing in the atmosphere cannot safely be excluded if this necessity requires it. The United States has recently been conducting a detailed analysis of the recent series of tests by the Soviet Union. President
Kennedy has said that they reflected a highly sophisticated technology, with over half the tests emphasizing the development of new weapons and, in particular, improvements in explosive power-to-weight ratio. Of the remainder, some were proof tests of existing weapons while the balance was directed to the development of missile defence. The Soviet Union itself has claimed in recent months that it has developed an effective anti-missile missile. Although the United States does not consider that the Soviet Union has a developed system of missile defence, and does not accept Soviet claims to superiority in nuclear power, nevertheless a further Soviet test series, in the absence of Western testing, might well give it these advantages.
President Kennedy showed great patience and restraint in not ordering the resumption of atmospheric testing until he was fully convinced that it was necessary. He refused to be rushed into ordering the resumption because there may be political or psychological reasons for so doing. But, by the same token, now that a considered assessment of all the relevant factors shows a resumption to be essential, he has made it plain that he cannot allow himself to be dissuaded by political or psychological reasons.
Let me recall the factors which President Kennedy weighed in reaching his decision to resume testing. Testing is necessary to progress in research and the development of new weapons: Without it, progress is limited. It follows that a country which refrains from testing cannot match the gains of a country which does test. Moreover, there is a considerable range of important information which underground testing cannot yield and which can be obtained only from atmospheric testing. The United States has conducted no atmospheric testing for nearly four years. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, has recently conducted the largest series of atmospheric tests since the development of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union prepared for these tests in secret for perhaps a year while ostensibly negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear tests. The Soviet Union in the course of the past year, first of all went back on a number of agreed elements in the draft test ban treaty and then rejected in toto the concept of an effective treaty. There is thus no guarantee that the Soviet Union is not, even now, preparing a further series of tests which, in the absence of any Western testing in the interim, could well give the Soviet Union an advantage which might tempt it into aggression.
In all these circumstances the United States has no alternative but to take steps to maintain the effectiveness of its deterrent. President Kennedy has therefore authorized a resumption of tests in the atmosphere. They will be directed towards -
President Kennedy’s action is in striking contrast to that of the Soviet Union at the end of August last year.
First, President Kennedy has given at least six weeks’ advance warning of the resumption of atmospheric testing. He has delayed the initiation of these tests to see if the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Conference will take constructive steps towards disarmament. He has also specifically offered to call the tests off if, in the interim, the Soviet Union will sign and start to apply an effective treaty for the suspension of nuclear weapons tests. President Kennedy has offered to go to Geneva to sign such a treaty with Mr. Khrushchev. This decision therefore in no way indicates a slackening in United States efforts to achieve a test ban treaty and an agreement on general and complete disarmament. Indeed, even if the Soviet Union fails to sign an effective test ban treaty before the tests begin, the United States will still continue to negotiate for a treaty.
Secondly, the United States will conduct in the atmosphere only those tests which are essential to security and which cannot be conducted underground. Thirdly, every precaution will be taken to restrict radioactive fall-out to an absolute minimum.
Let me put the contrast. The Soviet Union last August gave less than 24 hours’ advance notice of its decision. In resuming testing it broke a moratorium which had been in effect for almost three years and into which it had entered voluntarily. I emphasize this because there can be no suggestion that the Western powers had been gaining military advantage through testing during that period. France did carry out some tests but the Soviet did not even mention them as a pretext for breaking off negotiations and resuming tests until many months after they were over. The Soviet Union thus broke Mr. Khrushchev’s own solemn promise not to be the first of the negotiating powers to resume testing. The Soviet Union summarily rejected all urging to suspend its tests and return to the negotiating table. It conducted some tests of an unprecedented magnitude for which there appears to be no technical or scientific justification.
The British Government has announced that it is making its territory in the central Pacific - Christmas Island - available to the United States for atmospheric test. Christmas Island lies due south of Honolulu and just north of the Equator. It is not to be confused with our own Christmas Island. The Australian Government was consulted regarding this British decision. The Government informed the British Government that if, in its assessment, circumstances required it, the Australian Government would not stand in the way of a British decision to permit United States use of this atoll. The Government was aided in reaching this decision by firm United States assurances that if it was decided to resume testing in the atmosphere, then only those tests would be carried out which were necessary for the significant development of weapons and that every precaution would be taken to minimize fall-out.
By paying careful attention to wind and weather conditions and by holding the tests over the open sea, the United States intends to rule out any problem of fall-out in the immediate area of the tests. Nearly all fall-out from the Christmas Island tests will occur in the Northern Hemisphere and the increase in radio-activity will be held to a very low level. President Kennedy has stated that in the United States the increase will amount to less than 1 per cent, of existing background radiation from natural sources to which Americans are already exposed daily.
At the request of the Australian Government, the National Radiation Advisory Committee recently examined the possible risks to the Australian population from fall-out from the proposed tests at Christmas Island. The committee’s biological assessments of the levels of radio-activity resulting from all previous tests - I repeat, all previous tests - even on the most pessimistic assumptions, has shown the hazards to the population to be negligible. In view of President Kennedy’s assurances the Radiation Advisory Committee believes that the levels of fall-out over Australia from the proposed tests will be much lower than from earlier tests and, consequently, of even less significance.
We appreciate and sympathize with the concern of our neighbours in New Zealand that no ill effects from these tests should be felt in the Pacific islands lying to the south-west of Christmas Island - including the Cook Islands - and for this reason also we welcome the assurances of President Kennedy that every precaution against harmful fall-out will be taken.
Anxious though the Australian Government is to see all nuclear testing brought to an end, and deeply as it regrets the need for the United States to resume atmospheric testing, it believes firmly that, in all the circumstances, President Kennedy’s decision was the right, indeed the only possible, one. We can yet take heart that this does not mark any turning away from the goal of disarmament and that Western efforts to attain this goal have not been relaxed.
Whilst we must not expect any dramatic breakthrough in the attainment of our ultimate objective - complete and general disarmament - in a matter of days or months we do know that there have been encouraging technical exchanges between the East and the West at the unofficial level and we can see promise in continuing our efforts to reach an agreement in limited fields as, for example, between our scientists on technical problems. We can also draw encouragement from the recent Soviet acceptance of President Kennedy’s proposals for co-operation in outer space. This is a sphere in which both sides have already renounced military ambitions. Practical cooperation in problems of mutual interest could strengthen understanding and confidence and so contribute towards progress in disarmament negotiations.
Mr. President, in this statement I have not taken up the time of the Senate to recount the various proposals on disarmament which have been put forward for discussion by the great powers or in the United Nations or its committees. Honorable senators will find the main features of these and of the development of international discussion in recent years outlined in the documents which the Senate has been good enough to allow me to have incorporated in “ Hansard “ as part of this statement. I have rather thought it useful to identify here some of the great problems upon the solution of which progress towards the goal of a peaceful and co-operative international society depends. I have been at pains to explain some of the difficulties which lie in the path to disarmament, not with the purpose of excusing our failure so far to achieve it, not with the will to discourage continued pursuit of the goal, but rather with the object of indentifying the obstacles which we and our friends in that pursuit must resolutely endeavour to surmount. Realism is the mood for action; it is not a counsel of despair. Only by taking the measure of the problems and the complexities can we really hope for success in finding the way towards a world in which mutual respect, human dignity and freedom will prevail and the paralysis of fear be lifted from all mankind.
Annex to Parliamentary Statement by Minister for External Affairs.
The most important recent developments in international negotiations for Disarmament have been: -
In the field of nuclear weapon tests the important developments have been: -
At the resumed session of the fifteenth United Nations General Assembly in April, 1961, the United States and the Soviet Union jointly submitted a draft resolution (adopted unanimously on 21st April), noting that bilateral discussions concerning general disarmament were to take place between them.
These discussions began in Washington on 19th June, 1961, were transferred to Moscow, and continued in New York from 6th to 20th September.
During discussions the United States presented four proposals for a forum in which future disarmament negotiations might take place. These proposals were: -
The Soviet Union accepted none of these proposals during the bilateral negotiations. It took the position that a forum for disarmament negotiations “ would be effective only if all three groups of States - the socialist countries, the States members of the Western Military blocs, and the neutralist countries - were represented in it with equal rights”. The countries which the Soviet Union proposed should be added to the Ten-Nation Committee were India, Indonesia, Ghana, Mexico and the United Arab Republic.
It was not until after the adoption by the General Assembly, on 28th November, 1961, of a resolution calling on the United States and the S’oviet Union to agree on a forum for disarmament discussions that the United States and the Soviet Union finally agreed on the establishment of an Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee.
On 20th September, 1961, the United States and Soviet representatives submitted to the President of the United Nations General Assembly a “Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations “ which had been agreed upon during these discussions. This Joint Statement laid stress on the need to implement disarmament in stages; on the need for balanced disarmament; and on the necessity to combine measures of control and certification with the process of disarmament.
Also on 20th September, in a separate communication to the President of the General Assembly, the United States Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, forwarded a copy of a letter from the chief United States negotiator in the bilateral negotiations, Mr. McCloy, to the chief Soviet negotiator, Mr. Zorin. In this letter Mr. McCloy pointed out that at Soviet insistence a clause had been omitted from the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles. This clause, relating to the need for verification of disarmament measures, was an essential element in the United States position. It would have read: “ Such verification should ensure that only agreed limitations or reductions take place but also that retained armed forces and armaments do not exceed agreed levels at any stage.”
The United States had agreed to its omission from the Joint Statement, but only the understanding that the United States position should in no way be prejudiced in later discussions.
Discussion in General Assembly.
In the United Nations General Assembly’s sixteenth session, which began in September, 1961, the question of general disarmament was overshadowed by the discussion of nuclear testing. Nevertheless, several important developments in the field of general disarmament occurred.
In his address to the General Assembly on 25th September, President Kennedy presented a new United States Declaration on Disarmament.
This Declaration, which draws up the Plan presented by the United States to the Ten-Nation Conference on Disarmament in June, 1960, envisages three stages of disarmament. In the first stage an International Disarmament Organization would be established, with a General Conference and Commission to “ assure effective impartial implementation “. Force levels for the United States and the Soviet Union would be limited to 2.1 million men, with appropriate levels, not exceeding 2.1 million each, for all other militarily significant states. Also in the first stage is a provision that would prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons or information about nuclear weapons from one state to another. Throughout the Declaration stress is placed on containing the threat of nuclear war. With the complete implementation of the Declaration, countries would have at their disposal arms sufficient only for the maintenance of internal security. During and after the process of disarmament, a United Nations peace force would be established which would ensure that all international disputes would be settled according to the agreed principles of international conduct.
During the Assembly’s opening general debate, the Soviet Foreign Minister criticized the United States position, as stated during the bilateral negotiations, that control and verification ought to apply to the level of armaments retained after the carrying out of agreed reductions, as well as to the reductions themselves. He reiterated his’ Government’s support for the disarmament plan submitted to the General Assembly on 23rd September, 1960, by Mr. Khrushchev.
The Soviet Union also circulated to United Nations members a document proposing various measures to “ease international tension, strengthen confidence among states and contribute to general and complete disarmament “. None of the proposals put forward by the Soviet Union was new. They included proposals to freeze military budgets; to denounce the use of nuclear weapons; to prohibit the use of war propaganda; and to conclude a non-aggression pact between the N.A.T.O. countries and the Warsaw Pact countries. All of these had previously been rejected by the Western powers as unsatisfactory or impracticable in the present world situation.
The leader of the Australian Delegation, Mr. J. Plimsoll, speaking in the General Assembly on 13th October, 1961, re-affirmed Australia’s support for the principles of inspection and control in any agreement on disarmament. He also endorsed the United States position as set out in the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles, and subject to the qualification expressed in Mr. McCloy’s letter abovementioned.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted two Resolutions on general disarmament. The first, sponsored by India, called on the United States and the Soviet Union to agree on a forum for negotiation of disarmament. This was adopted unanimously on 28th November, 1961. Also during this Assembly session, Soviet and United
States representatives held private talks, which resulted in the formulation of a Soviet-American draft resolution endorsing the Agreement which they had by this time reached on the composition of an 18-Nation Disarmament Committee. This agreement was for the expansion of the 10-Nation Disarmament Committee by the addition of Brazil, Burma, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden and the United Arab Republic. The draft resolution also called for this new committee to report progress to the United Nations Disarmament Commission by 1st June, 1962, and was adopted unanimously on 20th December. This 18-Nation Committee began its discussions in Geneva on 14th March, 1962.
Other Discussions in the General Assembly.
In addition to the resolutions abovementioned, four other draft resolutions were put forward at this Assembly session. The first, sponsored by a number of African nations, proposed that all nations should observe the continent of Africa as a nuclear free zone. This draft was adopted on 24th November by the General Assembly by 55 votes, with none opposing and with 44 abstentions (including Australia). The Australian representative explained that Australia could not support the draft resolution because it was imprecise and was not the product of sufficient consultation.
Also on 24th November, the General Assembly adopted a draft resolution sponsored by African and Asian nations which declared the use of nuclear weapons to be a crime against humanity and a direct violation of the United Nations Charter. Speaking on this draft resolution, the Australian representative pointed out that it did not take account of the realities of international life. The passing of such a resolution would not prevent those nations which at present had nuclear weapons from continuing to rely on them for their defence, and it did not condemn other equally horrifying and devastating weapons; what Australia sought, he said, was the elimination not of a particular weapon but of war itself. This draft resolution, however, was adopted by 55 votes to 20 (including Australia), with 26 abstentions.
A draft resolution put forward by Sweden and five other nations requested the United Nations Secretariat to survey the conditions under which states would be prepared to enter into an agreement not to manufacture, acquire or receive, on behalf of other countries, nuclear weapons. This draft was adopted by the General Assembly on 4th December by 58 votes to 10 with 23 abstentions (including Australia). On the same day the General Assembly unanimously adopted a draft resolution submitted by Ireland, aimed at restricting the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons.
On 30th August, 1961, the Soviet Government announced its intention to resume nuclear weapons testing. At that time the Geneva Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapon Tests was still in session. At this conference there were three major points of disagreement between the Soviet Union and the Western negotiating powers. The latter had on 28th and 30th August sought to resolve these disagreements by making three further concessions to the Soviet position.
These points of disagreement, and the Western concessions, were:
The United States and Britain also tried to meet all the Soviet Union’s demands regarding small underground tests. The view of Western experts was that these could not as yet be reliably detected; accordingly, the Western negotiators had suggested a moratorium to allow research into improved detection methods, to follow the conclusion of a treaty banning testing in all other environments. This new Western proposal envisaged Soviet-Western consultation before the ending of such a moratorium, and that during its last six months a panel of experts would report on recommended improvements in the control system, on the capability of the system in the light of those improvements, and on whether it would be possible to reduce or eliminate altogether the possibility of unidentifiable underground explosions.
Despite these proposals, the Soviet Union resumed nuclear testing, and exploded a device on 1st September. In a statement explaining its resumption, the Soviet Government claimed, inter alia, that the decision had been forced upon it by the “increasingly bellicose” attitude of the Western powers over the Berlin question; that the Soviet Union had knowledge that the United States was preparing to carry out underground tests; and that the nuclear tests carried out by France had “ swept the negotiations from the table at Geneva “.
Almost immediately after this Soviet announcement Britain and the United States issued strong statements condemning the Soviet decision. These were followed on 3rd September by a joint appeal by President Kennedy and Mr. Macmilian to Mr. Khrushchev, in which they called upon him to agree, by 9th September, to cease all nuclear explosions in the atmosphere (using national systems of detection). They proposed that representatives of the three countries should meet in Geneva on 9th September and record that agreement. Whilst the appeal did not envisage any extension of controls to cover the detection of atmospheric tests, the Western leaders reaffirmed their desire “ to conclude a nuclear tests ban treaty, applicable to other forms of testing as well “. The virtue of such a partial agreement would have been that the problem of radioactive fallout would not have arisen. The joint appeal, however, was immediately followed by a second and third Soviet test explosion. Following the latter explosion on 5th September, President Kennedy announced that the United States would resume nuclear testing, both underground and “ in the laboratory “. In making this announcement the President confirmed that the United States-British offer to suspend atmospheric tests still remained open until 9th September.
The Soviet Union, however, explicitly rejected the United States-British appeal on 9th September. In explanation, Mr. Khrushchev stated that the Soviet Union did not wish to conclude partial agreements on disarmament nor on the suspension of nuclear weapons testing, but wished to consider these problems in the context of general and complete disarmament. Following this reply the Geneva Conference adjourned indefinitely and discussion shifted to the United Nations General Assembly.
Two items on nuclear tests, inscribed on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly, were considered in the Assembly’s First Committee during October, 1961. These were -
Britain and the United States introduced a draft resolution which called for the early resumption of negotiations to achieve a tests ban treaty providing for effective international control and inspection. India, together with five other nations, introduced a draft resolution which sought the implementation of an immediate and uncontrolled moratorium.
Discussion of the two draft resolutions was temporarily suspended in order to debate a draft resolution, sponsored by Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Norway and Pakistan, protesting against the announced intention of the Soviet Union to explode a 50 megaton nuclear device. This draft resolution was adopted in the First Committee, and in the Plenary Session of the General Assembly on 27th October, by 87 votes to 11 (the Soviet countries and Cuba voting against), with one abstention (Mali). The Soviet Union ignored the General Assembly’s appeal and three days later detonated a device of about 50 megatons.
In discussions of the nuclear tests question, the Western powers restated their belief in the urgent need for the resumption of negotiations to achieve a tests ban treaty, but stressed that such a treaty must allow for strict international control and inspection. Because of their belief in the need for control, strengthened by the Soviet Union’s action in breaking the moratorium on testing nuclear weapons, the Western powers opposed the Indian draft resolution which called for the immediate implementation of a moratorium. The “ uncommitted “ nations, in general, supported the Indian draft resolution. The Soviet Union argued that its test series had been provoked by “ western militarism “ and by the “ undoubted “ intention of the United States to resume testing. It stated that negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty should form part of the negotiations for general and complete disarmament. It opposed both the Indian and the joint United States- British draft resolutions.
Speaking on the draft resolutions, the Leader of the Australian delegation, Mr. Plimsoll, emphasised that the Australian Government hoped that there would be a permanent cessation of nuclear tests; the Soviet Union however, had prevented this by its unilateral decision to resume testing; in the light of the Soviet Union’s actions the Australian delegation was unable to support moves for an uncontrolled moratorium on testing, and gave its full support to Britain and the United States in their efforts to achieve a speedy resumption of negotiations aimed at the conclusion of an effective and controlled agreement banning nuclear tests.
The Indian draft resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 6th November by 72 to 20 (including Australia, Britain, the United States and the Communist countries), with eight abstentions. On 8th November the General Assembly adopted the United States-British draft resolution by 71 votes (Australia) to eleven (the Communist countries and Cuba), with 15 abstentions.
Following the Assembly’s adoption of the latter resolution, Britain and the United States in a joint note called on the Soviet Union to resume negotiations for a tests ban treaty at Geneva on 28th November. The Soviet Union agreed, but in its reply of 21st November said: “ It is evident that, if during the negotiations any power begins to hold nuclear weapon tests, then, through force of circumstances to which the Soviet Union has pointed more than once, the other side would be compelled to draw the relevant conclusions also with regard to nuclear tests “.
Britain and the United States issued statements emphasising that in resuming negotiations they did not regard themselves as bound by any moratorium on testing. Both Governments indicated that their decision whether or not to resume atmospheric testing would depend on an analysis of the recent Soviet test series. They also stated that, if the United States or Britain carried out tests, these would be mounted in such a way as to reduce fall-out to a minimum.
On 27th November, on the eve of resumption of negotiations in Geneva, the Soviet Union published in Moscow the terms of a new draft agreement for a nuclear test ban. The Soviet Foreign Ministry distributed copies of the draft agreement to the ambassadors of various “ uncommitted “ countries but not to the British and United States Ambassadors.
The terms of this Soviet draft agreement were: -
These Soviet proposals were criticised by Western representatives both at Geneva and elsewhere. Western spokesmen pointed out that the new Soviet draft agreement renounced completely the previous Soviet acceptance of the necessity for international control and inspection. The new Soviet proposal also meant that the Soviet Union was abandoning the preamble, seventeen draft articles and two annexes of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons tests, to which it had earlier agreed.
In an attempt to determine the extent of this Soviet retreat, the Western delegates on the second day of the resumed negotiations put a number of questions to the Soviet delegate. His answers, some days later, made it clear that the Soviet Union was no longer prepared to accept impartial international control. Further discussion at the conference, between 28th November and 22nd December, brought no positive results, and it was adjourned until 1962.
When the conference resumed on 16th January the British and United States negotiators, in an attempt to make some progress on the tests ban question, proposed two alternatives to the Soviet delegates: either the Conference should resume negotiations with a view to the establishment of a control system on lines agreed earlier at Geneva, or, if that were rejected, the nuclear tests ban question should be explored in the context of discussion on general and complete disarmament by the new 18-Nation Committee. The Western delegates made it clear that the proposal for a merger of discussions did not mean that agreement on a nuclear tests ban was a pre-condition to the talks on general disarmament. Nor did the Western delegates accept the Soviet argument that a tests ban treaty was not necessary. They also proposed that the powers negotiating at Geneva for a tests ban treaty should form a sub-committee of three in the 18-Nation Committee to examine the relationship of a tests ban to general disarmament.
The Soviet Union rejected the first alternative put forward by the Western representatives but undertook to study the second.
Breakdown of the Geneva Conference.
On 26th January the Soviet delegate at Geneva rejected the Western proposal for a merger of discussions. He said that this would result in the 18-Nation Committee being deflected from work on general and complete disarmament. He restated the Soviet view that the abolition of nuclear armaments under general and complete disarmament would render testing and a nuclear tests ban treaty unnecessary. In the meantime, he said, the Soviet four-point draft agreement would provide adequate safeguards, and he suggested that it should continue to be examined at Geneva.
On 29th January the Western delegates proposed that the conference should go into indefinite recess, since it was apparent that common ground for negotiation no longer existed. The Western delegations expressed the hope that a common basis might be re-established, either through discussion at the 18-Nation Committee, or through informal contacts at Geneva, or through other diplomatic channels. The Soviet delegate accused the Western powers of wrecking negotiations, of not wishing to achieve a tests ban treaty, and of wanting an armaments race.
Events Leadingup to the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee.
With a view to giving the 18-Nation Committee an initial direction and impetus, Mr. Macmillan and President Kennedy on 8th February invited the Soviet Union to join in a tripartite meeting of their Foreign Ministers in Geneva before the 18-Nation Committee began its deliberations to consider the broad lines of discussion which the 18-Nation meeting might follow. Mr. Khrushchev’s response was to suggest instead to all eighteen nations on the Committee that they should be represented at the opening of the Conference by their Heads of Government. The Western leaders indicated that they were willing to participate personally at any stage when such participation could be beneficial but that until the issues had been clarified and some progress achieved, they considered a meeting of Heads of Government might actually be harmful.
After a further exchange Mr. Khrushchev agreed to the Western invitation. His own proposal had not in fact met with great success; outside the Soviet bloc there were only two heads of government who accepted his invitation without reserve. Mr. Khrushchev agreed that the Soviet Foreign Minister should meet with Mr. Rusk and Lord Home in Geneva before the start of the Conference. Nothing of substance emerged from the talks held between the three Foreign Ministers.
The French Government has not sent a representative to the 18-Nation Disarmament Meeting in Geneva. The French view is that the meeting will not achieve any real progress. President de Gaulle in response to Mr. Khrushchev’s heads of government proposal had instead proposed that there should be a meeting of the heads of government of the nuclear powers and of those countries which will shortly have nuclear weapons at their disposal. Such a meeting, President de Gaulle suggested, should discuss disarmamentessentially nuclear disarmament - with particular reference to the elimination of the delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.
At the conference itself the general debate continued throughout the first week. No progress has so far been recorded.
In his opening statement on15th March, Mr. Rusk suggested that the conference should tackle its task by trying to draw up an outline programme of general and comprehensive disarmament, by confirming and building on existing areas of agreement and by trying to reduce and reconcile differences in the Soviet and American viewpoints. In addition he discussed at some length four specific measures which were among those to be applied in the first stage of the United States programme for general and complete disarmament but which could be put into effect without delay and without waiting for agreement on disarmament as a whole. These measures were: -
The Canadian Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Green, endeavoured to separate the areas in which there was a large measure of agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union from those in which there was only a partial or scant measure of agreement. He then suggested that those fields in which there was common ground should be put to study by subcommittees with a view to starting the drafting of treaties or treaty articles on them. Mr. Green listed seven areas of possible agreement on which further action might be taken now: -
The fifth of these fields - the prohibition of the wider spread of nuclear weapons - has already been debated in the General Assembly and formed the subject of a resolution adopted at the Sixteenth Session with Australian support. Two other points on the list, procedures for the reduction of the risk of surprise attack and the cessation of production of fissile material and the transfer of stocks to peaceful uses, concide with the proposals of Mr. Rusk.
There have been no reports of Soviet reactions to these proposals. The Soviet Union has, for its part, presented a draft treaty for general and complete disarmament containing 48 articles. This draft treaty is basically similar to Mr. Khrushchev’s Disarmament Plan which he presented to the United Nations in September, 1960.
Discussions on Nuclear Tests.
No progress has been achieved on the question of nuclear tests at the Geneva Meeting. The major nuclear powers have formed a subcommittee to discuss the possibility of implementing a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Meetings in this sub-committee, which ended on 30th March, brought no progress and the Soviet Union remained uncompromising in its rejection of international verification and control. The Soviet Union insisted that its draft agreement of November, 1961, forms the only basis for a lest treaty.
Reference of the Nuclear Tests question to a Committee of the Seventeen Negotiating Nations.
The nuclear test ban question has now been referred to a committee of the seventeen nations negotiating at Geneva. The uncommitted nations represented at Geneva have made strong appeals in the Committee to both the United States and the Soviet Union not to renew nuclear testing and to be more flexible in their attitudes to inspection and control. There has been no sign of Soviet readiness to abandon its position. The United States, according to press reports, has indicated that provided there are the minimum effective international controls to police a test ban it is prepared to negotiate a completely new treaty and not to insist on continuing negotiations on the basis of its earlier draft proposals if this will bring progress.
An agreement for this purpose should be negotiated as soon as possible, on the basis of the following principles -
On the basis of the above principles, it should be possible, given goodwill on both sides, to reconcile the present differences of approach between the different plans put forward.
PO.134 2nd January, 1962
I have the honour to transmit herewith the text of resolution 1664 (XVI) adopted by the General Assembly at the 1070th meeting on 4 December 1961.
I also have the honour to draw your attention to the fourth preambular paragraph and the first operative paragraph, which request the Secretary-General to make an inquiry: “ . . . as to the conditions under which countries not possessing nuclear weapons might be willing to enter into specific undertakings to refrain from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring such weapons and to refuse to receive in the future nuclear weapons on their territories on behalf of any other country.” and to submit a report on its results to the Disarmament Commission not later than 1 April 1962.
I would accordingly appreciate receiving the views of your Government as to the conditions under which it might be willing to enter into the specific undertakings referred to. It would facilitate the preparation of my report to the Disarmament Commission if I could receive this statement of the views of your Government by 15 March 1962.
Accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration. (Sgd.) U Thant
The Minister of State for External Affairs Department of External Affairs Canberra Australia [Letter sent by the Minister for External Affairs to the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations concerning Resolution 1664 (XVI).]
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 2nd January, 1962, concerning Resolution 1664 (XVI) adopted by the General Assembly at its 1070th Meeting on 4th December, 1961. In this letter, you seek the views of the Australian Government as to “ the conditions under which countries not possessing nuclear weapons might be willing to enter into specific undertakings to refrain from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring such weapons and to refuse to receive in the future nuclear weapons on their territories on behalf of other countries “.
The Australian Government is most conscious of the dangers inherent in an expansion beyond the present number of nuclear powers. For its own part, Australia neither manufactures nuclear weapons nor at present has such weapons in its territory.
Australia has long recognized the dangers which could arise from the emergence of additional nuclear powers. On 19th September, 1957, the Australian Prime Minister, the Right Honourable R. G. Menzies, in addressing the House of Representatives said inter alia: “… There is advantage for the world in having nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons in the hands of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, and in no others.
The Great Powers, apart from their enormous resources, are sufficiently informed about the deadly character of these weapons to find themselves reluctant to cause a war in which they are used. The possession of these violent forces is, in the case of these great nations, a deterrent not only to prospective enemies but to themselves.
But should the manufacture of nuclear weapons be extended to a number of other powers, great or small, the chances of irresponsible action with calamitous repercussions in the world would be materially increased.”
The views expressed in the Australian Prime Minister’s statement of 1957 which I have just quoted predate the initiative in the United Nations of the Government of the Republic of Ireland to prevent the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons. Australia’s policy and the reasons for it remain as stated by the Prime Minister in 1957. This position has been reaffirmed in the speeches and votes of the Australian Delegations to successive Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and most recently at the Sixteenth Session of the General Assembly.
But Australia recognizes the right of the nuclear powers to conclude agreements for the stationing of their nuclear weapons wherever military necessity requires. Furthermore, as was also stated publicly by the Prime Minister in September, 1957, Australia cannot undertake that under no circumstances will Australian forces in the future be armed with nuclear weapons.
In formulating this national defence policy, the Australian Government, by reason of Australia’s geographical position and political beliefs, must take account of the emergence in the area of East Asia and the Western Pacific of a military power of great dimension and some ambition. This power is convinced of the inevitability of war and consciously working for the elimination of the type of society of which Australia is a part. It already has massive conventional forces, which it has used against the forces of the United Nations, and has nuclear weapons potentialities which may be close to fulfilment. It has indicated that the production of nuclear weapons is indeed its aim. Furthermore, with the prodigious developments of military science and technology during recent years, no power which is concerned with its security can ignore developments in any part of the world, however distant. In determining its defence policy Australia must at all times take into account all relevant factors.
The Australian Government therefore seriously doubts the effectiveness of regional agreements for the limitation of nuclear weapons in any area of the world. It may be that there are groups of countries whose past and present associations, geographical position and general security situation enable them to envisage associating in regional “ non-nuclear clubs “. For its part, Australia does not see that this can be the case in the region of which it forms a part.
In addition to these considerations, it is Australia’s conviction that specific undertakings of the kind envisaged in Resolution 1664 could neither be formulated nor ratified, by countries not possessing nuclear weapons, in isolation from the wider issues of controlled disarmament since, in the strategic calculation of military deterrence, nuclear weapons and conventional forces are inextricably bound together. In any case, such specific undertakings could not at present be contemplated by Australia without the participation of the nuclear powers themselves, without the certainty that all militarily significant states would be covered, and without some assurance that adequate verification procedures could be initiated. For all these reasons, Australia, although a country neither possessing nor at present seeking nuclear weapons and convinced as it is of the dangers inherent in the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons, sees many difficulties in attempting to take further at present as far as Australia is concerned the approach suggested in Resolution 1664 (XVI).
In stating these views, I should stress the Australian Government’s most earnest support for all genuine efforts to achieve both general and complete disarmament and more immediately a ban on nuclear test explosions, under effective international inspection and control. Fortunately, the problem with which the Resolution deals is raised in both the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics disarmament plans shortly to be discussed by the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee, the members of which include both nuclear and non-nuclear powers.
Australia will follow the negotiations of this Committee closely. Meanwhile, however, the Australian Government does not see its way to giving any undertaking in the terms contemplated in Resolution 1664 (XVI). It is prevented from doing so by its belief that nations must be free to look to their own security in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter; and by its belief that declaratory undertakings of the sort envisaged are of little practical value without an agreement for general and complete disarmament under adequate controls and covering all militarily significant states.
Please accept Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
His Excellency U Thant,
Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations,
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Disarmament and Nuclear Tests - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 5th April, 1962- and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.-I crave the indulgence of honorable senators to bring to the notice of the Senate, for the sake of the record, references to the Commonwealth Government’s interest since 1956 in the European Common Market. In his Speech opening the Parliament on 19th March, 1957, the Governor-General said -
Over the past year new trade and payments arrangements have been under discussion in
Europe. The six countries of the European coal and steel community have carried forward their plans for the formation of a customs and economic union.
The United Kingdom has entered upon negotiations for a free trade area which would bring her, and perhaps other countries of Europe, into association with the common market of the six. Such far-reaching changes could have important implications for the Australian economy and these developments are being kept under close review.
In opening the Parliament on 25th February, 1958, the Governor-General said -
The inauguration of the European Economic Community on 1st January, 1958, is of historic importance. The implications for Australian export trade are being closely watched.
The development of our primary industries is, of course, vital to Australia. My Government will continue to support this development, notably through a number of research schemes to which the producers themselves are contributing.
The Governor-General’s Speech delivered on 17th February, 1959, included this passage -
The Australian Government has been studying closely the continuing trend towards economic integration in Europe in which a notable development on 1st January this year was the revision of tariffs and quotas between the six nations of the European Economic Community. Negotiations are continuing towards the creation of a European Free Trade Area under which other Western European countries, including the United Kingdom, would be associated with the European Economic Community. My Government will continue to keep in touch with these developments and to act as required to safeguard Australia’s interests.
The Governor-General’s Speech delivered on 8th March,1960, included this passage -
The emergence of two rival trading areasin Europe and the developments flowing from the recent Paris Economic Conference, are being closely watched by my Government, which is alert to Australia’s trading interests in these matters.
The Governor-General’s Speech delivered on 7th March, 1961, included this passage -
The Government continues to follow closely the movement towards closer economic integration in Western Europe, including in particular the implications of such a move for Commonwealth trading relations. The attitude of my advisers has been, and will continue to be, based upon Australia’s trade and other interests.
In order to bring the record up to date, I will read the following passage from the Governor-General’s Speech that was delivered on 20th February, 1962-
Great Britain’s application to join the European Common Market, and the negotiations which are now being carried on, have given rise to major problems affecting Australian exports, particularly those to Great Britain. My Government has approached these problems constructively and with determination, on the one hand consul’ ing with Australian exporters to devise possible arrangements to protect our interests; and on the other taking every opportunity to press home to the Governments of Britain, the countries of the European Economic Community, and of the United States, the importance of trade as a factor in maintaining the countries of the Commonwealth as a source of strength in the free world.
In view of recent criticism, Mr. President, 1 thought that it would be of advantage to collate the references that have been made in successive years to the developments towards this integration of economic and political interests in Europe. I trust that those people who criticize the alleged omission of the Government to keep abreast of such developments were aware of all of those references to them. I sought in vain evidence that any of those people had taken the opportunity to examine critically the significance of those references on any occasion during debates on the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech.
– in reply - I express my appreciation of the research work that Senator Wright has done in order to put in the records of the Senate the annual references to this matter in Governor-General’s Speeches. May I reply, to some extent, to the criticism that is made by the Opposition from time to time to the effect that the Government is not giving this great matter the attention that is necessary. I believe that Senator Wright, and indeed every honorable senator, would be ready to agree that the brief references to this matter in Governor-General’s Speeches are really only an indication or a token of the work that has been done. I pay tribute to the Australian officers who are engaged on this work. I have been a member of the Cabinet committee that has dealt with this matter from the beginning. I believe that we are very fortunate to have the officers that we have engaged on this work, which is of a high standard.
We, as the Australian Government, have a solution; we have a line of approach; we have determined the way in which we shall act in almost every contingency that one can imagine in a series of negotiations. It must be remembered that in truth the negotiations have not yet begun. What has happened up to this stage is that the United Kingdom has made application’ to join the European Common Market. Negotiations on the terms and conditions of that entry have hardly begun. We know the form of the proceedings. We have to talk to the United Kingdom Government, not in generalities but in hard terms of wheat, butter, sugar, lead, zinc and other particular commodities about what its approach will be. Through our officers, now through Mr. McEwen’s visit overseas, through the visit to Australia of the United Kingdom Minister for Commonwealth Relations and through personal correspondence and cables on the Prime MinistertoPrime Minister level, we have done a great deal of preparatory work not only with the United Kingdom but also directly with the members of The Six. We have put our point of view in court and out of court in all the various ways in which a point of view can be put to influence the people concerned.
I am sorry that we have not had a fulldress debate in the Senate on this great matter. I am sure that we will have one on Mr. McEwen’s return to Australia. It seems to me to be inevitable that Mr. McEwen will make a comprehensive statement on the outcome of his trip as a result of his representations and negotiations. I hope that a White Paper will be prepared so that we may try to trace the developments in this matter as logically as possible. Putting them in logica] sequence is a tremendously difficult task. We must remember that this matter impinges not only on what might be the terms of the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market but also on the United KingdomAustralia Trade Agreement, the Japanese Trade Agreement and the arrangements under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This is like the effect of throwing a stone into a pond. The ripples, as it were, go in so many directions that each time we look at a particular problem in relation to this matter we have to look over our shoulders, too, in order to see the effect not only upon the written word in any trade agreement that we have with a particular country but also upon the practical trading results and the trading transactions with other countries with which we may not have trade agreements.
That is one of the reasons why, although I pay the greatest tribute to the officers who are handling this matter, at almost every stage in the proceedings we are in the closest consultation with the industries concerned and the people in those industries, hearing their advice and conferring with them on what, so far as they can see, may be the repercussions of various actions that are taken. I believe that it is a very useful exercise indeed for Senator Wright to put in the records of the Senate the references to this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 April 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620405_senate_24_s21/>.