25th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 3 p.m.
– I have to announce that the President (Senator the Honorable Sir Alister McMullin) will be unavoidably absent from the sittings of the Senate this day. In accordance with Standing Order No. 29, the Chairman of Committees will take the Chair as Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) thereupon took the chair, and read prayers.
– by leave - It is with regret that I have to inform the Senate of the death on Sunday last of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, Aunt of Her Majesty the Queen, and the only daughter of the late King George V and Queen Mary. She was known best for her great interest in, and personal work for, members of the forces during and between the two World Wars, and up to the time of her death. The Princess Royal had a special connexion with Australasia, because, in World War II, she became Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals and the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals. Her active interest in the Army reached its peak when she was given the honorary rank of General, the only woman holder of this rank in the Army. Her interests, however, were not confined to Army affairs for she was, during her life, Chancellor of the Leeds University and Commandant of the British Red Cross Society.
We, in Australia, did not have the pleasure of welcoming the Princess Royal to our shores but, over the years, she had travelled widely, representing her niece, the Queen. Holder of a distinguished royal title which has been borne by the eldest daughter of the sovereigns of England for 200 years, the Princess Royal maintained the high sense of dignity and responsibility which the people have learned to expect from members of the Royal Family. We, the people of Australia, understanding the strong bond which exists among the members of our Royal Family, send to the Queen our deep sympathy in her sudden bereavement.
Mr. Deputy President, I move ;
That the following Address be transmitted through His Excellency, the Governor-General, to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: -
We, the members of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, have learned with heartfelt sorrow of the death of Your Aunt, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal.
On behalf of your people throughout the Commonwealth of Australia, we express deep sympathy to Your Majesty and members of the Royal Family in the loss which you have sustained.
– Mr. Deputy President, I second the motion on behalf of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate. The motion arises from the tragically sudden death on Sunday last of the Princess Royal, Her Royal Highness Princess Mary, the daughter of the late King George V, sister of the late King George VI, and aunt of the present Queen, Queen Elizabeth the Second. The late Princess had the great consolation of having with her at the end one of her sons and his three children. Although she never visited us in Australia, the Princess Royal was well known and respected here for her dignity, her gentleness, her kindness and her keen interest and activity in social welfare.
On behalf of the Opposition I extend to her two sons and their families, to the Queen, to the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Windsor - the two brothers of the Princess - and to all other members of the Royal Family deepest sympathy in the loss they have sustained by the passing of the Princess Royal. We extend special sympathy to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester who, at the moment, are removed from the domestic scene and are committed to a tour of duty in Australia.
– Mr. Deputy President, I associate the Australian Country Party, first, with the messages of sympathy that have been expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), and secondly, with the message that is to be conveyed to Her Majesty the Queen.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– Mr. Deputy President, I suggest that, as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Princess Royal, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 3.6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That during the absence of the President for the remaining sittings of this week, the Chairman of Committees shall on each sitting day take the chair of the Senate as Deputy President and may, during such absence, perform the duties and exercise the authority of the President in relation to all proceedings of the Senate and to proceedings of Standing and Joint Statutory Committees to which the President is appointed.
– In view of the uncertainty created by the Government’s stop-go policy in regard to the construction of the airport at Tullamarine near Melbourne, will the Minister for Civil Aviation be good enough to inform the Senate whether a date has been fixed for the completion of the construction of that airport?
– If the honorable senator will be a wee bit more patient, he will hear the statement I will be making to the Senate in relation to this matter on Thursday of this week.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. As a prisoner of the Japanese in the last war, I had it forcibly brought to my notice that Japan was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention in respect of the treatment of prisoners of war. Can the Minister tell the Senate whether an international agreement exists in respect of the treatment of prisoners of war? If so, is Indonesia a signatory to that agreement? Does the Minister know what type of treatment the Indonesians are giving to captured personnel?
– There are four conventions known as Geneva Conventions concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. Indonesia was not an original signatory to those conventions, but acceded to the Geneva Convention as to the treatment of prisoners of war on 30th September 1958 and is therefore a party to that agreement. As to the second part of the honorable senator’s question, about 500 Indonesians have been captured by Malaysian forces, but so far as I know, up to the present time, no member of the Malaysian forces has been captured by the Indonesians. This makes it difficult to answer the second part of the honorable senator’s question.
– Has the Minister for Works received a request from the Albany Town Council for financial assistance towards the cost of providing flood lighting for the Desert Mounted Corps memorial on Mount Clarence at Albany, Western Australia? Is the estimated cost of providing a high tension main, transformer and four flood lights £700, and is the annual cost of electric current estimated at £25? Does the Government intend to give this request for a grant or subsidy favorable consideration in the near future?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is “ Yes “. Some time ago, I received such a request from Albany. I cannot quite recall the exact expenditure relating to the second part of the honorable senator’s question and why the request was sent to me I do not know. I have written to the Albany authorities and have pointed out to them that the Department of Works carries out works on behalf of other Government Departments and does not have at its disposal its own funds to carry out policy decisions which it makes. I therefore suggested to the Albany authorities that any request they have to make in connection with the maintenance of a war memorial at Albany should be made to whoever is responsible, if anybody is responsible. I doubt that anybody in the Federal Government is responsible for this matter, which may well, be something which the Western Australian Government should take into consideration, not the Federal Government.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Will the Minister make representations to the Russian Government on the actions of a Russian whaling fleet operating within range of the shore based whaling station of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Co. Ltd. at Albany? Will he have investigations made to find out what remedies are available under the International Whaling Agreement if the Russians are, as is alleged, killing undersized whales?
– I am not sure whether this question should come under the notice of the Minister for External Affairs or the Minister for Primary Industry. It may well be that, if there is an allegation that something of this sort has been taking place within Australian territorial waters, the matter would come under the control of the Minister for Primary Industry. I will bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of both Ministers and see whether they can supply him with an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Can he advise what the present position is between the Government and the R. W. Miller organisation, with ils coastal oil tanker fleet? Can he advise whether it is true that the only shipping company paying full award rates and giving full award conditions to its employees is R. W. Miller and Co. Pty. Ltd? What interest prompts the Government to support foreign owned shipping companies, employing cheap labour, against this Australian company? Finally, is it not true that men who have done far less to promote industry in this country have been knighted, whilst everything possible has been done to crucify this man R. W. Miller?
– I think I should start by pointing out to the honorable senator that when Mr. Miller applied for permission to bring tankers on to the Australian coast, he did so with the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government. Mr. Miller’s present difficulties, I understand, are brought about by the fact that he no longer has - as he originally had - the only Australian registered tankers on the coast. In other words, Mr. Miller’s tankers now find themselves operating in competition with other Australian owned and operated tankers, which comply with the same industrial conditions as do Mr. Miller’s tankers.
In an endeavour to solve the difficulty in which Mr. Miller now finds himself, a conference was held recently in which the Commonwealth was represented by the Department of Shipping and Transport. The object was to try to find some way whereby Mr. Miller’s tankers could be given employment alongside other Australian owned tankers. The Commonwealth was interested enough to take part in this conference. I want the honorable senator and the Senate generally to understand that Mr. Miller has not been subjected to any discriminatory treatment.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has the Government made any plans to deal with the consequences of the drought affecting Australia? Instead of waiting for the States to come one by one to the Commonwealth for assistance, will it, for once, take the initiative and commence negotiations with the States to cope with what has now become a national disaster?
– There is a well precedented and well observed practice in this matter which has operated for many years and long before Senator Murphy entered this Parliament. This practice has proven, through the years, to be an eminently satisfactory one. As the States bear the prime responsibility it is they that take the initiative in asking the Commonwealth for relief. I imagine that this well established principle will be followed on this occasion, if it is justified.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government noted the diplomatic initiative shown by the United Kingdom Government in sending Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker to South East Asia to seek a basis for negotiations for peace in Vietnam? Has the Minister seen reports of a statement made by Mr. Walker in London last week that an eventual peace settlement might not prove too difficult once the initial contact has been made between the interested parties? In view of the importance of Mr. Walker’s mission, will the Government express its approval and support for this positive and constructive move by the British Government?
– I understand that Mr. Walker’s tour of South East Asia is to be conducted on the basis of a fact finding tour, as a result of which he will report to the British Government through the British Government’s Foreign Minister. Whatever action is taken by the British Government, as a result of the information gleaned by Mr. Walker, can be judged in the light of the circumstances as they exist when the report is made.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. It refers to an article in this morning’s “Sydney Morning Herald “, which concerns an Indonesian bid to establish a base on the mainland of Malaysia. The report states that there has been a guerrilla campaign continuing in respect of this particular incident for about a month and that 30 Indonesians have been killed and about the same number taken prisoner. I ask the Minister whether he is in a position to give the Senate the facts as authenticated by governmental exchanges of information on this matter. I ask further whether or not this matter and any associated matter is currently the subject of exchange between the embassies, or whether it is to continue as an unnoticed and unrecognised incident in an undeclared war.
– I think that the question as phrased should be placed on the notice paper so that the Minister for External Affairs can supply a considered answer.
– 1 ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he has seen the following report in the “ Australian “ of Thursday, 25th March, under the heading “ Ansett orders DC9s and it’s a hat-trick “ - - He picked the Lockheed Electra . . . and insisted on it against the T.A.A. preference for the French Caravelle jet airliner. . . . Then he picked the Boeing 727 although . . . T.A.A. ‘s technical opinion favoured the Trident.
He did not want to delay his introduction of the DC9s while waiting for T.A.A. to take delivery - as he was sure they would.
I ask the Minister: Who is running the Department of Civil Aviation - the Minister or Mr. Ansett?
– I thought the honorable senator was going to ask: Who runs the Government?
– As a supplementary question, I ask: Is it a fact that when the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. offered to take over Australia, Reg. Ansett knocked it back?
– I presume that the honorable senator would like a sensible answer to his rather exaggerated question. The. choice of an aircraft for the airlines is a matter for the airlines themselves. They are independent business organisations and they will choose in due course the aircraft that they think are best suited to their needs. The Department of Civil Aviation has received an application from Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. for approval for the purchase of DC9 aircraft. I have not had an application as yet from TransAustralia Airlines. No doubt in due course when T.A.A. is satisfied as to the aircraft it wishes to obtain it will make application to me. It is entirely a matter for the airlines themselves to make application for this purpose. In due course, when the applications come to hand, we shall give consideration to them, and approve or otherwise the acquisition of aircraft according to their availability. I assure the honorable senator that as soon as the decisions of the airlines are received the Department will deal with them.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Has the Minister been informed that a film exhibited on 24th March in the Senate Club Room, entitled “ In Song and Dance”, which comprised the study of the 1964 Northern Territory Eisteddfod and was produced by the News and Information Bureau, was much appreciated by the audience? Has the Minister been informed also that the film was thought to be superior to 90 per cent, of those which are televised in the Commonwealth? Will the Minister arrange with the Australian Broadcasting Commission to have the film televised by all the national television stations?
– I did not see the film but I am very glad indeed to hear that its technical standard, apparently, was excellent. 1 shall have great pleasure in conveying the honorable senator’s views and request to the Minister for the Interior.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen in today’s Press a report of a statement by the Minister for Supply, Mr. Fairhall, that Australia’s capacity for defence production was adequate to meet any limited war that could be envisaged? This report stated that Mr. Fairhall was speaking after the first combined meeting of the reorganised Industry Advisory Committees. He was reported to have said that 30 per cent, of the members of the Committees were sitting on them for the first time and that they had had no previous contact with defence production, foreign affairs and the policy of the Department of Supply. If the Minister for Supply was correctly reported, and the Industry Advisory Committees have just been reorganised so that 30 per cent, of the personnel are new members, what continuity of experience or planning for defence production exists apart from Government departments upon which to base the assessment that capacity for defence production is adequate to meet any limited war? Has the reported meeting any special significance in relation to the position in South East Asia?
– The honorable senator asks a long and involved question as to what Mr. Fairhall said and, in effect, what he meant. Probably the best way I could deal with the question would be to ask the honorable senator to put it on the notice paper so that Mr. Fairhall could answer it. However, I will endeavour to answer the question because I believe that the honorable senator is seeking information. Let me say at once that the meeting called by Mr. Fairhall has no specific significance to any particular situation in South East Asia or elsewhere. It is part of the Government’s programme of seeing that, in the event of any hostilities or emergency, those concerned should be aware of what is to be done.
This particular meeting takes its place in a long and -continuing line of meetings. For example, the Department of Defence, with the Department of Supply, has over a number of years carried out in the various States each year, and probably two or three times each year in the more industrialised States, industrial mobilisation courses. This has now become a part of the normal pattern of Department of Defence and Department of Supply activities.
The Department of Supply has felt that some of the top level committees representing certain categories of industry might be modernised or better organised to meet today’s conditions, and in recent months that Department has undertaken a reorganisation of the industry group committees. The recent meeting was the first meeting of the re-organised industry group committees. I repeat that this is a part of the Government’s, indeed of the nation’s action to inform people who should be informed of what might be required of them in the event of an emergency. I hope that this kind of activity will attract the approbation of most members of the Australian public.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate consult with the Prime Minister on the setting up of a scheme similar to that which operated in war time, namely the war damage insurance scheme, so that losses incurred as a result of fire, flood and drought may be covered by insurance?
– The same proposition has been put to the Government in peacetime years by a number of senators. Let me say at once that in the forefront of those senators has been my Western Australian colleague, Senator Tangney. I do not think, as a matter of practicality, that any good purpose would be served by my asking the Prime Minister to look at this matter again. What I will undertake to do - I hope this will be of assistance - is to make available to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition the lengthy statements which have been provided in the past in answer to questions on this matter, showing why, in time of peace, the scheme suggested could not be applied to the Australian scene.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Are large quantities of surplus wheat stored in emergency storage facilities throughout Australia, particularly in the wheat growing areas of New South Wales? Have the Canadian and United States Governments recently announced reductions in the prices of their wheat? Has this caused Australia any difficulty in securing additional sales abroad? What steps are being taken by the Government or by the Australian Wheat Board to step up the sale overseas of Australia’s wheat production? What approaches has the Australian Government made to the Canadian and United States authorities about the recently announced price reductions?
– The disposal of the Australian wheat crop is in the very good hands of the Australian Wheat Board which acts as an independent body. I know of no big surplus of wheat in Australia last season and I have not been informed whether there is a surplus from the current crop. The Australian Wheat Board sells Australian wheat in competition throughout the world and has been very successful over the years in disposing of the Australian wheat crop. I understand that the crop last year was a record. I do not think the honorable senator need worry while our wheat is in the hands of an independent authority which is prepared to meet competition and sell our wheat to the best advantage of Australia and the wheat growers. As to the other matters mentioned by the honorable senator in his question, if he will put them on the notice paper I will ask the Minister to supply the information.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. Does the Minister know whether, as reported in a section of the Press, a British aircraft company is willing to initiate an aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia if it can obtain a contract to sell 75 jet trainer air craft to the Royal Australian Air Force? I understand that the R.A.A.F. is very interested in aircraft of this type.
– I know no more than what I have seen in the Press about this matter and it was probably the same article to which the honorable senator refers. He will recall that at the end of last year when the statement on the new defence programme was made, the proposals included an order for 75 jet trainer aircraft and the R.A.A.F., within the course of a few months, was to engage in an evaluation study of the trainer aircraft available in this field. The R.A.A.F. team conducting the study is at present overseas inspecting likely aircraft. I imagine that the article in the Press was an outcrop of the team’s inquiries in Great Britain.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact, as reported in the Press at the weekend, that Australia has abandoned the proposition to resettle Nauruans on Curtis Island when the phosphate deposits are worked out in Nauru? Is there any other scheme in view to rehabilitate the Nauruans and if so will any statement on the matter be made to the Parliament rather than by letter to a private member, as in the present instance?
– The question should have been directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, but since he is the same Minister, it does not make much difference. The best I can do is to bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Territories.
(Question No. 369.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
– by leave - Mr. Deputy President, I wish to make a statement relating to a drawing by India from the International Monetary Fund, which took place yesterday. I should explain that for the first time Australian currency is being used in such a transaction and this, I feel, makes it a matter of some historical importance and of particular interest to the Senate. More precisely, Australia has made available to the International Monetary Fund Australian currency to the extent of £5.6 million - equivalent to 12.5 million dollars - as part of a drawing from the Fund by India of 100 million dollars in various currencies to assist it to meet balance of payment difficulties. This transaction has taken place under a stand-by credit agreed earlier this month between India and the Fund under which India would be able to draw up to 200 million dollars from the Fund in the next twelve months if this proves to be necessary. The Australian Government has already made known to the Fund and to the Indian authorities its willingness to make a further £5.6 million available should a further drawing be requested by India at a later stage.
I should explain to honorable senators that although we have made this amount of £5.6 million available to the Fund in the first instance in our own currency, the transaction will entail a reduction by an equal amount in our overseas funds, i.e., in our “ first line “ reserves. When countries draw a package of currencies from the fund they usually convert those currencies into the currency or currencies in which they normally hold their reserves. We adopted that course in respect of our own drawings from the Fund and India proposes to adopt the same practice and convert the Australian pounds into sterling. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank is transferring an equivalent amount of sterling to India in exchange for the Australian currency which India has received from the Fund. At the same time, by making our currency available in this fashion, we also receive an equivalent increase in our own drawing rights in the Fund. In effect, therefore, the transaction represents a transfer from our “ first line “ reserves to the “ second line “ reserves which we hold in the Fund.
On more than one occasion when Australia has encountered temporary balance of payments difficulties, we have drawn other members’ currencies from the Fund - the last occasion being in 1961, when we made a drawing of £78 million. As I have already indicated, we have not hitherto made our own currency available to the Fund for drawings by other members. In selecting the currencies to be used in drawings, the Fund does not seek assistance from a member unless that member’s balance of payments and reserves position is reasonably strong. Indeed, for many years after World War II, drawings from the Fund were made almost exclusively in United States dollars. In more recent years, however, the Fund has drawn extensively on the currencies of European countries - including smaller countries such as Spain and Sweden - and it has also drawn on the currencies of Japan and Canada. Naturally, it strengthens the Fund’s ability to provide assistance to members if as many countries as possible make their currencies available for this purpose, and we” are very happy to meet the request which the Fund has made to us on this occasion.
I am sure that honorable senators will share my pleasure that, in our first venture into this field of international monetary cooperation, the country which is receiving assistance is India, a fellow member of the Commonwealth. It will be recalled that we recently made a gift to India of wheat valued at £3.75 million. Of course, had the Fund request been related to a drawing by some other country we would have wished to assist to the best of our ability, but we are very glad indeed that the country that is making this first drawing of our currency happens in fact to be India.
Debate resumed from 25th March (vide page 154), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper - Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 23rd March 1965.
– Mr. Deputy President, the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), which the Senate is discussing, is very important. It deals with a number of aspects of Australia’s foreign policy, especially with the current tragic situation in Vietnam, the disturbing Indonesian confrontation of Malaysia, the problem of relations with Asia and Asians generally, and the attitude of this and other countries towards the United Nations and its future. On each of these important subjects the Minister’s statement spelt out the general principles of the Government’s policy. In the course of that exercise the Minister managed very successfully, though, perhaps unwittingly, to draw attention to the prejudices of the Government and the deficiencies of its policy. I propose to say something about each of them and about all of them together, because taken together they represent certain attitudes on the part of this Government which . the Opposition believes are supine, negative and lacking in the kind of initiative that one would expect of this country at this stage of its development.
May I deal, first, with some of the problems that are involved in the situation in South Vietnam. The Government’s position is quite clear from the Minister’s statement. It strongly supports the present escalated military activities of the United States of America in the bombing of North Vietnam. The Government supports those activities, not only because it is the United States which is carrying them out. but because it believes that the course adopted is fundamentally correct. The Government might well have said: “ There are certain aspects of this about which we are not entirely happy. We have reservations as to its effectiveness. We have reservations as to whether it is the correct action to take in the circumstances as an alternative to seeking negotiations in the immediate future, but we are going along with it because we want to express our loyalty and support for our great ally the United States.” If the Government had said that and no more, to my mind that would have been an understandable position. But what the Minister has done on this occasion has been to wait until the United States of America has made up its mind which horn of the dilemma it will grasp and then the Government has proceeded to erect a whole series of arguments, ex post facto justifications and rationalisations, to bolster up the position that it has taken on the matter.
May I develop that point in this way? President Johnson obviously had a very difficult problem. This has been said by every responsible commentator, statesman and political leader in the world. The problem was whether to continue with the long drawn out Vietnamese war in the way that it has proceeded for a number of years, whether to pull out - to use the vernacular expression - without further argument at this stage, or whether to do what eventually has been done, that is to seek an expansion, an acceleration, an escalation of the military effort on the stated ground that this action is likely to bring closer a situation in which fruitful negotiations for settlement can take place. Basically, the argument turns upon whether the policy being pursued by the United States and enthusiastically supported by our Government - indeed, with more vehemence and eloquence than in the United States - will be effective in bringing nearer the time when negotiations can take place, or whether it will have the opposite effect of making it more and more difficult for negotiations to take place.
The Commonwealth Government through the mouth of the Minister for External Affairs, has not - inevitably I think - met the challenge posed by that difficult choice facing the President of the United States. Because it has a supine and negative attitude on these matters, our Government has contented itself by saying: “ Not only do we go along with that policy, but we think this is the only course the President had to take”. Honorable senators can see that very clearly spelt out in the Minister’s statement.
The Opposition does not accept that position. We say that the stated purpose of any type of activity of a military character or otherwise in Vietnam at this moment is to accelarate the time when the parties can be brought together and, if necessary, have their heads knocked together in order to work out a sensible political settlement. Our approach is that the military aspect is only part of a very broad picture in which an effort of vast proportions is demanded of the western world and of those who want to see a situation of stability in South East Asia. Senator Cavanagh last Thursday made what I thought was a very interesting and important speech in which be dealt with the whole question of the kind of forces necessary to defeat Communism in South East Asia. He dealt with the overall challenge of the Chinese colossus and with the underlying social and economic problems that have to be talked and with the immense forces, that must be mobilised. He emphasised the relative importance of such matters compared with the military factor in the situation.
The Australian Labour Party is not alone in taking the view that something must be done to bring the parties together. The proposition is involved in the very escalation of the war, in the increasing attacks . on North Vietnam from the air. lt is clearly debatable whether such methods will bring the day of peace nearer.
But since we last met in this Chamber, there have been events which have cast the shadow a little longer over the scene. There has been an overt undertaking by the Peking Government to assist the Government of North Vietnam by military means. There has been the hardening line of the Soviet Union on the problem. There has been the reported attitude of General Maxwell Taylor, the American Ambassador in South Vietnam, that he will seek from Washington this week authority to step up even further the tempo of the war and the magnitude of the aerial attacks. There have been reports of the use of non-lethal gas in the war - admittedly a month or two ago - but we are now being informed of the situation in which this type of gas has been used. I want to say something in connection with that a little later on.
On the positive side, we have had something that I thought the Government would be ready to take up and to welcome; that is the announcement over the weekend by the British Prime Minister that Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker - a highly respected former Foreign Secretary, a man who is well liked and who is regarded not only in Labour Party circles but throughout the Western world as a man of balance and integrity - has been sent by. the Government of the United Kingdom to test out the position in the critical area, to see whether he can discuss the matter with the principal parties involved and to search for a basis upon which fruitful negotiations for ending this war can take place. I would have thought that, if ever there were an initiative which should have been welcomed by the Government, it is this one.
– The Bishops asked for it and they were knocked back.
– They asked for it and they were somewhat ungraciously knocked back. They were knocked back, I think, quite unfairly, and on the basis of misconstruing a very important expression in the letter which they, the 13 Anglican Bishops, addressed to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). They asked only for Australia to join in some effort to secure an honorable peace but they were delivered a high sounding lecture on their responsibilities and were treated like a pack of schoolboys.
– A pompous lecture.
– I will not use any more adjectives. The honorable senator interjected and gave me the opportunity to say something I was going to say a little later on. Here, on Mr. Gordon Walker’s mission, is the sort of thing we in the Labour Party are talking about. Apparently it had President Johnson’s prior knowledge and approval. What answer did I get from the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) 20 minutes ago when I asked whether the Government would express its approval of and support for this important mission? He parried the question and said: “ It is a fact finding mission and we will see later on what it has to report”. This Government will not step out of line by half an inch unless it believes it has the express approval of the great and important ally whom it is supporting in this struggle. The Leader of the Government had an opportunity but he turned his back on it. Quite plainly, anything which would tend to blur the outline - anything which would tend to make less black and white the underlying assumptions of the Government’s policy - is something which the Government does not welcome.
I think there is this to be said: Our Government takes the position that it supports the policy of the United States in this matter. And therefore, in order to test the soundness of that policy, it is necessary to go not to what our Government is doing about the matter but to what the United States Government is doing about it.
I want to refer to some very pertinent remarks that have been made on this subject by a noted political commentator. I am not sure that his views meet with everybody’s approval; they certainly are critical of administration policy in the United States of America. But every Australian capital city seems to carry a weekly article by the well-known commentator, Walter Lippmann. He put the problem in a very sensible way. At any rate, he reduced it to some simple elements which most of us, T think, can understand. He called for a serious reappraisal of United States policy in Indo-China. He stated -
It will have to be reappraised in order to avert disaster: The disaster of our expulsion from the area, leaving China supreme over it, and the disaster also of an escalation to a ChineseAmerican war.
This is a pessimistic view, but it is the view that Lippmann put forward with clarity. He continued -
The stated aim of our current policy is to persuade Hanoi to call off its intervention in
South Vietnam and to agree to an international conference.
The success of the policy depends on a highly theoretical assumption: That we can find a point where our measured blows will not be so strong that they precipitate “a wider war” - a North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam or the entrance of a Chinese army into Indo-China.
But while the bombing must not be so heavy as to precipitate the wider war, it must be heavy enough to compel Hanoi to give up the struggle in which it is engaged.
There are no signs that we arc anywhere near finding this quite imaginary point between not too much and just enough bombing.
He said -
In my view, the bombing policy is not working because it is only half a policy. It is half baked, or, to change the metaphor, it is all stick and no carrot.
What he means by that statement is that the policy lacks the essential definition of saying openly on what terms the United States Government would be prepared to enter into negotiation for a political settlement in the whole of Vietnam. The same proposition was put to the United States Congress in a resolution introduced last week by Senator Javits, a highly respected Republican senator from New York. He urged the Senate to affirm America’s willingness to undertake “honorable negotiations “ in Vietnam. The resolution stated -
It is not enough to express our determination to prevent the Communists from taking over South Vietnam, although that is our goal. We must also determine what kind of a negotiated’ settlement we are prepared to consider and state ils general principles to the nation and the world.
That is an important point of view. It is a view which finds very wide acceptance.
I introduced this argument in order to show that one has to look at both sides of the question. I think it is wrong of the Chinese and of the North Vietnamese to insist upon the withdrawal of American forces as a precondition of any kind of talks. But it is also wrong for the United States to insist upon the complete cessation of all attacks - not only North Vietnamese attacks, but also Vietcong attacks - as a precondition of talks. If both sides adhere to this uncompromising attitude it is plain that there must be a head-on collision between the two giants - America and China - in the not too distant future. Something has to be done to avert that ultimate madness and tragedy. Something statesmanlike has to be done to see whether in an exploratory way they can be brought together. These are not propositions that are in any way a presentation of an outlandish point of view on the matter. They are shared by a very large number of Americans, including some influential leaders in the United States Congress itself and in the organs of government and the administration, and they are endorsed widely in Asia, Europe and other parts of the Western world.
I sum up what I have to say on this particular question in this way: We take issue with the Government over its essentially negative attitude to its responsibilities in this area. We all understand that this is an immense problem. It is not easy of solution and it is profoundly worrying and disturbing to anybody who has the welfare of his fellow man at heart. But somehow or other we miss in the Australian Government the capacity for moving, even slightly, away from the line, into a position where it can be said, not only to Mr. Wilson, the British Prime Minister, “ We applaud your efforts in sending Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker to the trouble spot”, but also to the United States: “We applaud this effort and we support those who have raised their voices in favour of negotiations to bring about a ceasefire now”. That has not been done and it does not look as though-
– The American President himself has said that within the past seven days, has he not?
– He has said it. What I am complaining about, if that is the right word, is that he has not spelt out - and I do not suppose that one can expect him to do it in detail - the kind of place that Vietnam is to be as a result of successful negotiations, that is, short of unconditional surrender, short of a complete military victory. We do not know. I am sure the Australian Government does not know. I see the honorable senator shaking his head. I dare say that he will have his own comments to make on the situation in the course of this debate. We in our party are not alone in stressing the importance of moving to positive initiatives on this problem.
In the same way, when the Minister comes to deal in his statement with the future of United Nations, he again takes an essentially negative position. He goes through the motions of expressing Australia’s unqualified support for the United Nations, but he qualifies that immediately by referring to two matters which more or less cancel out his original position. He says that experience has shown that -
His second observation is - . . at the present time the General Assembly, and indeed the Security Council, cannot be relied upon as a significant and effective means of keeping the peace of the world.
I do not underestimate the difficulties that we all have in using the United Nations effectively at the present moment. Certain weaknesses have appeared and they are imposing great stress on the international organisation itself, but I missed completely - and I have read the Minister’s speech several times - any reference at all to the appeal made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, to the parties involved in the South East Asian conflict to shift the quest for a solution away from the battlefield to the conference table. That was an earnest and eloquent plea by a man occupying this centra] position as permanent head of the United Nations, and it was completely ignored by the Minister.
– About what date was that?
– It was 25th February. U Thant renewed his previous appeal for a negotiated settlement of the Vietnam crisis to enable the United States, as he put it, to “ withdraw gracefully “. He was expressing an opinion based upon what the Burmese experienced in his own time. He said that he did not now advocate and never had advocated the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, that this involved questions of “ face and prestige “, but that the United States could withdraw “ with dignity “ once diplomatic and political methods had produced a perceptible improvement in the situation and restored some sort of stability. It was obvious at the time that that plea did not have a warm reception in the United States Administration. But that does not mean that it should not find a ready response in our country, as it did in other countries of the world.
It is not of much assistance for the Minister to complain about the ineffectiveness of the United Nations at the present time, to pledge full and unqualified support for that Organisation and then not even to mention in a statement of this kind the initiative that had come from the SecretaryGeneral in relation to the most burning military question of the day. I think it is important that we should continue to pin our faith on the United Nations. I believe that, with all its imperfections, we must build and enhance its prestige and not denigrate it. It started with very high hopes. It has run into some massive difficulties created by polarisation of different power groups in the cold war, and it has had some important new problems since the rapid multiplication of the number of member States, particularly from the emerging countries of Asia and -Africa.
In one sense it is wilting under the strain, but it must have our unqualified support as the forum in which international conflicts can be fought out, rather than on the battlefield, and as the place where some kind of conciliatory and negotiating machinery can be evolved whenever a practical situation arises to be dealt with. That is why the Australian Labour Party always suggests the United Nations as the first avenue of recourse whenever there is an international conflict. Wc did that in relation to events to our near north in the Indonesian situation. We have done it in relation to South East Asia. Primarily, of course, we would like to see the reconvening of the Geneva Conference. Perhaps even now, in spite of hardening attitudes on both sides, it is not too late to find a way to reconvene that conference, which created a political settlement at the end of the war in Indo-China. Britain and Russia, as cochairmen, must try again to find it. It is perhaps a little optimistic to think in that way, but this certainly is not something which we should put aside as being unattainable.
I want to refer briefly to the conflict to our near north. The Australian Labour Party has made it plain on many occasions that it strongly disapproves of and opposes Indonesia’s policy of confrontation. Nevertheless, we have maintained that we want Australia to have long term good relationships with both Malaysia and Indonesia. As
I have levelled some strong criticism at the Minister and the Government in these remarks, let me say in fairness that the Minister has exhibited a rather balanced attitude towards the current problem of whether economic aid of one kind or another to Indonesia should be continued. There has been a good deal of pressure on him to withdraw all forms of aid. We in our Party state quite plainly that we think the present forms of aid, short of anything which would give military assistance to Indonesia, should be continued. In recent days the Minister, I think quite properly, has resisted attempts to abandon all forms of aid and has emphasised that fundamentally there are long term reasons why good relationships should continue between Australia and Indonesia.
The Australian Labour Party has stated recently that all Australian initiative in the area - we believe that the Government could take some initiative but has not yet done so - should be exercised having in mind that Indonesian/ Austral ian friendship is not only possible but essential for the wellbeing of both countries, and that we should press and offer to negotiate a friendship, trade and non-aggression pact with Indonesia at the earliest appropriate time. This is not an isolated attitude for the Australian Labour Party to adopt. We have adopted as a cardinal point of our policy in these matters that conditions should be developed by which pacts of friendship, trade and non-aggression can be established with all the peoples of South East Asia, both those who have stabilised political conditions and those who in due course will have stabilised political conditions. That is the only firm basis of lasting and positive peace in the area.
We should be prepared to do much more than we are now doing by way of contribution to the welfare and development of under developed countries. We pledge ourselves, as a matter of party policy, that not less than 1 per cent, of Australia’s national income should be spent on aid to under developed nations. At present we are spending about i per cent, of our national income in this way, and two-thirds of that percentage goes to New Guinea. We are not wedded to 1 per cent, as having any final and ultimate wisdom, but we have suggested it because it indicates a desire to offer a definite minimum amount of our annual national income to those who are sorely in need.
We have suggested also that such aid be provided on the basis of a pooling of resources of all the nations in the area rather than on the selective basis on which very valuable programmes like the Colombo Plan are now carried out. This is not an argument against the Colombo Plan; it is an argument for a greatly enlarged concept of the pooling of resources on a regional basis in this part of the world.
– An escalation of peaceful purposes.
– An escalation of peaceful purposes and developmental effort. As a party we have endorsed the proposal made by our Federal leader that to remove any ground for Indonesia’s fears of encirclement a four power guarantee of Indonesia’s security and independence be offered. We believe that to be important because it would remove any basis for the argument that Indonesia was under attack or in danger from those she is at present confronting with such vigour.
Let me refer now to the general observation that the Minister made in his statement about Australia’s relationships with Asia. High minded as many of his phrases are, his statement falls short of offering some kind of tangible expression to the people of Asia of what we want to do for them. As I said a little earlier, and as Senator Cavanagh pointed out the other day in his speech, there has to be on our part a massive effort to convince the people of Asia by practical example and precept that we want to help them to live out their lives in freedom, to establish conditions under which they can govern themselves in freedom and security and to have standards approaching the standards that we in our more fortunate part of the world enjoy.
The plain fact is that two out of three people in this world go to bed hungry every night and most of them live in Asia and Africa. Unless we confront that basic reality of life, no kind of policy, whether it comes from our great ally or from us, is going to be effective in stemming the challenge of another ideology and another great nation which is becoming the dominating power in this area of the world. In this connection, the use of certain weapons becomes open to serious question. It might be argued in a university seminar, or among a group of doctors or academics who are intelligent, sophisticated people of the world, that non-lethal gas is more merciful than bombs. But the use of non-lethal gas in North Vietnam and the disclosure of the more than occasional use of napalm bombs means that we have suffered, by association with this action, something of a propaganda loss as well as a loss of goodwill among the peoples of Asia. Nowhere have I found this better expressed that in :in editorial in the “New York Times” of 25th March 1965. With the leave of the Senate, I shall have this editorial incorporated in “ Hansard “ and I shall quote from it briefly.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Benn). - Is leave granted?
Government supporters. - No.
– I propose, then, to read extensively from the editorial. I do not know why supporters of the Government object to its incorporation in “ Hansard “.
– I for one want lo understand it and therefore I should like to hear it read.
– The heading is “ Gas (Nonlethal) in Vietnam “, and the editorial states -
The United States, in steady escalation of the Vietnamese conflict, is now revealed to have employed a nonlethal gas. It is possible to argue, as American military and civilian spokesmen have, that military objectives can be achieved with fewer casualties by using a gas that does not kill.
This argument overlooks one vital factor; and it displays, at the very least, a lack of imagination somewhere in the top echelons of the armed forces. People - ordinary people everywhere - have a strong psychological revulsion, if not horror, at the idea of any kind of poisonous gas, even a temporarily disabling type that only causes extreme discomfort including nausea and diarrhoea when used against ordinarily healthy adults. But even this kind of gas can be fatal to the very young, the very old and those ill with heart and lung ailments.
In Vietnam, gas was supplied and sanctioned by white men against Asians. This is something that no Asian, Communist or not, will forget. No other country has employed such a weapon in recent warfare. If the United States believed that people everywhere would be logical and “ sensible ;ind would understand that non-lethal gas constitutes really only another normal form of warfare and even a relatively humane one, someone has blundered grievously.
War, as Clausewitz said, “ is only a part of political intercourse, therefore by no means an independent thing in itself.” It is stupid to lay the United States open to a moral condemnation that is not confined to the Communist world.
The United States claims to be fighting in Vietnam for freedom, right, justice and other moral principles, as well as against Communism and for the security of the United States and the free world. By using a noxious gas- even of ‘ a nonlethal type - the Johnson Administration is falling back toward the old axiom that all’s fair in war. But this happens to be a war in which the moral stature of the United States is at least as vital as bullets, shells and bombs. Gas is a wretched means to achieve even the most valid ends. 1 wanted to direct attention to the fact that the effect on the peoples of Asia of the use of even such a non-lethal gas has been disastrous. And here, in the Senate, the Australian Government had an opportunity to dissociate itself from the use of this weapon. At a time when a question was asked on this matter it was assumed apparently that the gas used was poisonous. In the event, from what we have discovered and have been told, the gas that was used was non-lethal. But on the assumption that it was poison gas, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) was asked by Senator Murphy to say that whatever had happened in the past, the Government would not in the future be associated or identified in any way with the use of such poison gas. The Leader of the Government, however, said that he was unable to give such an assurance.
I should have thought that it would be demonstrably in Australia’s interests and entirely proper for the Minister to have given a firm assurance. It was quite proper for him to seek to have the facts investigated, as he did, but the Leader of the Government could have given an assurance that if poison gas were used, we would not go along with such action. That assurance was not given and to that extent inevitably we will be regarded as involved in this sort of activity.
I conclude by saying that the matters that have been raised in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs are of great consequence to us in Australia. One does not take a critical position on such matters merely for the sake of taking it. It would be more comfortable to be able to say that what has been said in the Minister’s statement was said on behalf of everyone without qualification. But that is not possible because the statement indicates that the bask ingredients of positive initiative are missing from the Government’s approach and the Government’s policy at every point where a problem has arisen in the conduct of our international affairs. To that extent we must criticise the policy that has been enunciated and look forward to a time when a government can speak on behalf of all Australians and say that Australia is ready to take an active part in ascertaining whether peace can be brought to the world.
.- Before I deal with the matters that have been raised by Senator Cohen, it is my duty and, indeed, my inclination to revert to the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I was very impressed by the Leader of the Opposition’s speech on foreign affairs. It was calm and dispassionate and carried with it a sense of responsibility which undoubtedly the honorable senator has derived from his experience as a Minister of the Crown and his occupancy of the position of the Leader of the Opposition. As such, the honorable senator will be one of Her Majesty’s Ministers if another administration is formed. I was pleased to hear him state the general attitude of the Australian Labour Party to its foreign policy because that implied that at long last the Labour Party has been able to sort out what its foreign policy is. That is at least a substantial step to a bipartisan foreign policy which should be the objective of every member of Parliament whether he sits on the right or the left of the Chair.
The Leader of the Opposition said- and I shall deal with this matter in more detail later - that responsibility lay with the United Nations Organisation as the ultimate peacekeeping forum of the world. He quoted the Leader of the Opposition in another place as having said that we should regularise our external obligations by having treaty arrangements with other countries in South East Asia. I will deal with those two aspects which are worthy of comment and worthy of praise.
Most senators on this side of the chamber were interested in Senator Cavanagh’s speech. The honorable senator made a very thoughtful speech which conveyed to me his awareness of an enlarged responsibility that, perhaps, he did not understand when he first came to the Senate. Indeed, most of us do not have that awareness when we first come to this place. I want to take up a point, if I may, that Senator Cavanagh raised. This point is repeated, repeated and repeated until it becomes a slogan in a world in which foreign affairs seems to be conducted as a slogan. The point was that the advent of Communism, wherever it may be, is caused by the misery of social conditions as the result of which Communism eventually becomes the dominant ideology in a particular country or area. This belief is patently not true, because in the records of Communist imperialism, if I might use the word in that phrase, the Communists are shown to have arrived at power not because of misery in the areas in which they have achieved power, but simply because of the military capacity they have been able to exert in the area in which they want to take charge and which they want to overcome.
This situation is particularly clear in Europe where Communist imperialism - in this case Russian imperialism - overran Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany and Hungary. Those countries were not acquired as the result of the economic misery of the people who lived in them. Czechoslovakia is one of the most socially advanced countries in the whole of Europe. The Communists arrived in the position of power there not as a result of the misery of the masses of Czechoslovakia but simply because the country was conquered.
This is also true of South-East Asia. I recollect quite clearly that, when the debate on the events in the Gulf of Tonkin was taking place in the Senate last year, the Leader of the Opposition drew attention to the vast sums of money which had been poured into South Vietnam by the United States Government in an attempt - a partially successful attempt - to rehabilitate the economic conditions of the people in South Vietnam. It was not until this attempt was beginning to be successfully accomplished by the then Government of South Vietnam that, in defiance of the 1954 Geneva Agreement, the Vietcong began to make incursions into South Vietnam, So, the pattern in South Vietnam is the reverse of that which Senator Cavanagh has described. The success of an economic re habilitation in that area was the very thing that attracted the Communists into South Vietnam. It was certainly not the reason claimed, I suggest, by Senator Cavanagh.
Senator McKenna quite rightly said that the United Nations is the ultimate forum in which the peaceful affairs of the world should be kept. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has taken the piecaution, because this is inherent in the nature of the honorable gentleman, to deal with this particular subject. Of course, the problem lies in the inherent weakness of the United Nations itself. I think Senator Cohen might have done the Senate at least the service ‘ of turning to the “ Notes on International Affairs “, supplementary to the statement made in the House of Representatives on 23rd March by the Minister for External Affairs, in which there is primed a statement made by the Minister when he attended the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on 1 1 th December 1 964. The Minister said -
The Charter itself uses the word “obligations” more than once.
The Minister went on to say -
It is a condition of the entry of new members that they accept the obligations contained in the Charter and, in the judgment of the Organisation, are able and willing to carry out those obligations.
In his address to the General Assembly the Minister stated -
We are all deeply concerned at the moment, and very rightly concerned, because in several parts of the world there is military strife and bloodshed. Nowhere is this more evident than in South East Asia, an area of great concern to Australia. Before we start seeking to find the reason for this in the failure or imperfection of the Organisation in its peace-keeping role, let us face frankly the fact that several of these situations would never have occurred and many of them would disappear if only individual members of the United Nations would honour their obligations. . . .
He also said -
It is the failure of members to honour their own obligations - a matter initially in the sovereign control of each of them - that creates the danger and we will be avoiding the basic issue if we start talking about improving peace-keeping machinery before each member individually faces up to the basic cause of the breakdown.
In stating this, the Minister drew to the attention of the General Assembly its own weaknesses. There is no person more able, more worthy or better able to handle the ultimate problems with which we are confronted today than the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant. But how can he do so if the organisation of which he is Secretary-General has neither the will nor the capacity to enforce the edicts of either the General Assembly or the Security Council?
In the speech on international affairs which he made in another place on 23rd March last, the Minister, in discussing the power structure in which we are involved at the present moment, dealt with the very facts which have been raised in a condemnatory way by Senator Cavanagh. The Minister said -
Having spoken of power situations. I would talk of a fourth aspect of my own view of world affairs. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that power is not enough. In a world of power, peace is only maintained on a precarious balance and it is plain that recourse to power as a means of security is in essence a readiness to have recourse to war. There will never be full security for anyone unless and until the exercise of power is made subject to agreed principles of international conduct and, in a world of international states, that means that the possessors of power, will restrict, by their own pledges, their own use of power.
I cannot for the life of me see how Senator Cohen can complain or state - he did so state - that the Australian point of view has not been expressed. Australia’s point of view has been expressed quite clearly, quite coherently, and quite cogently in the ultimate forum in which the international relations between states are conducted.
It would be tedious for me to discuss the levels at which the United Nations has failed or partially failed. For example, the current situation in Cyprus is a matter of enormous concern. Notwithstanding the United Nations’ peace-keeping forces in Cyprus at the present moment, it is the power, prestige and ability of the United States of America that are preventing Cyprus from becoming a cockpit at this time. It is not the United Nations. It was the ability of the United States, for example, which prevented the entry into Cyprus in the past week of ground to air guided missiles, provided by Russia and coming via Egypt. The results of the United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts in the Congo are hardly achievements to elevate my opinion of the ability of the United Nations to intrude effectively and enforce its mandate in South East Asia, because, in fact, the United Nations’ peace-keeping effort in the Congo has failed for the simple reason that the national states mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs do not meet the obligation of members of the organisation to pay the levies which may be imposed in the terms of the Charter of the United Nations. This has been so held by the International Court of Justice.
I have to tackle the remarks which have been made in a most general way by Senator Cohen in relation to the events in South Vietnam. I thought that this matter had been debated almost until there was nothing but a frayed edge of string left. However, I believe that this point has to be restated constantly because it is constantly evaded in debates in this place on South East Asia. The events in South East Asia were brought, it was hoped, to a conclusion by the good offices, initially, of Great Britain at Geneva when an agreement was obtained which was known as the Geneva Agreement or the Geneva Accord. Russia agreed to become co-chairman of the Geneva. Conference with Great Britain. The agreement provided for the maintenance of peace in that area along the 17th parallel. It was a substantial and lengthy agreement. An international commission consisting of Poland, India and another country was appointed to observe whether there were any evasions of the Geneva Agreement.
– It was Canada.
– I think it was Canada. Since 1957 there have been constant evasions of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 on the part of the Hanoi regime in North Vietnam. The incursions of its forces into South Vietnam have been constant and remorseless. The stage has been reached where the Vietcong guerrillas, who have been maintained through the Ho Chi Minh trail in the west, control large areas of South Vietnam. I reject in the most vehement terms I can command any suggestion that the Vietcong forces are controlling large areas of South Vietnam because they have been able to persuade the peasant farmers that they have come to them as liberators. The fact is that they have established a reign of terror, murder and rapine throughout the whole of the area in question. It is in a state of terror.
The object of this exercise is to try to destroy the legitimate government in South Vietnam. The incursions of the Vietcong forces and the remorseless pressure that they have, been able to maintain on the people of South Vietnam have created the conditions that they sought to create - the total instability of any government in that country. The instability of the various governments that have been in office in South Vietnam has not stemmed from any instability on the part of the people themselves; it has been the result of the condition of instability that has been established by the Vietcong. In the eyes of the Vietcong or of the Chinese People’s Republic, the war in South Vietnam is legitimate. In their eyes, it is a holy war. It has its own legitimacy, because, in the belief and in the dialect of the Communists, what is called a war of liberation is a just war. I repeat that in the dialect of the Communist party this war has its own legality and legitimacy.
What is the situation with the United States of America? The United States has poured treasure into South Vietnam; it has tried to help the people. The United States is seeking some method by which a settlement can be reached. Although Senator Cohen was at some pains to state that nobody was making any attempt to establish an accord or to re-establish the Geneva Agreement, the fact is that Mr. Wilson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, which was one of the co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference of 1954, asked the Soviet Foreign Minister to travel to London to meet him. The Soviet Foreign Minister did so. Mr. Wilson suggested that, as cochairmen, Britain and Russia should convene a meeting of the Geneva powers to see whether it was possible to obtain some stability or some method by which this frightful war in South Vietnam, which is causing untold misery to millions of people, could be stopped. Senator Cohen did not say that Russia refused to have anything to do with the proposal.
– I did not say that I would not support a reconvening of the Geneva Conference.
– I am just saying that, with a view to finding a means by which this bloody war could be stopped, Great Britain, as one of the co-chairmen, took the initiative in seeking to reconvene a meeting of the powers that met at Geneva in 1954. Russia refused to have anything to do with the proposal.
Then, quite properly, the Prime Minister of Great Britain sent Mr. Stewart, his
Foreign Secretary, to Washington to see whether it was possible to arrive at some accord whereby the war in South Vietnam could be ended. I have before me the text of a statement made by President Johnson which was issued in Washington, D.C., on 23rd March. These are the words of the President of the United States of America -
The United States wilt never be second in seeking a settlement in Vietnam that is based on an end of Communist aggression. As I have said in every part of the Union-
That is, in the United States of America -
I am ready to go anywhere at any time, and meet with anyone wherever there is promise of progress toward an honorable peace. We have said many times to all who are interested in our principles for honorable negotiation that we seek no more than a return to the essentials of the agreements of 1954 - a reliable arrangement to guarantee the independence and security of all in South East Asia.
That area includes not only South Vietnam. The President continued -
At present the Communist aggressors have given no sign of .any willingness to move in this direction, but as they recognise the costs of their present course, and their own true interest in peace, there may come a change - if we all remain united.
The President of the United States has spelt out in the clearest possible terms the fact that his country is seeking a means by which this horrible war can be ended. The United States asks that, as a preliminary step, there at least be a restoration of the agreement of 1954 and a withdrawal of all forces to the 17th parallel.
Having discovered that that was the attitude of the United States, I was interested in ascertaining what China, the great power that was referred to by Senator Cohen, had to say about the situation. I have with me an extract from the “ New Statesman” of 26th March 1965. This publication is the Socialist Bible which the lunatic fringe of the Socialist party, the intellectuals and the egg heads, use constantly as reading matter. It is to be found under their pillows if not their beds. This is a report of an interview between Chou En-lai and Mr. K. S. Karol which was granted in Peking, I imagine, two or three days before 26th March -
It is true, replied Chou, that Britain and the Soviet Union are co-chairmen of the Geneva conference. If they wish to do their duly they should first of all oblige the United Stales of America to cease its violation of the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
He was referring to the current incursion of the United States north of the 17th parallel. The report continues -
This is also the view of the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front. They demand that the United States of America withdraw all its armed forces and military installations from South Vietnam so as to allow the South Vietnamese people to settle their problems themselves.
That means that apparently the Chinese, speaking from Peking, are not willing to return to the Geneva Agreement of 1954. All they propose to do is to say “Yankees go home “, and to leave the armed forces of the Vietcong in South Vietnam so they may settle the differences that exist in that country and take control of it.
That leads me inevitably to Senator Cohen’s statement that Australia should take some primacy in trying to solve this problem. The question I ask myself is this: Who controls North Vietnam? Who in North Vietnam is responsive to pressure and could persuade that country to come back to the Geneva conference table? Has Ho Chi Minh become a puppet for Russia or is he a puppet of Peking? Which of these two great imperial Communist powers is the one able to exert pressure on Ho Ghi Minh, the Premier of North Vietnam? It seems to me that in this context it is not possible to get any kind of accord with North Vietnam, because I do not believe that country has the capacity to come to an agreement. It has to be subservient to the People’s Republic of China or it has to retain an obligation it once apparently was under to the Soviet Republics. When honorable senators speak of signing treaties, having accord or establishing international communion with the people of North Vietnam, they should ask themselves: “ With whom are we to establish this communion? Who are the people to guarantee that in future North Vietnam will honour any peace treaty and will not repeat what it has been doing since 1954?” Is it the People’s Republic of China which will give the guarantee, or is it the Soviet Republics? How are we to obtain a guarantee that North Vietnam in the future - if it happens that an agreement is entered into with that country - will not break that agreement as it has been doing since 1 957?
North Vietnam has broken its agreement with Laos. I say that because Senator Cavanagh said last Thursday - and Senator Cohen has suggested the same thing - that
South Vietnam attracted the Communist incursion only because it allowed the Americans to enter that country. Clearly this is incorrect because although the Americans are not in Laos, North Vietnam has invaded and occcupied substantial areas of Northern Laos. Therefore, as the Americans are not in Laos, it indicates that the expansion of Communist imperialism is related, not to economic needs, but to power requirements. It seems to me that the focus of Communist power in South East Asia - at least on the surface - is Chinese at the moment.
I shall not say that I regard the situation in South Vietnam with equanimity. I have the same horror of the situation there as has any other senator. Senator Cohen in his speech raised two matters to which I wish to refer. These related to the South Vietnamese or general northern South East Asia problem. Senator Cohen said that we should provide a great deal more money to aid the social advancement of the people in that area. He mentioned that we give about half of one per cent, of our national income for this purpose, including contributions to Papua and New Guinea. It is an interesting proposition, but who is to administer this aid? A vast amount of aid is flowing into South East Asia from the United States of America, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and other nations. The United States has discovered that pouring in vast sums of money as aid does not necessarily provide a solution. We have reached the unfortunate stage that, notwithstanding the vast amounts of foreign aid that have been provided for the undeveloped countries, the situations in those countries are worse now than when foreign aid first began to flow to them. I do not believe that pumping money ad lib into these countries provides a solution. In this respect I shall deal with Indonesia in a moment.
The last point on South Vietnam in Senator Cohen’s speech with which I wish to deal concerns the use of non-lethal gas in that country. The oddity is that this riot gas - or tear gas - was supplied to the South Vietnamese Government, which is not only the de facto Government of South Vietnam, but is the de jure Government of South Vietnam - the legal Government. The Government of South Vietnam used the tear gas for the first time, I think, on 27th January, against its own people in circumstances which can be described at least as riotous. Iri other” words, the South Vietnamese Government regarded the situation as a civil problem, and used means which have become recognised, by the police of New South Wales, for example, who use tear gas at times when they feel they should not expose the lives of their men to danger.
Tear gas was used by the Government of South Vietnam and not by the Americans. Apparently it was requested by South Vietnam and was provided to the legal Government of that country which used it against its own people. I think that has to be said, because the use of the gas has been surrounded by reports containing a great deal of error. It was not brought to public attention until about seven or eight weeks after the gas had been used. At that time, the reporting of the incident apparently suited some of the agencies that lend themselves from time to time to dubious methods of communicating news of events six or seven week after they have happened.
I turn my attention now to Indonesia. I regard the problem in Indonesia at least as equal in seriousness to the problems that exist in South Vietnam; not in the sense that Indonesia is subject to the bloody conditions that exist in South Vietnam, but in the sense that Indonesia, by its erratic course of behaviour in the international sphere at present fills me with alarm for Australia. I fail to see that the economy of Indonesia has suffered because of lack of aid. The Americans have given Indonesia a great deal of aid. Australia has given aid. We have helped Indonesia in the field of education and have provided that country with such items as machinery and spare parts for which it has asked. Therefore I say that the reduction in the capacity of the Indonesian economy cannot be laid at the doors of Great Britain or the United States.
If there is a failure in the social hegemony of Indonesia - as there appears to be - no blame for this situation can fairly be attributed to us or to the United States. I believe that the instability of the Indonesian economy, which apparently exists at present, has nothing to do with the neo-. colonists, as the Indonesians describe us, or with the neo-imperialists, as they also, describe us. It is related to the situation inside Indonesia itself. The point was raised initially by Senator McKenna that we should negotiate a treaty with Indonesia’. Again I ask: With whom do we make a! treaty? ‘I cannot see that there is in Indonesia at present the kind of government that we normally regard as a government It is a government of one man, a man who has broken nearly ‘every international agreement he has subscribed to in the last 10 or 12 years. I fail to see how entering into a treaty with Indonesia will ensure that it will’ be solemnly observed, if the past record of that country in relation to treaties is any indicator.
Members of the Opposition who say that we should negotiate a treaty with Indonesia should consider whether the Indonesians wish to make a treaty with us. It takes two parties to make a treaty. I am doubtful whether Indonesia would enter into a treaty with Australia for the simple reason that the President of Indonesia conducts the external affairs of Indonesia in terms of power. He regards Australia as of no importance whatsoever because he operates in terms of power and his foreign policy, and foreign commitments are determined according to power. He acknowledges that Australia has no power. It is suggested that we should enter into commitments with Indonesia although that nation has not at any stage, it seems to me, indicated that it wants to enter into an arrangement with us. Indonesia despises Australia. This statement can be verified by at least a dozen members of this present Parliament who have been received by President Sukarno when he has been at pains to point out to them at some length that he regards Australia as of no importance. It takes two to make a treaty. I have taken up a little more time than I had expected to take. As a result of Senator Cohen’s statements, I have discussed the South Vietnam problem at greater length than I intended.
It is true that we have to live with the . people of Indonesia for the next 100 or 200 years. They are our nearest neighbours. But. what sort of neighbours will we have to live with for the next 25 years? Will Indonesia, during the next 25 years, be the Indonesia that we see now, .or will it be a nation of another quality altogether? Will it be a Communist nation? Will it be a Moslem theocratic nation? Will it be a nation at all?
Are the contradictions inherent in the Indonesia social organisation such that the whole Indonesian state, with a vast archipelago of 3,000 islands, will fall into a fragmented condition? As I asked in this Senate chamber some 12 years ago, is Communism the liquid grout of discipline that will fall into the cracks in the walls of the countries of South East Asia? Will a Communist government be the government of Indonesia in the next five years? What will happen when the present government of Indonesia - which is represented by one man and therefore depends upon the life of one man - changes? What sort of Indonesia can we expect when that man is no longer with us, or no longer lives in Indonesia and is no longer capable of keeping that country in its present state of curious disequilibrium or disequal equilibrium? What sort of society will then be the ruling society of Indonesia? This is a matter which fills me with the greatest of alarm.
I believe that the problem of South Vietnam is soluble, because there we are dealing - at least in the background - with people who are sophisticated and who calculate how far they should go before they risk the escalation of the war there. But whether we are dealing with Indonesia now or in the short term future, I cannot see us dealing with a sophisticated and calculating form of government. The attitude changes from day to day. But at least something is apparent. During the debate on the Gulf of Tonkin incident last year, I observed that it was perfectly clear te me that the President of Indonesia had made a re-assessment of the situation in South East Asia and had made up his mind that as Communist China was. going to be the dominant power in South East Asia he had better get alongside it while the going was good. There are all sorts of indications that that is so. Not the least of them is found in the statistics of the exports of rubber, tin and oil from Indonesia. There has been a marked increase in the volume of these stable products going to China from Indonesia.
I do not know what the end result will be in our relations with Indonesia. All I know is that at present the Indonesians do not have very much regard for us. They despise us as a power. I do not think we could make any treaty arrangement with Indonesia that would be worth making. I do not think that any extra money we could put into that country would enable it to overcome the difficult economic position in which it finds itself. The gross national product of Indonesia has increased, I think, by IS per cent, in the last 10 years or so, or since it obtained independence, and its population has risen in that time from 60 million to 100 million. There are factors in Indonesia which, it seems to me, can lead to disaster and it is this which fills me with great disquiet.
– Let me say at the outset that the document presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) - his first as Minister for External Affairs - covers some obvious subjects, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, and invites members of both Houses of the Parliament to examine any other subjects in which they are interested. I propose to comment on Senator Cormack’s interesting remarks on Indonesia and Vietnam, but before doing so I would like to make one comment on the Minister’s remarks on the question of nuclear power.
He argued that the great deterrent of nuclear power is best kept in the hands of a few people because if it gets into many hands it will become uncontrollable. In fact, the Minister argued, as did the late President Kennedy - I think President Johnston has also expressed himself on this - that it is desirable that the nuclear club be kept as small as possible. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) took the matter one step further. He advocated that China, which has taken unto itself nuclear power and, though uninvited, has joined the nuclear club, even though as a junior member, ought to be kicked out of the club by taking away its nuclear power.
It speaks volumes for the propaganda machine of the Liberal Party that such a suggested course becomes a virtue today, when advocated by the honorable member for Mackellar and by the Minister for External Affairs as spokesmen for the Government on these matters, because when we of the Australian Labour Party advocated this course as long as three years ago, saying that Australia ought to be taking the lead in the Pacific area and should make haste to get the acquiescence of other nations to declare it a nuclear free zone, we were said to be anti-American, unAustralian and pro-Communist. Honorable senators opposite used all the fluent phraseology which they are so adept at using when dealing with these very important matters at election times. The fact is that they are saying today precisely what we said three years ago. They are following what the General Assembly of the United Nations itself said when dealing with the question of South America. However belated is the conversion and whatever is the basis of it, the Government nevertheless is welcome to the non-nuclear club. It has finally seen what might happen in the Pacific area.
I turn now to Indonesia. I think that every one of the theses that Senator Cormack put forward on Indonesia is acceptable. He asked what sort of government Indonesia will have in the future. This is always a tantalising speculation when thinking of Indonesia. Because Indonesia is such a splendid and potentially wealthy country, and because the common person there is of such a lovable type, one is upset to think that that country has taken the course it has in fact taken. The attitude of the Australian Labour Party is that we should keep the door open, so that if there is any change of heart or any alteration of the present bewildering actions of Indonesia, we can take advantage of the opportunity then offered. If there are two nations on God’s earth that ought to be friendly and co-operating in every way they are Indonesia and Australia. As long as the earth continues to spin, the Indonesians will be our nearest neighbours.
The population of Indonesia will continue to increase. It is probably one of the most undeveloped countries in the world, although one of the richest. If the land was used properly, Indonesia would be one of the most under-populated areas in the world. The Indonesians do not need more land, but they need to put to better use the land which they already have. It would appear - I hope I am wrong in using this phrase - that over the last few years Australia has been on a collision course with Indonesia. Since 1950 I have been critical of this Government’s attitude towards Indonesia. I have criticised its brushing aside of Indonesia and of the fact that although we have been flying Prime Ministers and other minis ters to London every year, they have nothad time to call on Indonesia. I do not want to go into that matter again. In debating this statement, we should be informing ourselves about the clash of opinion on the situation that exists today. We discussed the background and the causes of it last August.
We want to be friendly with Indonesia. Australia and Indonesia should be trading with one another and making contacts. But because of the principles that we hold, because of hundreds of years of tradition, and because we know what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future if we drop those principles, we find that we must oppose Indonesia’s views on Malaysia. I do not agree with one of the points that was advanced by an Opposition speaker last week when he was dealing with the history of Indonesia. He compared its attitude towards Malaysia with its attitude towards West New Guinea. I have defended Indonesia over the question of West New Guinea because that was an understandable situation. There were differing views on whether Indonesia should take over West New Guinea. But to anybody who was in Indonesia during the relevant, years it was perfectly obvious that the move to take over West New Guinea was not a mere diversion to keep the minds of the. Indonesians from the deteriorating economy in their own country, although it must have had that effect. After speaking to people in many organisations, such as political parties, trade unions and law societies, I have no doubt that the idea of taking over West New Guinea was rooted deep in the heart of the Indonesian people. In simple terms, when Indonesia took over the Netherlands East Indies it was a perfectly reasonable proposition for the people to think that they were taking over the whole of the Netherlands East Indies and that there was not to be a part of the country held back. I do not want to go into the legalities of that situation. The legal situation at the time was that the Dutch could have been right, but the psychological point was that the Indonesians believed that West Irian should have become part of their country.
– That goes back a long time.
– Yes, and it must go back a long time. It is a part of history.
However, 1 do not want to dwell on this point. We can become a little glib when we are accusing people, but we ought to be sure of the grounds on which we accuse them. I suggest that there are two vastly different reasons for the opposition of the Indonesians to the Dutch and their opposition to Malaysia. 1 have said there was a common cause. I do not believe that all they were trying to do was to turn the eyes of the people away from the internal problems and to hold up a light so that the moths would fly around it.
On the question of West New Guinea it must be said in fairness that this Government did not oppose, at any stage, Indonesia becoming our next door neighbour in New Guinea. We said to the Indonesians that we were perfectly willing to have them there and that any arrangement they made would have to be made between the Dutch and themselves. The Government and the Australian Parliament never lifted its voice against the proposal. We welcomed the Indonesians and we trusted them. We want to see responsible behaviour from them in other parts of the world as well as in West New Guinea. We want to feel that we were right in allowing them to go to that area without any opposition from us.
Indonesia today faces a great challenge. This is a matter with which Senator Cormack was dealing without actually saying so. It is a young country which is trying to develop in a period of turmoil and struggle. Its leaders went to gaol for many years because of their views, but they took advantage of the war years and of the Japanese occupation finally to get control. Indonesia is a wealthy country, but it is a country that has many difficulties because of its lack of education and because the many islands which comprise it are so scattered. Nevertheless, its leaders have a great challenge to show that they are capable of running their own country and of giving the Indonesian people a better standard of living than they had under the Dutch. Yet they are not doing this. The great pity is that the challenge is going unheeded. The leaders have not turned their attention to such matters as health and nutrition, which are matters with which a young country should be dealing. They are not taking the opportunity as Asians to build up a stable country in the midst of the Asian scene. Rather, they have been caught up in outside interests and the campaign to crush Malaysia.
We hope that the Indonesians will attain nationhood and be worthy of it. But instead of working towards this end, we see them closing the American picture industry in Djakarta, cutting off the gas to businesses owned by United States interests, taking control of oil refineries, allowing hooligans to break up the United States information centres, and finally withdrawing from the United Nations Organisation. We must say that these are not the actions of a responsible government. This is not good national or international behaviour. It is a constant worry to other countries. Actions such as these would have brought about a break in diplomatic relations 100 years ago.
Because of what has happened with countries like Russia and America, which have learned to live together over the last 20 years, we hope that in this day and age, no matter how bad things are, we will be able to drag Indonesia and Malaysia back from the brink of war and towards a better future. I must say in fairness that T do not admire people such as the group of young Australians who, when the Indonesian Ambassador was about to speak to them recently, threw papers at him and yelled and behaved with not much more control than the Indonesian mobs who stormed the’ American embassy. If we invite a person, particularly a representative of another country, to a gathering, in common decency and courtesy we should listen to him.
– There was not the violence which occurred in Indonesia.
– I did not suggest that there was violence. The honorable senator is putting words into my mouth. I am merely saying that in a country where there is education, a group of people should not take such a course. I express my disapproval of it. I think that they should be a little more adult. I can remember when people criticised wharf lumpers and said that they should not be taking the control of international affairs out of the hands of the Australian Government. This was perilously close to that. Not for one minute am I suggesting that it was of the same violence. When we have this tender situation between nations, all people of responsibility ought to be doubly sure that they do not exacerbate a situation which is already bad.
I have only one or two comments to make before I turn to Vietnam. Malaysia is a nation that has a great challenge before it. As I understand it, we have said that it should be allowed to face this challenge in its own way, electing its own governments. We have Australian troops in Malaysia. Their presence there is supported by this Parliament. To avoid exacerbating the position and to hold the situation as long as we possibly can, Australian troops ought not to be used on the peninsula to round up such people as paratroops. As I understood the position, troops from Australia and other nations were in that country for emergencies, to be used when absolutely necessary. Surely it is not necessary to use foreign troops to round up a dozen, 20, 30, 50, 60 or 70 paratroops. This is nothing more nor less than a fairly severe police action. There may be good reasons for the Government’s action in this regard. There may be good reasons why the military personnel of this country should be used, but it seems to be unnecessary. This Government is still giving aid to Indonesia and this action is supported by the Australian Labour Party. In those circumstances, it seems to me to be in some way a contradiction to let our troops be used ‘ before this is absolutely necessary. 1 have referred to the relationship between Indonesian and Australia and have said that we ought to be getting together. These things could be said equally about Indonesia and Malaysia. Here are two Asian nations with a fair amount of cross trade. A lot of development is needed in both countries. Everything we say about relations between Australia and Indonesia we could say, with interest, about Malaysia and Indonesia. Senator Cormack suggested that we did not know what sort of a government Indonesia would have, whether there would be a government in that country, or even whether Indonesia would be a nation in years to come. We must try to get some common sense into the area. We must realise the tremendous force that Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia possess and use it for the development of the region, which is very wealthy, and for the advancement of the people. We could achieve a tremendous amount of good in the next few years. We must do this rather than waste time and energy, sparring around and watching one another from day to day.
I turn now to the urgent, immediate problems of Vietnam. I do not want to go over the matters that we dealt with last August. Most of us then dealt with the background to Vietnam, and how its problems had come about. Because of what has happened there in the past few weeks, it behoves us to deal now with the urgentsituation that exists today. Senator Cormack made some very interesting remarks in criticism of Senator Cavanagh on the question of Communism. Senator Cavanagh spoke of starvation. Senator Cormack made the point that the Communists had made their gains largely as a result not of starvation but of bringing in military force. I suggest to Senator Cormack that he is liable to fall into the old error of drawing all things sharply in” black and white instead of in varying degrees of grey.
Listening at various times to our opponents, one would think that the trade union movement was the harbour of Communists throughout the world, and that it was there that all the damage was being done. But looking at the Communists who are serving gaol sentences or who have, in some cases, gone to the electric chair, we find such names as Doctor Nunn May, Dr. Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, and Horatio Alger Hiss, who were very far removed from the area where the propaganda machine seems to suggest the danger lies. It is quite silly to deal with Communism by saying it is in this particular area or that particular area, because it is a very capable international organisation and it will naturally flow on to all the levels and into all the cracks where it can possibly move.
I agree with Senator Cormack that nobody in this nation has any monopoly of the concern we feel about the . situation in Vietnam. Australians have a dual worry, because everybody knows that no matter how small any war might be it carries within itself a tremendous potential for. expansion. Like a bushfire out of control, it can attack onlookers as well as critics, and engulf the. world in an incredibly short space of time. Through the Vietnam war, the pressure has shifted from Europe to
Asia. Australians know the geographic situation. We know that this war can quickly affect areas which are vital to us. Perhaps as Australians we appreciate more than do people of the old world the difficulties of the Asian area. Nobody has a monopoly of worry or anxiety, and nobody has the complete answer beyond knowing that somehow, somewhere, this war has to end. I think that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) had this kind of thing in mind when he prefaced his remarks with the word “ personally “. He said that Australia was fighting for its very survival. I thought then that if somebody was sub-editing that speech, that would be the heading rather than being tucked away in a paragraph. We have seen this war, one might almost say, meandering along over a fairly long period. We have seen attack from the north, sabotage, anti-personnel bombs in Saigon, and terrorism. We have seen the holding war, with the Americans and their allies trying to contain the situation. The war has been difficult to define from day to day.
– Including the religious by-play.
– I was about to say that there were side issues and byplays and contradictions. At the moment we see North Vietnam, standing like a customs officer, taking a toll on the petrol going through to the American forces. This would have been unbelievable in the wars to which we have been used and in which Australian forces have fought. That is the type of thing going on at present. The religious by-play, to which Senator Hannaford referred, “has not been on clear lines as between north and south. It has produced all sorts of strange and stupid situations in the south.
We could talk about things of this type for weeks and probably not get very far. The only certain thing is that out of this hodge-podge the situation for America and its allies - Australia has some troops there - has been deteriorating. It has deteriorated because following the exhortation of Mao Tse-tung, the Communist guerrillas have lived like the fish in the sea, striking and moving back. The change that has taken place has been of same order. We all know about these things. We are fighting amongst a war Weary, innocent people. lt is a type of war in which the bystanders suffer at least as much as, and probably very much more than, the soldiers themselves. The deteriorating situation brought the suggestion that America was about to leave the continent altogether; that she intended to surrender the people of South Vietnam whom she had gone in to defend; that she intended to take up her swag and move off.
While we had this situation and while the north was winning the fight, it was impossible to talk about negotiation. Quite frankly, and speaking personally, 1 could never understand how anyone could give any credence to the suggestion that America would pull out of this region. If you read carefully the many statements that have been made by people such as Dean Rusk and the Presidents of the United States of America, but particularly Dean Rusk, you will see that never at any time has there been a real suggestion that there should be an American withdrawal from the continent. It is true that many columnists in America - there seem to be myriads of them and they contradict themselves from day to day - say that there will be a withdrawal, but never, so far as I have been able to learn, has there been such a suggestion by any authority. In a situation such as this, particularly if you consider the -events just before and just after the last war, surrender and appeasement are completely impossible and unthinkable.
The prospect of the war escalating - that is a new word which has come into the phraseology of war - has been raised. It- is said that the action that the Americans are taking now could bring Communist China, a very powerful nation, into the war on the side of the Hanoi Government - that this would result in the war spreading and goodness only knows where it would stop. But there was no guarantee - I have never seen this aspect canvassed very widely - that if the situation in Vietnam were allowed to deteriorate very much further, particularly in view of the unstable political setup there, Communist China would not come in for the final push, possibly on the pretext of forestalling an advance which was threatening its own borders. If Communist China did come into the war, we could expect more air and naval action from th American Fleet, which is not very far away.-
This is a danger, but there is no doubt that there was danger in the other situation.
There has been a lot of talk about bombing and the types of bombs that have been used. I do not believe that any human being can think of bombing, particularly with napalm and similar materials which burn people, without being completely horrified. But it is interesting to recall that napalm has been used for some years in this area, mainly, as has been explained to me, to destroy forests and similar places of hiding so as to deny them to the enemy. Only recently has a non-lethal gas been used. I know my reaction to the bombing of London and other cities during the last war. 1 know also how 1 would feel if I were a simple villager, and overnight I found my village surrounded and certain of my friends picked out to be shot. I have found myself coming back to the conclusion that all war is hell and that the only way to get out of this particular hell is to find a way to stop the war in this part of the world. 1 am afraid that the longer it goes on the more horrible and the more terrible it will be. The final danger that I see is that nuclear bombs will be used. I cannot imagine any nation which, being beaten in a war with conventional weapons and possessing the nuclear bomb, will not bounce off the ropes and throw that final punch.
This war, like all disputes, must end some day. It has to end in one of two ways, either in a surrender or in negotiation. Whether negotiation is imminent or whether we have not yet reached that stage, at some time and at some place it will come about. Because of America’s actions over the last few weeks, the mind of the whole world has been turned towards this situation. It is completely impossible to talk about negotiation if you are losing a war, as I believe the allies were until a few weeks ago. There were suggestions that they would pull out because the enemy was winning. Why should the enemy negotiate if he feels that achievement of his aim to liberate South Vietnam, to use his term, is just around the corner? In those circumstances the enemy certainly would not negotiate. On the other hand, you will not get the Americans to the negotiating table unless they feel that they will have some chance of success there. No-one wants to go to the negotiating table, raise the hopes of every individual who is thinking about a new world and then have to scuttle the talks and walk away.
This could be a psychological defeat for one or the other. It could bring tremendous despondency and despair to people in the area who believed that at long last they would get away from war. First, the north has to be convinced that it cannot win - a reversal of the attitude it appears to have adopted for some time - or, if it can win, that it cannot win for a long time and that the cost will not be worth it. Then the allies have to be convinced that when they come to the negotiating table there is a chance of success and that hostilities and attacks will cease, that we will get something like the 1954 Accord and that we will be able to say that this time it will work.
I do not think that any agreement could be made to work unless the border, whether it were at the 17th Parallel or somewhere else - I do not imagine it would be anywhere else, because you would not want to surrender something you so carefully went into in 1954 - was policed. Although Senator Cormack criticised the power of the United Nations to do this kind of thing - I know that events in the Congo do not give one great hope and heart - I suggest that it would be very much better if this kind o£ policing were done by the many rather than by the few, and certainly rather than by individuals. You have to be satisfied that this is possible, that there will be justice, that there will not be any more attacks and that on this occasion the terms of the agreement will be honoured.
When we think of bringing this terrible and vicious war to an end, we must remember that the Vietnamese people themselves - the people we must never forget in all this - are war weary and confused. Most of them have been in and out of wars for many years. I suppose some of them were born during wars and are now fighting in the armies. Often families have sons in the armed forces on both sides. They do not know which side will bomb their village, and they do not care very much whom they blame, because it is very hard to become interested in either side when you see governments collapsing around you, when you do not know where to get a lead, when you are hoping and praying, as you hear bombers overhead, that they are not heading for your village, when you are hoping that one of your sons is not fighting another. The war weariness of the Vietnamese people is something that hardly bears thinking about. Observers throughout the world - people like ourselves - naturally are most apprehensive that if this war goes on very much longer a spark could cause a great conflagration in which we could all be involved. This could happen at any time. In spite of all these things, peace must be kept in South East Asia so that other nations of the world may be given a chance finally to turn their eyes from the wars raging around them and so that they can devote their attention to developing their countries in their own way.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put t he question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 March 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650330_senate_25_s28/>.