26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuilin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has he seen remarks attributed to Mr J. S. Baker, General Secretary of the Postal Clerks and Telegraphists Union, at an automation seminar in Sydney last weekend claiming that a survey of the effects of automation on the health of postal telegraphists had been delayed for 2 years? Can he say when this report will be available for public perusal?
– 1 have not seen the report but I shall ask the Minister whether there is a report and, if there is one, what stage it has reached.
– Has the
Minister representing the Minister for the Interior seen Press’ reports concerning the removal of war dead from Egypt? ls it a fact that the United Arab Republic has demanded that two cemeteries containing Commonwealth graves in Alexandria be removed to make way for a building project? Was not the security of these sites secured by treaties between the United Arab Republic and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission? Can the Minister say what action the Commonwealth is contemplating in this matter?
– For a number of years the Alexandria municipality has been seeking the removal of Commonwealth war graves at Alexandria, along with large civilian cemeteries, to make room for an urban development scheme. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission as representative of the Commonwealth countries concerned has been negotiating with the United Arab Republic authorities to ensure that nothing is done unilaterally which would impair the dignity of the cemeteries or offend against existing agreements. These negotiations are continuing. There was no ultimation from the UAR Government for the removal of the graves by August. The UAR authorities have only asked the members concerned to look at possible new sites in the El Alamein area and this request is no doubt the origin of current reports. The Returned Services League is aware of these developments.
(Question No. 269)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
As at 26th July 1967:
– I present the following paper:
Science and Industry Research Act - Nineteenth Annual Report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for year 1966-67- and ask for leave to make a short statement in connection with it.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This report is presented on the occasion of the fiftieth year of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the colour of the report, I think, has something to do with a golden jubilee. As honourable senators will notice, an attempt has been made to make this report more readable than has been the case in the past. A number of scientific papers have been omitted, colour photography has been used and in general there has been an attempt to make the document far more informative and attractive to honourable senators and the general public.
I should like to indicate (o the Senate the names of certain people who are to be specifically commended for the work they have done in relation to the colour photography and the typographical layout of the report. They are Mr A. K. Klingender who was responsible for the writing and concept of the report, Mr R. R. Ingpen who was responsible for the layout and design, Mr T. R. Hunter who was responsible for printing. Mr J. D. Chamberlain who was responsible for printing and for photographic reproductions, and Mr R. G. Judd who also was responsible for photographic reproductions. I commend the report to this Senate.
– 1 move:
That the Senate take note of the paper - and ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - The following is the text of a statement now being presented in the House of Representatives by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) whom I represent in this place:
I have the honour to inform the House that, the Government has decided to limit appeals to the Privy Council from the High Court of Australia. As honourable members are aware, at present appeals may be taken from the High Court - other than inter se matters, that is to say, matters concerning the line of demarcation between Federal and State powers - by special leave of the Privy Council. The Privy Council has, in fact, granted special leave in some 44 cases over the last 21 years.
Power to limit the matters in which special leave may be granted by the Privy Council is conferred on the Commonwealth Parliament by section 74 of the Constitution. The Government is of the opinion that this power should be exercised so as to make the High Court the final arbiter in all matters of Federal jurisdiction, that is to say, constitutional questions, matters arising under Commonwealth laws and the various other matters which the Constitution has, in sections 75 and 76, specifically recognised as being appropriate matters to be brought in the High Court.
On behalf of the Government, I would like to express appreciation of the learning and wisdom which members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council have brought to the consideration of appeals from the High Court since federation. Many notable contributions to the working of our Federal Constitution have been made by their judgments. Moreover, I believe their Lordships’ dignified yet penetrating approach to cases has had a considerable influence upon our own approach to appellate work in Australia.
In reaching its decision to limit appeals, the Government has taken account of the growing body of opinion, both in the legal profession and amongst the people generally, that the stage has been reached when steps should be taken towards making the High Court the final court of appeal for Australia. This, the Government believes, is consistent with the growth of Australia as an independent nation. It has for many years been recognised that each member of the Commonwealth is free to decide whether it wishes to discontinue appeals to the Privy Council. Several Commonwealth countries, including Canada, India and Pakistan have abolished the appeal altogether. The countries that retain it do so with differing limitations. Some smaller countries retain the appeal because, in their present state of development, they would have difficulty in providing a court of appeal of sufficient calibre from within their own resources. However, the High Court of Australia enjoys a status equal to that of any other court in the English speaking world. Its decisions have great persuasive influence in all countries that have the common law tradition; its members are now also members of the Privy Council and some of them have sat as members of the Privy Council on the hearing of appeals from other countries.
The step the Government now proposes to take is a logical first step towards making the High Court the final court of appeal for Australia. The possibility of there being an appeal to the Privy Council from the High Court in an inter se matter will remain, as a constitutional amendment would be necessary to remove this possibility. However, an appeal in an inter se matter can reach the Privy Council only if the High Court gives its certificate, and the High Court has not given such a certificate since 19J2. The possibility of the Privy Council giving special leave to appeal from the High Court in non-Federal matters will also remain. Appeals to the Privy Council from State supreme courts in purely State matters will be unaffected at this stage. The question of the abolition of such appeals is a matter for the States. The Government believes that its proposal to limit appeals from the High Court in Federal matters will be welcomed by honourable members and by both the legal profession and the Australian people generally. I move:
– rOn behalf of the Opposition I welcome the statement that has been made by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton). The existence of appeals to the Privy Council is inconsistent with the dignity and the independence of this country. It is wrong that any country should have as the final arbiter of its laws a body the members of which are not elected by, not appointed by and not in any way responsible to those for whom it is making the most profound judicial decisions. We in the Australian Labor Party have held t as an important tenet of our platform that all such appeals to the Privy Council should be abolished and it is a most important step towards the international independence of this country that appeals to the Privy Council, at least at the Federal level, should be abolished. It is a disgrace that appeals should still continue from the constituent States of Australia and I hope that the States will be galvanised into taking action also to remove this blot on their independence, this vestige of their colonialism.
We ought to be like all other independent nations with all of the arms of government inside the country elected or appointed by and responsible to the citizens of their own communities. It is a disgrace that we have suffered this for as long as we have done. We welcome the action of the Government in paying heed to the pleas for’ abolition of these appeals which have been made by this Party, some of them in this chamber by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen), by Senator Toohey from the State of South Australia and by other Opposition senators, including myself. I ask for leave to continue my remarks al. a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed:
That orders of the day Nos. 1 and 2, Business of the Senate, be postponed until the nest day of sitting.
– Mr President, the first order of the day is a motion for the disallowance of the Trade Practices Regulations. What I have to say has been communicated to the Government and is an elaboration of what I said earlier: If the Regulations were withdrawn and new regulations introduced omitting the exemption of the Australian Canners Association, the Opposition would not object to those regulations. Therefore it would not be necessary to persist with the motion for disallowance which is now before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 5 September (vide page 515), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr President, many of the issues relating to this Bill were debated rather extensively during the debate on a resolution introduced into this, chamber some days ago by Senator McManus of the Democratic Labor Party. On that occasion the Australian Labor Party made its position quite clear. There is not a great deal which needs to be added in the discussion of this Bill, which has been introduced as a result of pressure applied to the Government by the Democratic Labor Party. The Opposition, the Australian Labor Party, accepts the principle set out in the Bill; that is, that no material aid should be given to any persons or organisations that are engaged in armed conflict with Australian forces and that steps should be taken to prevent such aid being given. However, while the Australian Labor Party accepts this principle, and supports the Bill, and while at the same time it dissociates itself from those organisations which are endeavouring to provide some material aid to forces with whom Australian troops are in conflict’, it believes that there are still some things which should, be said about this Bill.
Firstly, we propose to move one amendment during the Committee stage of the Bill. This amendment relates to clause 6. It’s purpose will be that any person accused under this clause shall have the right to trial by jury. We believe that offences of this nature are of such importance that it is improper that they be dealt with summarily. If the Government regards these matters as being serious - and I suppose most people do regard them as being very serious - then, indeed, they are matters which should be dealt with by a judge and jury and the accused person should have all the protection which is available under the common law. This argument has been used during previous debates when it has been said .that a matter in question was so serious that it should be dealt with summarily. It is the view of the party i represent, and I think it is the view of anybody who respects the traditions of the common law, that the more serious an offence is, the greater the protection which should be given to an accused person. For that reason we shall be moving an appropriate amendment when the relevant clause is dealt with by the Committee.
There are some comments I would like to make on the nature of this Bill. There is no question that the Bill has been introduced by the Government solely as a result of pressure applied to it by the Democratic Labor Party and some other organisations. The Government is well aware that it would be quite simple for it to have stopped the aid which is being given, apparently, by these Labor Clubs. I repeat that these clubs have no association with the Labor Party despite their use of the word ‘Labor’ in their title. There is no copyright in the word Labor’. It would have been quite simple for the Government to have prevented this aid being given by taking administrative action. By issuing appropriate instructions through the Treasury successful efforts could have been made to stop the transfer of funds to any of these organisations or parties which the people of these different university Labor Clubs apparently are trying to assist. There can be no question about the fact that the introduction of this Bill is a result of the Government’s ambition to find some political gimmick in the mistaken hope that it will be able to embarrass the Australian Labor Party and that vast and growing section of the Australian community who are opposed to Australia’s commitment to the unwinnable war in Vietnam.
I repeat that in the present circumstances the Australian Labor Party is opposed to Australia’s commitment in Vietnam; we are not flagging in our determination to oppose this commitment until such time as the provisions laid down by the Australian Labor Party at its last Federal conference are met. Despite the fact that we are opposed to Australia’s commitment in Vietnam, we are not prepared to be a party to any material assistance being given to any person or organisation which is using resources provided from Australia to injure Australian conscripts who are being sent to Vietnam. Although it has been mentioned several times it may be said in passing - I believe this exposes the hypocrisy of the Government - that at the very time that the Government is going to the trouble of introducing this very draconic measure which is intended to deal with very small sums of money provided by small groups of youthful enthusiasts throughout Australia it is doing as much as it can to provide military material to the people who are described as the enemies of Australia.
– Senator Webster says that is rubbish, that no aid is being provided by the Government to the enemies of Australia. I would like the honourable senator to analyse the statement that he has made. When I refer to the enemies of Australia,I refer specifically to Communist China. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that when the Government talks about wheat and wool sales it talks about mainland China but when it talks about the war in Vietnam it talks about Communist China. If it is rubbish to say that the Government is providing assistance to the enemies of Australia, then there are only two things that can be said: Either Australia is not providing material to China - we know Australia is providing material to China - or alternatively China is not an enemy of Australia. 1 would like to know what Senator Webster’s position is. Do he and his friends on the opposite side of the chamber say that no material which may be used by the Chinese is being provided to them? I fail to sec how they can. say that, because we all are well aware that extensive wheat and wool sales are being made to China. We know also that during the past year over $4m worth of steel, which was of tremendous assistance to the Chinese steel industry, was provided to that country through the actions of this Government in order to benefit the people who provide the financial wherewithal for the Government parties. We all know that. The only other construction we can put on Senator Webster’s interjection is that China is not an enemy of Australia.
I would not dispute that proposition; I see no reason to claim that China is an enemy of Australia. But if Senator Webster says that China is not an enemy of Australia then I would be interested to hear from him and his colleagues in the Australian Country Party or the Liberal Party a repudiation of the propaganda which was issued by his Party and the Liberal Party at the time of the last Federal election. I can well remember being in the Northern Territory at the time of the last Federal election, when material was produced by the Country Party in support of its candidate and against the Australian Labor Party candidate in the Territory. Every pamphlet that I saw produced by the Country Party stated that it was essential to return a Country Party candidate as the representative of the Northern Territory in order to withstand the menace from the north. The pamphlets showed a very badly drawn map.I do not think it would, have been passed in a first form geography examination, but it passed the scrutiny of the secretary of the Country Party. The map was of China and from it were shown red arrows going in all directions towards Australia. The text on the pamphlet pointed out that China is the great menaceto Australia.
Apparently we can now learn from Senator Webster - all aglow because of the deal recently made with his reluctant, bedfellows in the Liberal Party and delighted with the situation which is to result from this marriage of inconvenience which has taken place in Victoria - that he no longer regards China as an enemy; that he now believes that China is not an enemy. If Senator Webster and his friends do not think that China is our enemy, some other important conclusions are to be drawn. First I would ask the Government why it is that when its supporters discuss the war in Vietnam in which Australia has become involved, we continually hear quotations of the words of Mao Tse-tung. We hear that Mao Tse-tung has said that power grows out of the barrel of a gun, or whatever it was that he said; and that he said: ‘We are going to conquer the whole world. We are sweeping down towards Australia’.
– Did he say that?
– If Senator Sim disagrees he ought to take the matter up privately with Senator Webster at the next party meeting and they may then sort it out between them. It is not my task to pour oil on the very troubled waters in which the Liberal Party and the Country Party are at present slowly sinking. Insofar as I have been able to understand the propaganda of the Government, the reason we are involved in the war in Vietnam is the downward thrust of the Communist menace coming from China itself.
I must pay a grudging tribute to my friends Senator Gair and Senator McManus. It is not often that I do this. They are irrational, but they are consistent in their irrationality, whereas the Government
Parties are inconsistent in their irrationality. When Senator Gair and Senator McManus have referred to the menace of China they have been quite consistent. They do not want us merely to talk about it. They want dim-sims taken oft! the menu. They want- everything taken right through to a logical conclusion. But Government supporters want it both ways. They say that we arc involved in the war in Vietnam in order to stop the downward thrust of Chinese Communism, but at the same time they say that it is quite in order for supporters of the Government to make very large sums of money from trading with China.
I understand from a statement made by Mr Hasluck in another place that behind Ho Chi Minh stands Mao Tse-tung. 1 have been told repeatedly, over and over again, that behind what is happening in Asia stands the menace of Peking. If that is true, it remains completely inconceivable to me that the Government can engage in extensive trading with a country which has been described as our enemy. It has often been said that we should go all the way with LB J. It is interesting to look at the policy of the United States of America in regard to the giving of material aid to any of the Communist countries. It is very significant that at present a number of organisations inside the United States are collecting money to send to the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. The United States Administration has not interfered with those actions by any law. No doubt, the United States Administration frowns on the practice, but in fact the transference of moneys collected in that way - the minuscule aid - by groups in the United States of America who wanted to give assistance to the National Liberation Front, has recently been prevented by some actions which have taken place in Canada. The transference of funds from Canada to the National Liberation Front, has recently been prevented by administrative actions of the United States Administration, but no Act of Congress has been passed to prohibit it. Anybody engaging in the collection of funds in the United States for the National Liberation Front is not guilty of the type of offence set out in the Defence Force Protection Bill. That is a remarkable title. We are now going to protect the defence forces. There is no pro vision of this type inside the United States of America. However much I deplore the foreign policy of the United States Administration, at least I must admit that it is consistent in this matter in that it does prevent the sort of trade with China that this Government of ours is allowing to take place. Whatever may be said of the policy of the United States of America at least that country is honest on this issue. If it does say that behind the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese stands Communist China, then at least it follows it through and does not allow the wealthy supporters of the United States Administration or the wheat farmers or the wool farmers or the textile manufacturers to make money out of trading with China. At least one can respect the principles for which the United States stands even though one may disagree with them. But we cannot have anything but contempt for a government which says on the one hand that there is a threat from China-
– There is not.
– I respect the honourable senator’s point of view. He should join us .on this side of the Senate. I am glad to see this sign of rebellion in an honourable senator who hitherto has been most docile. I have no doubt that if he went to the United States of America he would dispute the action of the United States Administration in preventing these exports to China. No doubt he would say that the American Government’s action in not allowing its citizens to export wheat, wool and steel to China is intolerable. I have no doubt that Senator Webster would regard that as a most, arbitrary action on the part of the United States Government and would deplore this anti-Liberal approach to trade with that country.
– What is the honourable senator’s view on trade with China?
- Senator Webster will have an opportunity to speak to an empty chamber later. If China is not our enemy inside Vietnam, if in fact what we are doing inside Vietnam is not fighting against some international conspiracy directed from Peking, then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that there is’ a civil war inside Vietnam. Either there is an invasion, in one form or another, of Vietnam by the Chinese, or there is a civil war inside Vietnam. If there is an invasion by the Chinese then the only way to support our troops there is to prevent all trade with China. We are told that is the country which is directing what is happening inside Vietnam. I gather that Senator Webster believes that it is a civil war and the Chinese people are not part of it. I can see that Senator Sim is going to take this matter up with Senator Webster outside the chamber later. If all that is taking place is a civil war, then I think we have to ask what we are doing there at all.
– I was trying to get the honourable senator’s view on trade with China.
– This exposes the complete hypocrisy of the Government. We have heard the argument that only steel foil and steel plate are being sent there. The Government says that only 2% of the total supply of steel is being provided by Australia and that if we do not send it somebody else will. Here Senator Webster is getting more and more complicated.
– The honourable senator is getting further away from his point.
– Whatever it is, he is all very emotional and very disturbed. If Senator Webster wants to pursue the argument that it is only some sort of steel plate that is being sold-
– You tell us what it is.
– If you ure going to carry on-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! I ask Senator Wheeldon to address his remarks to the Chair.
– I am finding it rather difficult, Mr Deputy President. If I may say so, it is rather difficult to carry on a Gilbert and Sullivan duet.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– I rise to order. I always understood that when the occupant of the chair rose to his feet every other senator had to be seated.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - What Senator Mattner says is right. I hope that in future all honourable senators will follow that procedure. I call Senator Wheeldon.
– I beg your pardon, Mr Deputy President, for that unintentional act of disrespect. We a;e faced with this position with regard to Vietnam: Either there is civil war or there is not a civil war. If there is a civil war we have no business being inside the country. If there is not a civil war the only party that can be invading Vietnam and causing the fighting inside that country is China. It follows that, if China is the country that is responsible for what is taking place inside Vietnam, China is our enemy. In that event it is an act tantamount to treason for anybody to provide materials to China for use against the Australian troops inside Vietnam. The position is as clear as that.
It is said that only steel plate is being sent to China and that the commodities being sent cannot be used to make weapons of war such as bullets or guns. That is a most spurious and most specious argument. There is only a limited steel industry inside China and whatever steel is sent to that country relieves the pressure on the Chinese steel industry and enables it to produce more of the sort of steel it requires for making weapons of war, including those weapons which China undoubtedly, to some extent, is providing to the North Vietnamese regular troops and the National Liberation Front.
What the Government is engaging in is merely a political gimmick. The aid that is being given by the various groups, such as university Labor clubs and other .organisations that are taking up these collections, is a drop in the ocean. It is deplorable, but it is a drop in the ocean. The real aid that is being given to China or the Communist powers in South East Asia is that which is being given, by this Government itself in complete contradistinction to what is being done by the Government of the United States. Members of the Government parties talk about going all the way with LBJ. If they want to go all the way with LBJ, why do they not go all the way with the LBJ trade policies and place an embargo on trade with China? The answer is quite simple. It is that there is some money in it for them. It is a question of dollars and cents. That is the reason why they are sending steel, wheat and wool to China. It is putting some money into their pockets. The people who are prepared to conscript young Australians to fight in Vietnam on the basis that the Australians are in Vietnam to fight against the menace of Chinese imperialism are prepared to have Australians killed as a result of the action of this Government in allowing Australian trade with a country that they have described as an enemy. Nothing could be more hypocritical. Nothing could be more shameful. Nothing could disclose more the moral degeneracy of a government.
I do not agree with members of the Democratic Labor Party on many matters, but at least they have not been hypocritical on this matter. They are in favour of the war and they are against the trade. That is a position that I can understand. But I cannot understand somebody saying that he is in favour of the war and also in favour of the trade. That is an attitude which completely baffles me and which I am unable to understand, except from the point of view of complete political chicanery and of using this war in order to discredit the Opposition while at the same time allowing Government supporters to make money from it. The argument has been used that if we do not trade with China somebody else will-
– I rise to order. I object to the words ‘political chicanery’. I ask that they be withdrawn.
– I wish to speak on the point of order, Mr Deputy President. This is a very mild expression compared with those that were used by honourable senators opposite last Thursday night. Members of the Government parties are becoming accustomed to using expressions far richer than this one. I ask you not to rule that this is an unparliamentary expression.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– Tell us how we compare in volume of trade.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Webster will come to order.
- Senator Webster has raised a very profound point about the volume of trade. As I understand it, his point is that there is not very much trade going on so it does not really matter. We are sending only $4m worth of steel and Only a certain amount of wheat and a certain amount of wool. After all, there will probably be only a few soldiers killed by this steel. Not a whole contingent will be wiped out, but only some of them, so why should we be worried about that? As I understand it, that is Senator Webster’s point. Probably only a company or two will be killed by the Chinese bullets and not all our troops, so why should we be concerning ourselves? That is Senator Webster’s position. We have heard these arguments before.
We have heard it said that if we do not trade with China, someone else will. Is it seriously suggested that if the Monash University Labor Club does not send a few dollars to the National Liberation Front, somebody else will? Is it seriously suggested that if there is this vast Communist conspiracy embracing China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, Albania and Yugoslavia, all these countries will meet together in some secret conclave and will say: ‘We have run out of money; that $34 from the Monash University Labor Club has not turned up. We have not enough to send to them.’ Is that what Senator Webster is saying? Of course it is true that if this steel did not come from Australia it would come from somewhere else; of course it is true that if the wheat did not come from Australia it would come from somewhere else; of course it is true that if the wool did not come from Australia it would come from somewhere else; and of course it is true that if the donations from members of the Monash University Labor Club did not come from that club they would come from somewhere else.
– Does the honourable senator think they should be permitted?
– That is not the point. The point is that we have been told that it is treasonable to send material of this nature to these countries, that it is treasonable when a group of students raises money to send to them but it is not treasonable for Senator McKellar and his friends to make enormous sums of money from sending vast quantities of strategic materials to the enemy.
– Does the honourable senator not agree that it is treasonable?
– They are both equally treasonable. The Government’s action is just as treasonable.
– I agree completely with what Senator Turnbull has just said, that if we are engaged in a war with China both actions are equally treasonable. But one small thing that can be said in favour of the Monash University Labor Club is that it is not sending other people off to Vietnam to be killed whereas the Government is. At the same time as the Government is sending people to Vietnam to be killed it is also sending the resources with which they shall be killed. That is the crux of this issue. We say that there are certain persons and organisations within Australia who are collecting money and, apparently, sending it to the National Liberation Front. Exceptions are made in the case of those people who are giving some sort of help through the Australian Red Cross Society and other benevolent organisations of that nature. Obviously they do not come within the category complained of.
Although we of the Australian Labor Party are opposed in present circumstances to our troops being in Vietnam, we will not allow anything which could harm them. We want to see that nobody can betray the principles of this country and send material with which our troops can be killed, how ever meagre an amount of material it may be. But at the same time, if it is true that the Monash University Labor Club is assisting the enemies of Australia, how much more true is it of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd, John Lysaght (Aust.) Pty Ltd and the representatives of the Australian Wheat Board who go backwards and forwards to this country, lt is interesting when we find that the Government does not recognise China but appoints an ambassador to Taiwan. I imagine that the Australian Department of Trade and Industry would have almost as many wheat selling agents in China as we have troops in Vietnam.
– That is typical of the honourable senator’s ignorance.
– Is it suggested that wc are not selling wheat or steel to China? 1 do not know how many selling agents we have in that country. Senator McKellar adopts a very fine military approach to these matters. He is in favour of sending troops to Vietnam but still does not adopt the approach of our friend and ally, the United States of America, and take a stand against any trade or assistance whatever. Of course he does not. He believes in sending young men there, as well as steel. That is the hypocrisy of the Government and that is what we believe must be exposed.
We support this Bill because we believe that nothing should be done to injure any Australian troops. However, at the Committee stage we intend to propose an amendment to the effect that a person charged with the offence shall be dealt with by a judge and jury, just as any other person accused of a like offence is dealt with by a judge and jury. When these people from the Monash University Labor Club are brought before a judge and jury - if they are brought before a judge and jury - 1 hope that there will also be before that judge and jury someone from John Lysaght’s, BHP and Australian Iron and Steel, and the members of this Government who have allowed those organisations to make their blood money out of people who are supposed to be our enemies.
Senator SIM (Western Australia) [3.461 - What we have just heard is the effort of a typical backroom lawyer who puts up cockshies and proceeds to knock them down. I have no intention of trying to follow the tortuous thinking of Senator Wheeldon. He referred to this Bill as a political gimmick and then said: ‘We will support it’. I find it amazing that a man of such principles as Senator Wheeldon would support a political gimmick. The only reason I can imagine why he and the Opposition are supporting a political gimmick is that they are not game to try to throw it out or to vote against it.
Listening to Senator Wheeldon I was reminded of the famous reply the late Sir Winston Churchill gave to a questioner: ‘I should think it hardly possible to state the opposite of the truth with more precision’. The only question I would raise is whether the opposite of the truth was stated with any precision. I was also reminded, after listening to Senator Wheeldon and after reading the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in another place, of Oscar Wilde’s description of one of his contemporaries: ‘He drowned in his own shallows’.
– The honourable senator has been reading those desk calendars again.
– J have not been reading desk calendars but I have been reading Sir Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde. Senator Wheeldon’s speech was a string of irrelevancies which bore no relationship to this Bill. We are discussing a measure which is designed to provide the means of taking action against those who act in a treasonable manner against the fighting forces of Australia. We are not at war with China and no member of the Government has ever claimed that we are.
Opposition senators - Oh!
– I hear the roar of disapproval from the Opposition side. Can Opposition senators quote one statement by a member of the Government which says: We are at war with China’? I challenge them to do so. What we are fighting against is the spread of Communism, backed - I make no secret of that - by Communist China. I will not be led aside on the question of trade with Communist China. I have great respect for the views of members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party on this matter because I know that they are sincere. I support trade with China for one reason, namely, that at some time, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has stated in another place, we must make some accommodation with China, so we should keep at least one door open. To my mind trade with China is a valuable door to keep open. It is for that reason I support trade with China. We should not cut China off completely unless she becomes an enemy of Australia through war and we are engaged in fighting Chinese troops.
Following his leader in another place, Senator Wheeldon claimed that there are ample administrative powers to prevent these funds going to North Vietnam. I do not believe that this is correct, because some of the people involved in this have announced that they can get around the problem by, perhaps, sending funds to some bogus organisation in the United Kingdom. It would be an extremely difficult matter to follow by administrative action all of the tortuous efforts that these people would make to get funds out of Australia. But I do not think this is the main point. The main point is that administrative action does not deal effectively with those who are engaging in treasonable actions. It does not matter whether a few stupid students or a thousand people are involved. There is a principle involved in this, in relation to people who by deliberate action are acting in a manner contrary to the welfare of this country and of our righting troops.
I remember one of these students saying that if some of this money came back in the form of bullets and killed an Australian soldier that was just too bad. If this is the view of these people, it is not the action of a few stupid students. It is the action of people who are engaging in treason and anybody who tolerates it is unworthy to be an Australian. The Government has not magnified the actions of a few foolish people. I do not accept the view that these are all foolish students, because a worldwide psychological warfare is being conducted by Communists throughout the world, as many leading correspondents have pointed out. But even if we accept that these students are stupid, this does not justify a few stupid people engaging in treason. The Government has acted not to magnify the efforts of these people but because of widespread public concern, widespread concern within the Parliament, and also grave concern expressed by our own troops in Vietnam to whom Senator Wheeldon in a contemptible manner refers as conscripts. I remind Senator Wheeldon that he used this expression when he faced a young national serviceman on a television programme in Perth. I have never seen anybody as cowed as Senator Wheeldon was when this young national serviceman pointed a finger at him and said: Don’t you call me a conscript’.
– No, he did not.
– Yes, he did. Senator Wheeldon comes to this Parliament and uses this expression but he has not faced this young man and used the word ‘conscript’. Let him use it again in front of the young man and see what happens to him. The issue we face in this is whether the Vietcong or the National Liberation Front is an independent organisation or whether this is a civil war. I have in my hand a dishonest booklet entitled: ‘Vietnam - Myth and Reality’. It should be: ‘Myth and Unreality*. In this booklet the Reverend Alan Walker, I think, refers to this war as a civil war. We hear members of the Opposition referring to it as a civil war. I intend to show that this body which these students intend to assist is in fact a body controlled by the North Vietnamese Communist Party.
– Not the Chinese?
– I said it was controlled by the North Vietnamese Communist Party. Get that straight and do not try to misrepresent me. I want to show that this organisation, to use economic terms, is a wholly owned subsidiary with its own articles of association and its own shareholders, self acknowledged. It is my intention, Sir, to prove this point because I always believe that the Communists - ‘the shareholders in this organisation - are the best authorities as to their objectives. The North Vietnamese Communist Party, and indeed the Chinese, have never made any secret of the origins of the Vietcong and the National Liberation Front. This is the body that these people intend to help. One of the students said that it was in his view some independent organisation which had risen against oppression. I noticed that the report of the Third National Congress of the North Vietnamese Communist Party, held in Hanoi in 1960, set out clearly the objectives of the Party. I will quote a little from the records of that Congress. The report stated: the southern people’s revolutionary struggle will be long, drawn out, and arduous. It is not a simple process but a complicated one, combining many varied forms of struggle - from elementary to advanced, legal and illegal - and based on the building, consolidation and development of the revolutionary force of the masses. In this process, we must constantly intensify our solidarity and the organisation and education of the people of the South - especially the workers, peasants and the intellectuals - and must uphold the revolutionary fighting spirit of all strata of patriotic compatriots. . . .
Here is a clear indication that the North Vietnamese Communist Party is closely allied to the move to liberate the South. But there is even more conclusive evidence. The resolutions passed at the Third National Congress clearly set out two important strategic responsibilities of the Vietnamese revolution: One was ‘to carry out the socialist revolution in North Vietnam’; and the other was ‘to liberate South Vietnam from the ruling yoke of the United States imperialists and their henchmen in order to achieve national unity and complete independence and freedom throughout the country”.
But, Sir, the best is yet to come. In 1962 a document was captured from the Vietcong. lt was submitted to the International Control Commission and released by that organisation on 30th May 1962. Therefore I presume it is not a bogus document. In part, this document stated:
In regard to the foundation of the People’s Revolutionary Party of South Vietnam, the creation of this party is only a matter of strategy; it needs to be explained within the party; and, to deceive the enemy, it is necessary that the new party be given the outward appearance corresponding to a division of party (Lao Dong) into two and the foundation of a new party, so that the enemy cannot use it for propaganda.
Within the party, it will be necessary to explain that the founding of the People’s Revolutionary Party has the purpose of isolating the Americans and the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, and to counter their accusations of an invasion of the South by the North, lt is means of supporting our sabotage of the Geneva Agreement, of advancing the plan of invasion of the South, and at the same time permitting the Front for Liberation of the South to recruit new adherents, and to gain sympathy of non-aligned countries in South East Asia.
The Peoples’ Revolutionary Party has only the appearance of an independent existence; actually, our party is nothing but the Lao Dong Party of Vietnam (Viet Minh Communist Party), unified from North to South, under the direction of the central executive committee of the party, the chief of which is President Ho. . . .
During these explanations, take care to keep this strictly secret, especially in South Vietnam, so that the enemy does not perceive our purpose. . . .
Do not put these explanations in parly bulletins.
Do we require any more proof of who controls the National Liberation Front? The North Vietnam Communist Party has told us in language which I believe everybody can understand that the Front is a part of the North Vietnam Communist Party. Indeed, I will prove this by one further brief quotation. The Peking representative of the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front, Nguyen Minh Phuong, referred to the Vietnamese as standard bearers of the modern proletariat, which is a Chinese term for anti-United States fighters. One could go on at considerable length quoting from either Chinese or North Vietnamese sources the true facts about the control of the National Liberation Front. I have quoted these passages to illustrate clearly the aid which this Bill is designed to prevent and the action that is to be taken against those who try to assist the National Liberation Front, that the National Liberation Front is not an independent organisation, and that the war in Vietnam is not a civil war but is a calculated campaign by Communism inspired from the North to spread throughout the South.
Much has been said about the oppressed people of South Vietnam under Diem and subsequent governments. Such statements are rather interesting. If the people of South Vietnam are oppressed and if a rising against oppression is taking place, then this thought occurs to me: Are the people of North Vietnam not oppressed? Why have not the people of North Vietnam risen against oppression? If Australia is to support a South Vietnamese Government which is not democratically elected, then I put this question: Is the North Vietnamese Government a democratically elected government? If the North Vietnamese and the Communists took over the control of South Vietnam would the South Vietnamese people have an opportunity to decide their own future at free elections? The present South Vietnamese Government has conducted free elections. But no Communist government in the world has ever conducted free elections. The Government of North Vietnam, which would take over the control of South Vietnam, is like all Communist governmentsit has been imposed and sustained by force. No Communist government has ever been elected by the people or sustained by a free vote of the people, except in the small State of Kerala in India. Even if North Vietnam succeeded in taking over South Vietnam the economic and social conditions of the South Vietnamese people would be no better. Indeed, on past record, conditions would be a lot worse under a Communist government, bad though conditions may be now. After all, was it not General Giap who said: ‘We executed too many honest people and torture became a daily occurrence’? In Vietnam we are fighting against this type of government taking over without the expressed will of the people as much as against anything else. That is the situation that the Bill seeks to cover.
The Bill does not seek to deny the right of dissent; the right of dissent is not challenged. The right of people to disagree with their government either by word or deed is not challenged. The right of the people to engage in protest marches, such as the one in Canberra when the former Leader of the Opposition, Mr Calwell, the present Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy), Senator Wheeldon, and Senator Wilkinson marched alongside, behind or in front of a lot of silly students wearing Vietcong colours on their clothes, will not be dented. But what will be denied is the right of Australians to give physical aid to those who are fighting our own troops. I am dismayed at the total dishonesty of the intellectual left wing of the Australian Labor Party. Two honourable senators have put their names to the dishonest document I mentioned earlier. This attitude is typical of the dishonesty of the intellectual left wing whom one would think would be bound by their academic discipline to draw conclusions from observed facts. They distort facts to support (heir own conclusions.
I am in no difficulty in supporting this Bill. I believe that the people of Australia overwhelmingly support the measure. Opposition senators, despite their claim that this is a political gimmick - if they really believed that it was a political gimmick, one would think that they would not lend themselves to support it - and despite their dislike of this Bill, will support it for one reason. They are frightened of the reaction of the Australian people who will not tolerate our fighting forces being undermined by the actions of a few treasonable people at home. Whether two people or a thousand people are involved is. not important. I give the Bill my strongest support.
– I welcome this Bill and .say that it is the least that the public of Australia would expect from any self-respecting government which had any solicitude for Australians who are engaged in war in Vietnam. This legislation aims at making it an offence for individuals or organisations of individuals to collect and dispatch funds for the assistance and the aid of the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation front. I believe that the Government would not have introduced this legislation if the demonstrations and collection of funds by students of the University of Melbourne, the Monash University and the Australian
National University had not been raised by the Australian Democratic Labor Party through Senator McManus. We considered that the action and the statements by these people were not only gravely unpatriotic but also were very un-Australian. It was incomprehensible that within our midst we had an element which disregarded the welfare of our own fighting men so much that it was prepared to lend itself to a movement aimed at raising funds to assist the National Liberation Front and the Vietcong in every possible way without any restrictions. What amazed one most was the lethargy, the indifference and failure of the Government to do something to put a stop to this diabolical activity.
Since the Government indicated that it proposed to introduce legislation a lot of people associated with this activity have been making a lot of plausible explanations of what they intended and what they meant. Some of them will say that they intended only to raise some money to assist the distressed people in North Vietnam, that they did not intend to aid the enemy of the Australian soldier in any militaristic fashion. However, the Press report I have in my hand states that when it was decided at Monash University to aid the National Liberation Front, the National Union of Australian University Students said:
It is proposed that the fund- that they hoped to raise - be in two parts. One to give aid unconditionally to the NLF, the other a fund for medical aid for the areas of South Vietnam under the administration of the NLF.
There is no ambiguity about that statement and there is no doubt in my mind that those people were not concerned about how the money was to be used. No conditions were attached to the money that is to be and was to have been despatched from this country to aid the enemy of the Australian forces. I repeat that it was a diabolical activity. I also repeat that any self respecting government of a democracy such as Australia could not but introduce legislation of this nature. I do not want to emphasise the point too much, but in view of the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) recently went to great pains to point out the reasons why he delayed for 3 weeks or a month before taking action against the people collecting money for the National Liberation Front, I believe I am entitled to say that the Government would not have acted on its own initiative. It is just another instance to prove that the Government needs a bit of prodding, not only in this connection but in every field of government. Over the years the Democratic Labor Party has been required to do a great deal of prodding to get the Government to act in the fields of social services and defence.
When we referred to Australia’s defence reliance we received very little response to our appeals. When we talked about the introduction of national service training, Minister after Minister stated that Service heads said that national service training could not be integrated with the defence policy of the Government. Out of the blue, as it were, the Prime Minister of the day said that national service training would be introduced. I could quote many other instances to show that the Government is content to go along in the hope that time will solve a lot of its problems, and that delay will overcome difficulties. The subject matter of this Bill is an example. Instead of stepping in to take very positive and prompt action as is now proposed in the Bill, the Government delayed. To say that this legislation will make martyrs of the people collecting funds for the NLF is unreal and untrue. If action is not taken, what is the alternative? Are these people, because they attend a university or some other institution, to be allowed to run this country and to perpetrate acts of disloyalty bordering on treason? Is that to go on without any impediment or punishment? I am glad to have been associated with the introduction of this legislation. Without question, it would never have seen the light of day but for the matter of urgency raised by Senator McManus in the Senate.
When the Press gave publicity to the activities of students at Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, it became clear that difficulties were associated with the use of the Crimes Act to put a stop to the planned assistance for the forces engaged in combat with Australian troops in Vietnam. The Government tried to postpone action by saying that the matter was under examination. The Democratic Labor Party knew that the real intention of the Government was to let the matter die. I think that course would have been followed had the Government not learned in no uncertain way that the public was concerned about the demonstrations and the suggested collection of money. When the public learned from Senator McManus what was going on and began to learn of the letters of protest being received in Australia from servicemen in Vietnam, the Government saw no alternative but to go ahead and act.
One of the worst and most dangerous features of the demonstrations was the influence and effect that they could have on the general public. It was not so much that a great deal of money was being collected or that enormous crowds were participating in the demonstrations. We feared the snowballing effect that would result unless these activities were checked promptly. I am very pleased to learn that the Bill contains provision for punishment of those persons who incite people to commit the prescribed acts. I am afraid that too frequently a lot of unbalanced, demonstrative young people are talked into taking part in demonstrations and into joining movements by people who are too cowardly to come out into the open. They elect to remain anonymous in the background, pushing others out to commit the acts which are likely to bring them before the courts of the land. I am pleased that the Bill contains provision to deal with people who incite others to commit these acts, as well as to deal with the people who perpetrate the acts.
Anyone who has bothered to read the Communist Press, both here and overseas, will realise that the Communists attempt to gain propaganda value from the smallest demonstrations. Peking Radio frequently broadcasts exaggerated stories of antiVietnam demonstrations in Australia and other non-Communist countries. Had the assistance to the Vietcong been allowed to continue, Peking Radio and other Communist news agencies would have trumpeted the news in an exaggerated and extensive form to the four corners of the world, leading people to believe that Australians in the main were not behind the Government in Australia’s participation in the war in Vietnam, and that the Australian public was raising huge sums of money to assist the Vietcong and the National Liberation Front. The principle at stake was whether
Australians should be allowed to collect money and aid to send to forces which are killing and wounding Australian troops in Vietnam. Even to think of such action for one minute sends a cold shiver down the back of anyone who has any sense of mateship or any regard for the sacrifices that are being made by those young men who have gone up there because the Government of this country has asked them to help the South Vietnamese people to establish their own form of government and to resist being browbeaten into accepting a Communist form of government which they do not want. Would the Australian people like to be forced to give away their democratic form of government and to accept a dictatorial form of government, whether it be Fascist or Communist? Of course they would not. They would resist it and fight to the last ditch to preserve their democratic way of life. All we are doing in South Vietnam is aiding the people there to preserve some form of democracy instead of becoming just subjects of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietcong or the National Liberation Front.
Since the time when Australian troops first arrived in Vietnam, 134 have been killed and 645 have been wounded. The extent of these casualties was well known in Australia, yet in late July the Monash University Labor Club decided to establish a committee to give aid unconditionally to the National Liberation Front. It was only after the Press had given publicity to its plans that that Labor Club announced that it was collecting only for medical aid and civil aid. This of course was untrue, according to a report published by the National Union of Australian University Students on 28th July in which it was stated that the funds were to be given unconditionally to the National Liberation Front, which could do what it liked with them. However, the action of these students had drawn attention to the legality of giving assistance to the enemy.
Various objections were raised against using the Crimes Act to deal with this matter. The Australian Democratic Labor Party suggested that if the Crimes Act was inadequate then new legislation should be framed and introduced into this Parliament. That is what has taken place. That is precisely what Dr Evatt did in 1947 when he introduced the Approved Defence Projects
Protection Bill to protect the Woomera Rocket Range from saboteurs and other people who would undermine and destroy the war effort of this country. In a booklet which he issued describing the legislation, Dr Evatt stated quite clearly that existing legislation had been found to be insufficient and that new legislation bad to be framed to deal with the particular set of circumstances. The legislation now before us appears to be quite comprehensive, and I am pleased to note that it also covers, as I said before, those who are not game to demonstrate or to come out into the open but who incite others to do these unpatriotic and unworthy things in our community. On this occasion the Government has been brought into action before it became too late.
The students gave an indication of what type of mischief was in the minds of those sympathetic to the Vietcong. Had they succeeded in their small scale plans and not been stopped, other groups would have enlarged and widened the scheme and we would have had these organisations springing up throughout the country, defying the Government and engaging in all these malpractices. Fortunately the Bill is before us; I do not propose to delay its passage through the Senate. The sooner it is made law, the better. I trust that it will be most effective in its operation and that it will succeed in achieving what it is designed to dc. I am satisfied that no-one in the community other than those people with whom it aims to deal will do anything but approve and applaud its introduction. We know that following the submission to this chamber of an emergency motion by my colleague Senator McManus, the public of Australia were apprised for the first time of what was going on and how serious it was. They have offered nothing but the highest praise and the greatest applause to the Democratic Labor Party for bringing the matter forward when the Government appeared to be tardy in taking action - that is, if it ever intended to take action.
As I have said, I do not want to delay the passage of the Bill. I am very proud indeed to have been associated with its initiation. I believe that the only way of stopping similar movements is for the Government to step on them promptly. What has the Government to fear in doing the right thing for the protection and preserva tion of our democracy? What has it got to fear in acting to protect the welfare of those who are fighting and putting up with extreme hardship, privation and other disabilities so that we might continue to enjoy the liberties and freedom that only a democracy can give? What has the Government to fear in doing what is consistent with a democracy such as ours? I am satisfied that the public of Australia will applaud the introduction of this legislation. I am glad to note that the official Opposition in this place, the Australian Labor Party, has indicated that it will support, the Bill. When the emergency motion to which I referred was being discussed several speakers on behalf of that Party said that they did not condone the action of the university students.
– It is not really an emergency.
– It is not an emergency?
– No. What has happened is not really an emergency.
– Then what is an emergency? I think it is an emergency when people like those in this element demonstrate and collect funds to aid the enemies of Australian forces. It was urgently necessary that the Government take some positive action to prevent that. This is what the Government has done.
Since the Government intimated that this legislation was to be brought down we have read of many excuses and a lot of ballyhoo to the effect that there was no intention to do anything disloyal or to aid the enemy militaristically; that the aid was only for the civilian population. This is all baloney that no-one accepts for one moment. My reason for saying that is that when it was decided to establish the aid organisation and to commence this campaign it was stated unambiguously that the aid was to be unconditional. I conclude- by saying that my colleague and I will support this Bill without reservation. We believe that by our vote we will be expressing; the feelings of the great Australian public.
Senator LILLICO (Tasmania) 4.32] - I propose to say little about the background against which this Bill has been promulgated; that is, the struggle in Vietnam.
Senator Sim dwelt at some length on that aspect of the matter. I content myself with saying that we on this side of the chamber and the members of the Democratic Labor Party believe that the struggle in Vietnam is just one more episode in the onward march of international Communism. We believe further that if South East Asia is engulfed by international Communism Australia itself will stand in dire peril indeed. We believe that it is better to try to stop international Communism where it is than to wait until it reaches the shores of this country. On the other hand the Opposition believes that the struggle in Vietnam is, in the main, only a localised struggle and that therefore Australia should have nothing to do with it. 1 wish I could believe that. But all the facts and portents point in the opposite direction.
When Senator Wheeldon spoke on this measure he said: ‘The Labor Party accepts the principle and supports the Bill’. He went on to say that the introduction of the Bill was due to pressure by the DLP. If that is so, good luck to that Party; it has contributed to a worthy purpose. Because of the attitude of members of the Opposition that I have indicated, their actions and speeches must be coloured accordingly. Whilst they appear not to oppose this measure, they believe that their best course is to impute unworthy motives, to disparage the Government and to make out that something sinister lies behind the introduction of this measure. Senator Wheeldon went on to say that all this activity by a very small section of students at two or three universities, in the main in Victoria, could have been stopped by administrative action. It is interesting to note that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) - I take it, with all the legal advice of his department behind him - said that it was simply not true to say that this position could have been dealt with completely administratively.
We have heard the introduction of this Bill attributed to the DLP. Last week this measure was described as a mighty political stunt by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). I regret to say that it is true that the Bill is concerned with people whom we might term the lunatic fringe of university students. They are young people with a sadistic turn of mind who, for some reason or other, seem to want to rebel against all the ordinary, decent courses that most people follow. Thank goodness they are a very small minority. It is regrettable that such publicity should have accrued to them. If it is true that other people - people of greater experience and of a more sinister disposition - are behind them, those are the ones at whom I should like to see this Bill strike.
But, be that as it may, it is a fact that long before the Prime Minister had anything to say about this matter it received a lot of publicity and was featured many times in the newspapers. Apparently it featured in the news that reached our servicemen in Vietnam before the Prime Minister had anything to say about it. I was beginning to wonder when some action would be taken by the Government in regard to this move to aid and abet the very enemies against whom Australian soldiers are fighting. So I believe that to say that this is a publicity stunt, that it represents a desire on the part of the Prime Minister to seek the limelight and that this matter would not have received anything like the publicity that it has received had the Prime Minister not taken action is to make an unworthy imputation. It is unworthy simply because it is not true.
Senator Wheeldon went on to indicate that the greatest contribution to the Vietcong and the Communist forces and against our troops and those of the United States in Vietnam is being made by the Government itself because it allows trade with Red China. In the short term, I believe that if Australia’s trade with Red China were discontinued tomorrow that would have no practical effect whatsoever on the struggle that is taking place in Vietnam, lt would be only a gesture - and an empty gesture at that. In the long term, I do not deny that there is probably something in what Senator McManus said in this chamber last week. But, as far as having any immediate practical effect on the struggle in Vietnam is concerned, I repeat that to discontinue the trade forthwith would be just a gesture - and a particularly empty one at that. Trade with China has been magnified out of all proportion for political purposes. The Labor Party has now said that we are trading with Red China, but we have done that for many years. It has said also that it will use trade with Red China to the utmost limit as a means of political propaganda to discourage the Government. Australia’s trade with Red China can have very little, if any, practical effect on the struggle in Vietnam. I picked up a commentary on this subject only last weekend. The commentator stated:
The famous scrap iron controversy of the piePacific War days has an exact counterpart now in the nearly ten-year-old recriminations which have followed the Government’s concurrence in exports of a range of iron and steel products to the Chinese. This element has been magnified completely out of all proportion. The Government’s claim that the iron exports are not of strategic significance is probably thoroughly based. The quantity is not very significant, on top of which the exports are of commercial quality, not scrap. It is improbable that a country as hard pressed for foreign exchange as Red China is would waste resources on commercial quality iron and steel for melting down when all the facts show that China does not have much trouble in buying scrap iron much more cheaply.
I believe that that statement is quite accurate. It is all very fine for honourable senators to say while they are in opposition that because of our trade with Red China the Government is the greatest offender so far as aid to the Vietcong is concerned, but in my view that is nothing more than an empty libellous statement. I support the measure and I hope that the Government will pursue it and implement it with all the rigour possible. I believe that the situation now is similar to that which we had in 1939-45 when the Curtin Government was in office and that this is a situation which cannot be tolerated by any self respecting government.
I regret that although the Opposition supports the measure it has used it as a means to disparage the Government. How else can we feel about a Party which determined at its conference in Adelaide not very long ago that if it became the Government the first thing it would do would be to issue an ultimatum to its allies - I was about to say blackmail them - along these lines: Unless you do this, that and the other things which are calculated to cause the struggle in Vietnam to be futile, we will pull our forces out of Vietnam? Having indicated more forcibly than words could indicate that we consider the United States of America an unworthy ally, one not fit to be associated with, one which is conducting an inhuman war, we would then be standing completely alone. That proposition is worse than we have heard from Arthur Calwell at his worst. At least he came forward and said that he did not believe in this war and that we would withdraw our forces from Vietnam. But the Labor Party now proposes that before doing that it will blackmail our ally by saying that unless it does this, that and the other we will pull our forces out of Vietnam. May the Lord save the Commonwealth of Australia from ever being faced with the predicament which would ensue if this were to take place. I cannot help feeling that when Australia’s history comes to be written, if we are still in possession of this country people will marvel at some of the peculiarly minded people in the free world who refused to see, to realise and to accept the threat with which they were confronted and continually argued that the threat did not exist, despite the fact that it was plain and clear for all the world to see.
The free world has nothing to fear except from itself and from that element within it which, for some obscure reason, refuses to realise and to accept the threat with which it is confronted. I support the measure which I belive is fully justified. I accept without question that it is necessary, as was said by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in another place. I believe that any self respecting government would have had to take action in view of what was happening. I regret the publicity which must ensue from this measure but which has always flowed from action of this kind. Further, I regret the publicity that must attend what I described a while ago as the lunatic fringe of university students.
– Other Opposition speakers have already mentioned our altitude to the Bill. In view of Senator Lillico’s remarks I believe it will be necessary for me to follow him into the field of foreign policy. However, before doing so, I propose to examine the word ‘sincerity’ which has been bandied about this chamber. About the time that this legislation was introduced in another place the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was asked whether or not our Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations could not have been used to prevent funds from being sent to North Vietnam. He replied in vague terms and said that when the matter had been drawn to his attention certain developments were stopped. It is apparent from what he said that this issue did not loom very large in his consideration. There has been reference to demonstrations. They are nothing new. It seems to me that the urgency expressed by Senator Lillico is not shared completely by the Treasurer. I believe that among the general public the question at issue is not whether a great amount of aid has been given to the enemy; it is more or less a question of the principle which is involved in giving aid.
All the talk in the world, particularly by Senator Lillico who said that the Labor Party was raising the question of trade with continental China, makes no difference. Forgetting the concept of global war, the plain fact of the matter is that if 40% of our wheat went to China last year and we received 138c a bushel for it whereas we sold our wheat to other countries for 144c a bushel, the Australian taxpayer had to meet a bill of at least SI 6m. The whole thing is beyond my comprehension. Even if the Government disregarded the relative value of trading with a country which has territorial ambitions on more favourable terms than it trades with another country, it would still persist in pursuing its present policy.
During the last Queensland election campaign I was in the town of Dalby, quite a unique town. It is represented by Mr Diplock- I know Senator Gair will appreciate this - who undoubtedly is a very highly respected parliamentarian. In conversation with a few members of the Queensland Labor Party I said: T imagine you are pretty strong on the Commonwealth Government’s attitude on trade with China’. They said ‘Don’t be foolish. This ls a rural electorate. What would happen to our surplus wheat?’ I do not object to that attitude but it is completely foolish to have one policy for commercial purposes and another for political propaganda purposes. Behaviour like that virtually prostitutes debates of this nature.
Senator Gorton referred to the precedent for such special legislation as that now before the Senate in the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act of 1947 which was introduced by the Chifley Government. In this debate we have heard the name of Dr Evatt, a former Commonwealth Attorney-
General, spoken almost with bated breath, lt is not so long ago that Dr Evatt was regarded in some quarters as a danger to the security of this country. The Government cannot have it both ways. Either he was an eminent statesman, an efficient Attorney-General and a worthy Minister for External Affairs or he was a failure. If he was a failure, then the Labor Government of the day was a failure and it did something wrong in relation to the Woomera Rocket Range. But now the Government is quite happy to quote the precedent set by other legislation. I do not quarrel with it because it was an indication of a Labor government acting responsibly to meet a certain situation.
The Government evidences pangs of regret when it asks: ‘Why does the Labor Party not oppose this measure? It is the role of the Opposition to oppose. But the Government cannot have it both ways. If we are concerning ourselves with national security, let us say so but do not let us have the Government saying: ‘1 wish the Opposition would make a mistake and then we would flog it. If the Government wants to cover its inconsistencies in the ^natter of trade with China, let it not talk about the Labor Party or the Labor movement. It would be just as wrong for me to say that Liberal Party policies reflect ultra right conservative thinking, because Fascism is the extreme of Conservatism and Communism is the extreme of Socialism. If the Government is endeavouring to confuse the electorate the Labor Party can play the same game but I do not think it is worthy of the Senate to indulge in such practices.
Last night when referring to the conflict in Asia I said that anyone with any humanitarian thoughts would not say, when he saw a charred corpse or a mutilated child: T wonder whether this happened in Hanoi or Saigon*. Is there any movement of money to North Vietnam? If so, for what purpose is it being used? If we develop these questions we can get into difficulty. I know the Government would hesitate to lock horns with the Red Cross, the Quakers, the World Council of Churches or one or two Catholic organisations because obviously any assistance they rendered would be rendered to both sides.
We must adopt a certain approach to this legislation. Let me deal with subversion. I think Senator Lillico, like myself, knows only too well what happened in Britain and in Australia when people were taken into custody during the war. If we could look at the files of the security service no doubt we would find that some of the people who were taken into custody had far leftist associations; but I am sure that for every one of those there would be one who was inclined to the far right. I have not had the opportunity to go too far into Commonwealth security and I would not expect to be able to breach it but I do know that quite a number of books produced in Britain in the post-war period have raised this aspect and have indicated that when Harry Pollitt and a few of his Communist Party friends were put into Broadmoor gaol there were, in adjacent cells, members of a group known as the Link. They included members of the top naval brass, people who between the wars regarded themselves as super patriots but who, because they had a soft spot for Hitler, objected to authority and were rounded up. The authorities disposed of the right of any party to claim that its members arc super patriots. That is the attitude of the Labor Party.
We believe that in matters such as that now under discussion authority is vested in the Commonwealth and the rule of law should prevail. Sometimes we can be stampeded. A classic illustration of that can be found in the recent books relating to the rounding up of the Nisei in California. Even Justice Warren of the United States Supreme Court has said that there were miscarriages of justice on that occasion but I do not criticise the Roosevelt Government for what it did then any more than I would criticise the Labor Party for rounding up members of the Australia First Movement. It was obvious that both in America and Australia people might have been imprisoned wrongly and that others got their deserts. The point I am making is that in an outright war a government must be firmer than it need be in a situation like the present one.
We hear many people advocating this Boots and all’ policy. I point out that no-one has a monopoly on peace. I have here the August 1967 issue of the ‘Catholic Worker’ which refers to a big peace committee demonstration in Melbourne before the war. A gentleman now very prominent on Channel 9 in Sydney, Mr Santamaria - I do not begrudge him his right to express a point of view - attended the meeting and moved a resolution.
– When was this?
– I am referring to May 1939.
– Dr Evatt was there that night with him.
– I do noi think so. He was on the High Court at the time. So I have bowled out the honourable senator on that one. In his speech on that occasion Mr Santamaria said:
We are confronted with a situation in which millions of Englishmen and millions of Frenchmen arc honestly convinced that Germany threatens aggression. With equal certainty one can say that there are millions of Germans who believe just as honestly that Britain and France arc attempting a policy of encirclement.
Although Santamaria has undoubted ability in some fields, we must admit that he was certainly wrong in his assessment of European affairs.
– I would say that that is worse than putting in a few shillings.
– It was t peace conference. When people espouse peace we must always be careful not to imagine that they are potential Communists, Fascists or something else. My submission, like that of my leader in another place and of other Labor speakers in this debate, is that the mechanism of the Treasury could have been just as effective as this legislation. If the Government claims that this legislation will be more effective, we get back to Senator Wheeldon’s submission about our income from the export of steel and other materials. The Government cannot have it both ways. If we advocate trade with these countries we are in pretty fair company, as I know Sir Winston Churchill believed in that dictum. We adopt a consistent policy but the Government claims that we are playing politics. Now the Government has the situation in which we say that we support the principles of the Bill, but the Government has some pangs of regret. I suggest that the Government apply the yardstick that some Government supporters are using today and go through the Hansard record for the war years, particularly from 1941 when the Curtin Government took office. On numerous occasions when Bills were introduced by John Curtin and his Ministers, leaders of the Opposition parties, who now form the present Government rose to say: We realise this action is justified. We go along with it. You have to watch this aspect.’ One would wait in vain for Curtin to say: ‘Yes, but you are only doing this for political purposes. Tn your hearts you do not believe in it’. There was a remarkably fine degree of national solidarity.
But at the present time the Government seems to regret the fact that we are recognising our responsibility as an Opposition. It seems to me that it is like a fast bowler bowling balls 6 inches outside the off stump, with the batsman letting them go through to the wicketkeeper. The bowler would like to have the batsman touch a ball and be caught at first slip but it is not happening. The Government is worried. It has to pull its fast bowlers out of the attack and it is looking for spinners but it has not got them. That is the situation that the Government seems to be confronting.
For all that, when one goes over all aspects of this matter one sees that the Opposition has tried to be helpful to the Government. I. do not like to return to what Senator Lillico said, but he went into a long discourse about the future of Vietnam. I noticed in this morning’s Press a report in relation to Governor Romney, a leading Republican candidate for election as President of the United States of America who claims that he was brainwashed over there on certain aspects. That is a matter for the American voting public. I do not say this gloatingly, but cannot Government supporters imagine a Republican President or even LBJ, in office for another term, looking for a settlement along the lines of that existing between North and South Korea? Politics being what it is, if Johnson has to decide between saving embarrassment for this Government and a return to office in the United States there will be only one decision to make. When that day comes, I can assure the Government, we will not be gloating and saying that men’s lives were wasted. We will say that at least there is some form of containment.
Let us be realistic about this question of the Labor Party’s policy in relation to alliances with the nations in Asia. Even the former Prime Minister. Sir Robert Menzies, said that over the years we had had a lot’ of differences with the British and American Governments - perhaps, unlike the position in the Australian Labor Party, these differences did not always come out in the open - but we had expressed a strong Australian viewpoint. There is nothing new about that. When I asked: ‘What about the attitude of Curtin in an honest difference of opinion with Churchill on the deployment of Australian troops from the Middle East to the South West Pacific area rather than to Burma?’, even such a learned senatorial historian as Senator Magnus Cormack said: ‘Curtin was quite right’. It was good enough to’ have a major collision on an issue like that.
The Australian Government should say to President Johnson: ‘We know the amount of money that you are putting into Vietnam. We know the number of troops that you are putting in. Do you really believe that you are creating a new society?’ I have heard so often in the last few years that we are on the verge of a new society. I do not decry the recent election in South Vietnam when the people voted for a new President and all of the other trappings of democracy. That is reasonable. But at some point of time there will have to be a virtual agreement. It is not the responsibility of the Labor Party in opposition at the moment or of the Government, whatever peace initiatives it undertakes - and I hope that it will continue them. It will be very, very interesting in the next 12 months, in relation not to this Budget but to the next one, if the Government goes along the same road as President Johnson went along, and applies increases of 10% in company tax and income tax. I am afraid that the Government will be looking for alternatives.
I have indulged in a discourse on foreign policy because the previous speaker did so. To sum up, I believe that the Opposition has tried to be reasonable on this matter. We still feel that Treasury action could have been just as effective as the legislation before us will be. We note that when the Government looked for some precedent it had to go back to what the Chifley Government did in 1947. Of course, it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I say that that is an indication of how a Commonwealth Labor government operates when it has problems of this nature. I will leave it at that.
– I support the Bill, naturally, and it was with quite a sense of relief that I listened to Senator Mulvihill after listening to the nonstop barrage, mainly of invective, put up by Senator Wheeldon earlier this afternoon. I am sorry that he is not in the Senate at present because I want to make some rather critical remarks about him. It is not that I get a lot of pleasure out of this, but there are certain things that he never fails to do. One of these is to attempt to denigrate Australian soldiers. I have fought him on this on every occasion he has brought it up and I will continue to do so. In this connection I refer once again to his description of our national servicemen as conscripts. I should have thought that possibly he would have learned his lesson because just recently, I understand, in a television presentation in Western Australia he appeared with the Honourable Gordon Freeth and a national serviceman who had just came back from Vietnam. Senator Wheeldon made the mistake of referring to national servicemen as conscripts and to this particular returned man as a conscript. I am told that by the time the returned serviceman had finished with Senator Wheeldon the honourable senator had his head in his hands, and that is where it ought to be - in shame - most of the time, for never missing an attempt to denigrate the national servicemen of Australia and also those members of the forces who are not national servicemen. I again want to remind the Senate that I had the opportunity of seeing national servicemen and regular Australian soldiers in Vietnam in December of last year. When I went there I was told by the officer in command that I would not see any national servicemen as such in Vietnam, that they had been completely integrated in the Australian Army and were Australian soldiers. That is what I did find.
– Is not the term used in Australia now by the Government?
– We refer to them as national servicemen and the honourable senator knows this very well. Some members of the Opposition - admittedly only a few - never miss an opportunity to refer to them as conscripts, instead of giving these men a feeling of pride, which is what we should be giving them. I notice an honourable senator opposite laughing.
– I will say I was.
– These men are prepared to give their lives for everybody in this chamber.
– The Government conscripted them.
– They were conscripted, but we should give them all praise for the job that they are doing. That is the point that I am making. Opposition supporters are not doing this. These young national servicemen are not only upholding the reputation of former Australian servicemen; they are enhancing it and for this reason they deserve far better treatment than the Opposition is prepared to band out to them. Honourable senators opposite should hang their heads in shame. One should not be surprised, I suppose, at the tone of the contribution by Senator Wheeldon because when the rest of the senators were called back here for a special sitting in June Senator Wheeldon was over in America with a bedfellow. One should not be surprised at the bedfellow, because it was Dr Cairns.
– Cairns is a Liberal.
– I mean Dr Cairns. What were they doing? They were in America trying to bolster up the cause of those people who are opposed to America’s participation in the Vietnam war. That is what they were doing.
– They had a successful tour, too, didn’t they?
– I do not know about that. But if they are loyal to Australia and to Australia’s allies they should hang their heads in shame because they had the hide to go to a friendly country and support those who oppose the action of the President of the United States of America in defending not only America but Australia. That is what America is doing, and do not forget it. She is defending not only herself but also Australia. The sooner the Opposition wakes up to this fact the better. But I suppose that one should not be surprised at what happened.
We heard a long diatribe by the honourable senator regarding trade with Communist China. The honourable senator seemed to think that Senator Webster was responsible for this trade because until he was called to order by the presiding officer in this chamber, he kept directing his remarks to Senator Webster. I am quite sure that Senator Webster took his remarks as a compliment. After all, to be condemned by certain people can be a great compliment and 1 am quite sure that in this case Senator Webster regarded the remarks of Senator Wheeldon as a compliment. I would have done so.
What is the position regarding Communist China? We are not at war with that country. Senator Webster challenged the Opposition to deny that. They could not accept the challenge. Would it not be extreme folly for Australia to proceed on the assumption that Communist China is a potential enemy and will always be such? What sort of an existence would we in Australia have to contend with if we were to act on this assumption? It is too silly for words. At the moment, of course, we are not allies of Communist China and we are not particularly friendly with her. But who is to say that the position will not bc altered in 5 years or 10 years time? Events have a habit of moving very quickly. Surely to goodness there is a lesson to be learned from history. I think it is significant to remind ourselves that whereas only a very short time ago China’s trade with nonCommunist countries represented 30% of her total trade, today it has risen to 70%. This is the trend. Would it not be wise for us to encourage it? After all, if we were to say to China: ‘You are on the outer and we want nothing to do with you’, would this encourage that nation to be friendly towards us, particularly when we are living in the Asian sphere? There has been much talk about Australia selling wheat to Communist China.
– We are not opposed to that.
– What happened in this chamber the other night? I seem to remember that there was a long debate about Australia’s trade with Communist China. Senator Ormonde must have a very short memory.
– We are opposed to hypocrisy.
– The Opposition is opposed to a lot of things when the occasion suits. I want to tell the Senate about this wheat trade. China produces something like 137 million tons of wheat annually. What have we been exporting to China? About 2 million tons of wheat or a little over 1 % of the wheat that China needs.
– If the Minister does not mind me saying so, China produces 157 million tons of cereals. She imports 6 million tons and our sales total 2 million tons.
– I will stick to my own figures. The honourable senator can stick to his if he wishes.
– The Minister will have to correct them later.
– Senator Webster can have an opportunity to do so later on. These figures were given to me by an authority which I. am not prepared to question. Is it suggested that we in Australia should not sell wheat to the Chinese people? Presumably it is suggested also that we should say to the other grain producing countries of the world: Trade with China is bad; you should not be selling food to the Chinese. What about imposing sanctions on China?’ Is this what the Opposition suggests?
– Of course not.
– Then why is the Government chided by a very vocal Opposition senator for selling wheat to China? Why is this done?
– Because of the double standard.
– The double standard? This is where the double standard lies, and it is all too silly for words. It is suggested that Australia should not trade with China. The natural corollary is that other nations should not trade with China. Should we, as I said, try to lead other nations into imposing sanctions against China? Is this the way to gain friendship with a nation as huge as China is today?
– Australia is not gaining much friendship in Vietnam.
– That is the honourable senator’s opinion. The opinion of a number of people is that we are gaining friendship in Vietnam and will continue doing so. I regret very much that so much emphasis has been placed on these matters in this debate but I wanted to take the opportunity to put the facts before the Senate. This Bill stems from certain unfortunate happenings. The large majority of Australians regret very much that a very small number of students at Monash University, who enjoy educational facilities provided largely by the Australian taxpayers, should, in any way, however small-
– I rise to order, Mr Acting Deputy President. Is the Minister for Repatriation not doing Monash University a disservice when he continues to mention that University alone without referring to the other universities in which similar events have occurred?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - The point of order is not upheld.
– If there are other students involved, who attend other universities, then I will include them.
– Of course there are.
– I remind Senator Ormonde that this trouble stemmed from students at Monash University. 1 regret that a small body of students, who as I said earlier enjoy educational facilities provided largely by the Australian taxpayers, saw fit to assist, no matter in how small a manner, forces that are fighting against Australian soldiers. These same soldiers are risking their lives so that these same students can enjoy the education they are now receiving. My attention was attracted to a recent article in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ containing a statement attributed to a Mr Harwood, a retired regimental sergeant major who spends several nights each week visiting wounded diggers from Vietnam and Korea at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. Incidentally, Mr Harwood is also President of the Korea and South East Asia Forces Association. He said that his Association believed that these students should have been expelled from Melbourne University and Monash University as soon as their intentions became known. He said that the
National Liberation Front is the political arm of the Vietcong. He went on to say that these students were willing enough to live in Australia under the protection of the young men who are offering their lives in Vietnam. That is the point I made. I fully appreciate that there is only a small number of these students involved. I also realise that the very great majority of students abhor the sentiments expressed by these few irresponsible, young and immature university students. A query has been raised as to why the Government should see fit to introduce a Bill when only so few are involved. Surely the principle is so great that any government worth its salt should endeavour to stamp out actions of this kind at the earliest opportunity and so prevent any further occurrences of them. I am glad to know that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. But I only hope that in the future certain members of the Opposition will restrain themselves in their attempts to insult those who are fighting for this country.
– 1 am glad that the Government has introduced this legislation and that the Australian Labor Party, through its Leader, has said that this campaign for aid for our enemies had to be stopped and that therefore it would support the Bill. I am sorry that the Government did not act more quickly and that the Australian Labor Party, if it believed that this campaign had to be stopped, did not undertake the task of an Opposition and point out to the Government that it had a duty to take such action. Instead, after 3i weeks, we of the Australian Democratic Labor Party found that, apart from a mild rebuke by one of the Ministers and a mild rebuke by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), nothing of a practical nature was to be done to deal with this campaign. Therefore we of the DLP undertook the task. Senator Wheeldon said that the Government introduced the legislation at the inspiration of the DLP. Naturally the Government will not admit that. But if it is true, we gladly accept the responsibility for having forced action to see that money should not be collected in Australia to assist those who are fighting against our forces in Vietnam.
I was the subject of some criticism because it was suggested that I wanted to use the treason laws against university students.
I want to make it quite clear that I realised that if I had suggested at that particular time that all that needed to be done in this matter was to give the students a mild rebuke, the position still would be that nothing would have been done. Long ago in another sphere I learnt that if one wants to force action sometimes one has to shock people. I took action to shock people. Some people disagreed w:th what I did. But the result is now before us. Action has been taken by the Government, with the support of the official Opposition, to stop a campaign which should have been nipped in the bud in the first week in which it made its appearance.
In view of the remarkably naive attitude that has been taken towards this campaign by sections of the Press and some well known commentators, I wish to state exactly what the facts were. The suggestion has been made by some people, who are regarded in some spheres as Australia’s top commentators, that the people concerned were only immature teenagers who were not to be taken seriously. That statement is entirely untrue. The Leader of the Opposition in another place referred to these young students as cranks, anarchists and exhibitionists. Mr Barnard said that they were misguided and irresponsible. Mr Connor said that they were immature, unbalanced, publicity seeking exhibitionists and a lunatic fringe. If I said that, I would be classed as a smearer. Dr Cairns obviously knows these students; Mr Whitlam, Mr Barnard and Mr Connor do not. Dr Cairns, in his speech on this question, said:
Well, I know a number of university students who have been associated with this matter who are outstanding in their work, have received firstclass honours and great distinction in their courses.
Dr Cairns also stated that these students had had a far better intellectual performance than some members of this Parliament whom he could name.
My attitude to these people is that they consist of three types. The first group includes the misguided idealists. They are not Communists but are people who have ideals and who have been indoctrinated with the wrong kind of information in regard to this matter. The second group embraces the excitement chasers, who find in this kind of thing a substitute for the cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers that they played 10 years ago. But it is the third group that one has to look at - the people with ability and intelligence, as Dr Cairns says, who are members of Communist groups in the universities or are allied with Communist groups in the universities.
– What about the humanitarians?
– Art idealist would be a humanitarian, would he not? These people are not immature teenagers. I have noted in the newspapers that a number of the spokesmen gave their ages as 21 and 22 years. One who has said that he is prepared to help in the collection of money is 26 years of age, and he is accepted to be a university student on the score that he does one subject a year. I read in the Canberra Times’ that Ray Drew, one of the students at the Australian National University, pointed out that the people who voted on the decision to give aid to the National Liberation Front should not be dismissed as little girls or boys. Members of the Australian National University teaching staff were among those who voted approval. Anybody who knows anything about Labor Clubs knows that these clubs have members with a wide spectrum of political opinion. The Labor Clubs in most universities are the clubs that the Communist Party advises its members to join. By no means are all the members of such clubs Communists. The members have wide political views, and the clubs contain adults and members of the staffs of the particular universities.
I detest the attitude of some of the Press, radio and television commentators who talk about little boys and about little girls in mini skirts and black stockings. The people at the back of this particular campaign are grown, politically sophisticated people who embarked on this as part of the campaign which they believe is winning them the propaganda war in Australia today in regard to Vietnam. Are we to say that we shall call up young boys 20 years of age and send them to Vietnam to fight and perhaps be killed and then turn around and say that those who stayed at home, possibly because they obtained deferments, and who are 21 years of age or old enough to vote are not to be held responsible for their actions but are to be regarded with a lenient eye as though they were just boys around the place?
One very significant fact is that of the total number of young men who have been called up for national service almost the same number have obtained deferment on the ground that they want to be students. A total of 17,364 have been called up - or conscripted, if Senator Hendrickson prefers that term - and nearly 14,000 have been granted or are seeking deferment on the ground that they are students or apprentices. What would have been the position of this Parliament if we had said that we intended to call up young men and send them to die in Vietnam and at the same time we intend to allow others, who may have obtained deferment on the ground that they wished to study at a university, to collect money to provide ammunitions of war to be used against our troops? I appreciate the fact that all parties support the action that is being taken. I am amazed that the major political parties did not try to get in first, because they had responsibility as well as we did to act quickly. Is Mr Francis James an immature teenager? All these people who broadcast about persons who want to deal with students in a university do not mention Mr Francis James. What about Mr James?
– Do not call him mister because it elevates him.
– I want to mention Mr James because that brings me to my next point. Now that the Government has taken action, the people associated with the collection campaign are trying to shift the emphasis. It is part of their well planned propaganda campaign. It is not a stunt thought up by some students for which a lot of others fell. This is part of a planned propaganda campaign going on in this country today. These people are trying to shift the emphasis in their campaign. Now they say: ‘Look, we never wanted to send money for arms, for military purposes, to these people*. Mr James has said: ‘AH we wanted was an exercise in Christian compassion to help civilians on both sides’. But Richard Rigby, secretary of the Australian National University Labor Club, said in the Canberra ‘Times’: 1 must make it quite clear that no-one in the ANU Labor Club has suggested that the money wc raise be used solely for medical purposes. This is made obvious by the existence of both a medical and a general fund.
I have known a lot of Communists and I realise that it was not a coincidence that in several universities the same procedure was used. There was to be a medical fund to suck in the humanitarian person who wanted to help civilians. There was also to be another fund of unspecified character, to give military aid. I have received a letter from some people at Monash University suggesting that their actions had been misconstrued; that they had never had any intention of giving military aid.
– That is probably true.
– Senator Ormonde should have waited a moment. I have here a circular which was sent out some weeks ago by the Monash people. It states: . . there are two parts to the fund. The medical aid fund will be used to assist the population in areas controlled by the NLF.
An address is given to which donations are to be forwarded. The circular continues:
The second fund will be for unspecified aid which will support the NLF in its aim to topple a reactionary regime and remove foreigners from South Vietnamese soil.
That would not be military aid by any means, would it? The Australian troops are foreigners on Vietnamese soil, are they not? This money was to be sent to support the National Liberation Front ‘in its aim to topple a reactionary regime and remove foreigners from South Vietnamese soil’. The letter 1 received from Monash was wasted because the circular I have quoted proves that the contents of the letter were quite wrong. The circular provided an address to which funds were to be sent - to a gentleman whose name is Magit
I turn now to deal with Mr Francis James. Today he is deeply hurt. He says that all he wanted was to take part in an exercise in Christian compassion; that he just wanted to represent the civilians of both sides. But let us study what Mr James said when the campaign was in full cry and before anybody mentioned the ugly question of treason. In the debate at the University of Melbourne he said: we support aid, not merely civil aid - aid of all kinds. . . .
As to why the aid was to be sent, Mr James said:
The little thing in war time . . . has got damn all to do with what ammunition you have got, what your signals are like or anything of that sort. it is a little thing called morale and it matters first and it matters last and it matters all the time. . . Now this is the first thing we will do when we vote on this resolution for the National Liberation Front. If this house accepts by a substantial majority the resolution brought forward by the government, and if we send a copy of this resolution to the National Liberation Front, whose postal service I can assure the house from my own experience is much superior to that of the Ky government, then, Sir, we are sending aid to the National Liberation Front and it would be disingenuous for me to make it quite clear that that is what is involved ultimately in your vote tonight
Mr James now says that he wanted only to help the Catholic Archbishop of Hanoi and a few others to give aid to sick civilians. 1 might point out also that the disclaimer I received from either Melbourne University or Monash University or both, interested me. It was a Press release on behalf of the Labor Clubs and it came in an envelope embossed ‘Students’ Representative Council, University of Melbourne’. I know that 99% of the students at Melbourne University and other universities are too decent and honourable to have any association with the collection campaign. But they have to pay money, I presume, compulsorily to the Students Representative Council. It intrigues me as to how the stationery for which all students should pay can be used by a small section which is carrying out a campaign to which the overwhelming majority of the students are opposed.
I remember a commentator’s saying: Senator McManus is kicking up a fuss because somebody wants to send two bob to the Vietcong.’ Mr James has said that he sent over $30,000. Monash University, one statement has said, sent about $600 in one instalment, lt may have been $12,000 sent by Mr James.
– He is only a post office.
– But he is a pretty fair sort of a post office. I think the sum of $12,000 was sent by Mr James and $600 was sent in one lot by Monash University. That is approaching a sizeable sum. I want to make the point that I made on a previous occasion. No matter what the sum is, it is just as detestable and just as wrong if two Australian boys are shot with bullets paid for by these people as it would be if 2,000 of them were shot. I remember Senator
Gorton’s quoting one of the Monash students as saying: ‘Well, if an Australian soldier is killed by a bullet with “Monash Labor Club” on it, it is too bad, but we cannot do anything about it.’ He was wrong, because we have been able to do something about it, and that is the legislation before the Senate.
Some people say that the mailer would have been forgotten, and so on. i remind them that the campaign continued for 3) weeks. It was a planned campaign; an exercise in brinkmanship. The people behind the campaign planned to find out how far they could go. They were trying the Government out. lt was no mistake that they decided to start the campaign in a university because anything that happens in a university and is subjected, to attack causes the cry of academic freedom to be raised. A great deal of moral cowardice exists among prominent people in our community once the cry of academic freedom is raised. 1 have observed the Communist Parly in action for 30 years. If these people had got away wilh this campaign with merely a rebuke from one or two people, the next step would have been that the Union of Australian Women - the women’s organisation of the Communist Party - would have started to collect. Then all kinds of trade unions under Communist control or influence would have started to collect and the whole thing would have snowballed into a big campaign of the type that we have seen with regard to Vietnam over the last 2 or 3 years. I laugh at how naive the people were who said that it was only a matter of a few students and that it Would pass over. Once they start these campaigns they go on with them. One of the things that are helping them today is the division of opinion amongst the Communists in this country. Each side is contesting for the right to be regarded as the one that is doing the best job in regard to Vietnam. That is why in cases such as this we see one person after another taking up the campaign and trying to get all the credit, as did Pat Malone, of the builders labourers union and a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party, recently. He went round and got twenty or thirty trade union officials in Melbourne to sign a petition on behalf of their unions protesting at the brutality of the Hong Kong Government towards the Chinese people in that area.
What amazes me is the gullibility of those who fall for these campaigns. When we read the list of the 20 or 30 unionists who signed the petition we find among them the names of four or five members of the central executive of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. When I was an official of the ALP we had on the books a rule which we enforced and under which members of the Party were not permitted to engage with members of the Communist Party in any activity whatsoever. Times have changed.
– lt is still there.
– lt is still there. The only difference is that nobody implements it. There are other people today who are saying that the National Liberation Front is not a Communist Party front, that we are in error in saying that it is. They say that the National Liberation Front is a kind of united front organisation in which there are many shades of opinion and that it is not run by the Communist Party. In the January 1966 issue of ‘Hoc Tap’, the theoretical journal of the North Vietnamese Communist Party, this article appeared:
The partisans of Marxism-Leninism are, in fact, the soul of the NFLSV. It also remarked that the experience of the world and our country’s revolution have shown that in order to win the greatest success, the national democratic revolution must be led by a workers’ revolutionary party. . . The partisans of Marxism-Leninism in the South have clearly noted the need for a thorough revolutionary party to act as a vanguard force for the southern revolution.
While the National Liberation Front might have some friends in Australia who will tell us that it is not a Communist Party organisation, the Communists in North Vietnam are in no doubt whatsoever that it is. Yet we find people who say that they will send any money they can get now to a doctors’ fund run for the National Liberation Fund in London. The thought that occurs to me in relation to these proposals to get round the provisions of the Bill is that if we send money or goods to a country which is under Communist dictatorship there is no way in the world by which we can ensure that that money and those goods will not be used for purposes which the Communist Government thinks best. The Communist Government will lake control of the distribution of the aid and will make it impossible for that aid to be distributed except in the way it wants. If it did not do that, it would not be a Communist government.
People talk of sending money to Hanoi and of getting the Catholic Archbishop of Hanoi to distribute it; yet, according to the Church, he is a prisoner. Anybody who knows Communist countries would realise that the last thing that could ever happen in a Communist country would be for the members of any church to be enabled to do anything that would conciliate the ordinary people as would the handing out of aid. Therefore I point out once again to those people who think that what happened at our universities was just a sporadic stunt or that it was merely a question of someone suddenly thinking of something and there it was, that that is not so. This was merely part of the big propaganda campaign that is working so successfully in this country today. While we are winning the war in Vietnam, we are losing the propaganda war inside Australia.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. *
– Before the suspension of the sitting I pointed out that I was very glad that this legislation had been brought before the Parliament. I also pointed out that the Australian Labor Party had declared its support for the legislation. I then proceeded to examine some of the statements that have been made in this campaign. There is an obvious desire on the part of some of the people who have been most prominent in it to change the grounds that they took up originally and to pretend that they did not have any intentions of the kind that this Bill sets out to prevent. I quoted statements by the Australian National University Labor Club, the Monash University Labor Club and Mr James, all of which indicated an intention to raise money for purposes which could be construed as military help for the Vietcong.
I also pointed out that, in relation to many of these people, suggestions that they were merely immature boys and girls were entirely unjustified. I quoted Dr Cairns, a member of the Australian Labor Party, who said that he personally knew quite a number of these people and that in his opinion they were extremely intelligent people who knew quite well what they were doing. In those circumstances, as we were dealing with people who were quite old enough to know what they were doing - many of them are more than 21 years of age - and who embarked on a campaign of this nature, it was obvious that action had to be taken. Senator Wheeldon has said that in his opinion action was taken because of the initiative of the Democratic Labor Party. If that is so, Senator Gair and I are certainly proud to have represented our Party in calling for this legislation which, judging from the considerable correspondence that I have received, has the backing of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people.
I conclude by making some comments on the matter of peace. Unfortunately many people in Australia and in other countries profess to want peace and say that peace is to be achieved in certain ways, one of which is the holding of demonstrations and the running of campaigns of this kind. My objection to these people is that their attitude appears to be this: T want peace. This is my way of achieving peace. If you do not support my way of achieving peace you do not want peace; you are a warmonger’. I say to them that they should not hold their demonstrations in this country or in the United States because our Governments have shown that they want peace. They have shown that they are prepared to negotiate. They have asked the other side to negotiate. But on each occasion the same answer comes from the people on the other side. It is that they are not prepared to negotiate. Yet we have this propaganda campaign that is designed to give the impression that we are the people who do not want peace. I suggest to the people who conduct this campaign that they go to Hanoi or Peking and do their demonstrating there, because that is where the people who do not want peace are. I am very glad that every party supports this legislation. I hope that it will have a speedy passage through this chamber.
– I rise to support this Bill. I commence by saying that we representatives of the Australian Labor Party form the bulk of the Opposition. The word ‘Australian’ has particular significance. If there is any danger to the race of people on whose behalf we are in this Parliament, we will do whatever is possible to remove that danger. In the belief that some of the money that is collected may be used against the Australian forces, we are prepared to support this Bill. However, we emphasise that it would be a much easier and more just solution of the problem if the Labor Party’s policy were implemented and if Australian troops were not in the dirty war in Vietnam. Our admiration of the Australian people extends to those who are in the Australian Regular Army, those who are conscripted into the Army, the university students, whatever their sins may be, and even those who are misguided enough to join the Liberal Party, the Country Party or the Democratic Labor Party. We hope some day to win those people over to a just and forceful policy.
In discussing this question we should not let our emotions run away with us or try to import into statements something that was never said. As I am the first speaker from the Australian Labor Party after two speakers who are not members of that Party - namely, Senator McManus and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) - it may be necessary for me to reply to some of their remarks. The Minister for Repatriation was very unfair when he referred to the remarks of Senator Wheeldon as an attempt to denigrate Australian soldiers. There was nothing in Senator Wheeldon’s remarks that would justify such an accusation. If his remarks were a denigration of anyone, they were a denigration of the Government. The word ‘conscript’ is an accurate description of the way in which certain members of the armed forces are called up. The use of the word ‘conscript’ is a condemnation of the Government rather than of any section of soldiers. We use the word proudly to show that the Government has to use force because of its lack of policy; that these soldiers are fighting in a conflict that has not popular support; and that reactionary legislation is necessary to conscript men into the Army to fight these battles in which this Government seems to become embroiled.
– So members of the Opposition proceed to insult the soldiers in order to get back at the Government.
– No. We proceed to use the correct word ‘conscript’. It is used purely for the purpose of insulting the Government and to show what the Government has to do in order to get people into the armed forces.
I come now to the subject of the university students and the collection of contributions. No attempt has ever been made to probe what is in the minds of the university students in respect of what they are doing at the present time. We could be on the road to the introduction of some Fascist legislation or legislation restricting the freedom of the individual. Because something with which the Government does not agree is happening, it finds a remedy in the introduction of legislation such as that now before the Senate. This is not anything new. In a speech in this chamber on 23rd March last year, I stated that the Government intended to send troops to Vietnam as a fighting unit and that this was the first occasion on which Australians had become involved in a conflict which did not have the unanimous support of the Australian people or in respect of which there was not a section of the Australian people which did not owe some friendship or allegiance to what the Government terms the enemy. I said on that occasion that although in the initial stages of the Second World War some were opposed to sending troops overseas, their opposition did not stem from any love or friendship for Hitler’s regime.
On this occasion there is a genuine belief that the conflict in Vietnam is a civil war by a liberation army which is fighting for the freedom of its country and which had carried on the fight for 25 years against the French. I stated then that it was believed by some that the fight was for the freedom of the Vietnamese people. This was not an isolated opinion; it was supported by mass demonstrations, however much we may criticise that means of protest. This view was shared by most teachers of political science and political history in the universities. Possibly the university professors have been as strong as any other section of the community in their condemnation of action taken by America and Australia. The opposition to Australia’s participation in the Vietnam war has been led by the academics and the churches and that opposition has been intensified among both those sections of the community.
– And the Communists.
– The Minister can see a Communist behind every bush and in every statement that is made. With him everything is ‘and the Communists’. He gives the Communists credit for having much more influence than they actually have. Until the subject of aid for North Vietnam was raised in this place only a few dollars had been contributed to the fund. Senator McManus, who takes the praise for raising this subject, looks under the bed every night to see if there is a Communist spy in his bedroom.
– That is pretty weak, is it not?
– It is an old one.
– The honourable senator can do better than that.
– It merely shows the extent to which the honourable senator has this phobia about Communism. He gives the Communists credit for being able to organise the academics and suggests that they are largely responsible for organising those church leaders who are protesting. He suggests that they can raise huge sums of money and organise large sections of the trade union movement. No matter what his political allegiances are, anyone who believes that the conflict in Vietnam is a civil war of liberation cannot do other than hope for the defeat of the invading forces.
When speaking in the Budget debate on 31st August I mentioned the situation in Vietnam and said that the United States role in that country has changed from what it may have been originally and that the cause is now the preservation of American prestige. Anyone who believes that the conflict in Vietnam may result in the termination of the military might which has threatened that small nation and anyone who hopes that one day political reasonableness may take over from political might must hope that the invading forces will be driven out of Vietnam. Anyone who has any humanitarianism, who knows of the use of napalm bombs and has seen evidence of the horrors of those bombs inflicted on innocent women and children, could not hope otherwise.
– What about the Vietcong? Let us have something about them.
– The Minister, in his haughty way, justifies these horrors and wrongs because someone else is committing them. At no time have I justified atrocities, although on many occasions I have heard of what the Vietcong has done. Let the Minister stand up and say that he is proud of the use of napalm bombs.
– I have not said anything of the kind.
– I have not suggested he has said so. If he can justify the use of napalm bombs because someone else has used them, let him do so. Figures are available to show that these bombs are being used today. We have seen photographs of children, victims of the napalm bombs, the skin on whose faces had melted. How can members of the church who believe in a God of peace, who believe that thou shalt not kill, do other than create among university students the attitude which has been created? As I said in my opening remarks, the Labor Party supports the legislation in the belief that there is a danger of Australian lives being affected. But let us examine the Bill to see how far it goes in relation to what we are doing in this conflict.
First I should point out that very little was collected to be sent as aid to North Vietnam. We have heard of the great contributions which have been made to this cause after the urgency motion was introduced in the Senate. Representatives of the Press were very eager for the publicity on that occasion and came out with big headlines next day. Then we heard that $20,000 or $30,000 had been collected towards this fund. It has been suggested that it is wrong to collect aid for North Vietnam. Those who take the credit for introducing this question and moving the Government to introduce this Bill have done more in a few weeks to assist this fund than was ever done before. It is still legal to send aid to the Vietcong at the present time.
It is common knowledge that the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) was not keen to introduce this legislation, the interpretation of which I believe will become a legal man’s paradise. For the first time we have a Bill for an Act for the protection of the defence force in respect of it’s operations in or near Vietnam. Why has such a measure been introduced on only this occasion? If there is a danger to Australian forces engaged in any conflict, why should we not have permanent legislation which will remove this danger for all time? The conflict in Vietnam is peculiar in that there has been no declaration of war. We do not know who our enemy is. Senator McManus has said that the National Liberation Front and the North Vietnamese Government are one and the same body, yet they are separated in the legislation. la this measure the Government recognises for the first time the existence of the North Vietnam Government, the Communist Party of North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front. Having recognised that in this legislation, why is it not prepared to recognise them for the purpose of negotiating peace? If we recognise the National Liberation Front in this Bill, why do we. not insist upon its recognition as one of the combatants in the conflict who should be at the peace table discussing this question.
The Labor Party makes it .one of its conditions that the National Liberation Front shall be recognised as a party to negotiations and states that otherwise our troops shall come home, but that is opposed by the Government. In referring to the Bill it is possible that I shall raise matters on which I shall speak again at the committee stage, but I raise them now so that the Minister will have notice of the matters that I intend to raise later. I ask the Senate to consider clause 3 of the Bill which makes it an offence for a person to contribute, to give money or goods to a person, to collect or receive money or goods, or to solicit the contributing or giving of money or goods with a view to money or other financial assistance or goods being made available for the assistance of those opposed to our forces. I shall return to that later. This clause departs from the verbiage of the Crimes Act and departs from verbiage which is usual in legislation which passes through this House.
No longer does die law apply only to a person who knowingly gives money to forces opposing our troops; now it applies to a person who gives money with a view to that money giving assistance to opposing forces. What is the legal interpretation of with a view to’? 1 am told that ‘wilh a view to’ means that one has knowledge that the money is going to a certain cause. Why has the Government not used the verbiage that was used in other legislation? Does this legislation go further? Do we need legislation which makes it an offence for anyone to give money which will be used against Australian forces? While it is an offence to collect money or goods with a view to money or other financial assistance or goods being made available for the assistance of forces opposing us, we find it is also an offence to contribute or give money or goods which may benefit the forces opposing us. We cannot give money or goods to the specified organisations and we cannot have money or goods taken to them. Those organisations are listed in the Bill as follows: 3. (c) the government of the country known as ‘the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’-
Why are the words ‘known as the “ Democratic Republic of Vietnam “ ‘ used? Known by whom’’ That is one interpretation which must be settled. The clause goes on:
the body known as ‘Dang Lao Dong Vietnam’ or as ‘the Communist Party of North Vietnam’;
the body known as ‘the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam’; (0 a body established outside Australia’-
That is, if we sent it direct - a class of persons resident outside Australia or a person resident outside Australia for the time being specified by Proclamation as a body or class of persons in relation to which, or a person in relation to whom, this paragraph applies, being a body, class of persons or person -
Therefore we come to the point where it is an offence to contribute anything to a person or body outside Australia if that money is likely to be used by an organisation likely to be opposed to any part of the defence force in operations in or near Vietnam. However, the danger lies in the fact that statements in the summons of a defendant under this Act are evidence of proof. Therefore if someone unwittingly gives 20c to a cause and on the surface it appears that the 20c will go to Vietnam, the defendant has to show that the money is going to a body that is unlikely to bc opposed to any part of the defence force in Vietnam. Are we building up possible causes of action against defendants?
The Government is very liberal in its attitude and says: ‘We do not mind dissent; we do not mind criticism of Australia’s involvement’. But surely it is intimidating everyone not only in relation to the collection of money but also in relation to contributing and soliciting. Not only must one be sure that the money is not going to be used against any part of the defence force in Vietnam; one must also be able lc prove to a court that the money is not going to be used against any part of the defence force in Vietnam. Who knows what will become of the money that may bc sent to the British Quakers or to some other organisation?
– 1 do not think any averment in the information has the effect the honourable senator attributes to it.
– We find it in clause 8. I am not referring to averment which is proof; 1 am referring to the summons which is evidence. I cannot afford the time to go into this aspect in detail so I must leave that to the committee stage. However, clause 8 is in these terms: (1.) In a prosecution for an offence against this Act, a recital in a Proclamation under this Act of a matter is evidence that the matter recited was a fact at the date of the making of the Proclamation and at all subsequent times while the Proclamation remained unrevoked. (2.) In a prosecution for an offence against this Act, the averment of the prosecutor contained in the indictment, information or complaint that-
I remind the Senate of the provisions of clause 3 (f) which relates to a body established outside Australia, a class of persons resident outside Australia or a person resident outside Australia for the time being specified by proclamation, in which case sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) of the clause are applicable.
This raises the question of how far we are going in relation to donations which are solicited for the assistance of Vietnam. As I have stated, 1 shall deal with that matter at the committee stage but let me say now that although honourable senators opposite may cast reflections on Dr Cairns’ statement about the educational qualifications of university students, and although they may cast reflections on the excitable and emotional natures of university students, they are not criminals until we make them criminals by this legislation. They are not a criminal element in our society. When we find men who are courageously following their beliefs, however misinformed they may be, we must be very careful that we do not drive them into a criminal element by our restrictive legislation without any benefits accruing to those whom we seek to benefit by it.
– A very weak argument.
– Is there anything to prevent us giving humane assistance in the form of medical supplies and so on wherever it is needed? Surely we do not refuse medical assistance to our worst enemy if he is injured or ill.
– We are not doing that.
– The Government is doing that because it has imposed a qualification that the assistance must follow certain channels.
Now let me deal with civilian aid. There is a body of opinion which believes that neither Australia nor America should be involved in this war. Despite what Senator Branson said either this afternoon or yesterday, the American Secretary of State, Mr McNamara, has said that the bombing of North Vietnam is not contributing towards getting the parties to the peace table, nor is it assisting in the defeat of the Vietcong although it is a morale booster for the forces of South Vietnam. As I have said, there are people who believe that the bombing of North Vietnam is wrong. The Monash University students are opposed to it and they feel an obligation to try to repair the damage that has been done in North Vietnam as a result of the incorrect actions of the Government which we have condoned. Has anyone any opposition to civilian aid going to North Vietnam?
Let us face the facts relating to our involvement in Vietnam. The results of the last election showed that some 42% of the Australian people were opposed to our involvement because that percentage of the Australian people voted against the Government. We believe that the percentage of people opposed to our involvement in Vietnam is growing and I think that belief is supported somewhat by gallup polls. That is the whole position. We must recognise the right of those individuals to differ with us other than in verbiage, other than in resolutions, other than in demonstrations. If they want to show their opposition to the war and their support of a cause by some contribution, let us see that we make the contribution as harmless as possible to our troops who are involved in the area. If we do not take the resolute action of withdrawing troops from the area let us see whether we cannot give these people more opportunity to express their opposition by directing their forces and finances into channels of which we can approve.
As has been stated by interjection, the Bill can become operative only with the approval of a Minister of the Crown, namely, the Attorney-General. Although we are supporting the Bill, let us see that before we put it into operation we make doubly sure that every avenue is explored to see that we are not doing damage to the cause of freedom that we represent. As I said before, where there is a possibility of Australian lives being injured through some contribution that may go from Australia, we support action to prevent it. If we believed, as Senator Wheeldon has very pertinently pointed out, that China represented any danger to Australia or to Australian military personnel we would not be sending supplies to China at the present time. I accept the Minister’s argument in his attempt to escape from the accusation in relation to China, that the steel being exported is of a particular type, and that the Chinese would get wheat from somewhere other than Australia. This does not help the position. North Vietnam has been recognised as an enemy and a restriction has been put on the provision to North Vietnam of all but humanitarian aid in the form of medical supplies. While the Government says that China is a bigger enemy of the forces of Australia, it does not see fit to put similar restrictions on exports to China.
This shows some inconsistency on the part of the Government, in the view of the Opposition. We ask the Government to reconsider the whole question. I am firmly of the belief that as a result of the elections in South Vietnam last week - not because of the result of the elections but because the elections were held - there may be some early moves for a settlement in Vietnam. If my prognostications are correct I hope and wish that the Government will be at the forefront of a move in this direction so that we may have returned to Australia those lads whom we admire, whose fighting ability and courage we do not denigrate but who, we say, should not be in that area at the present time.
– I believe it fair and just to say that Senator Cavanagh is possibly the best read senator in the Opposition on the Australian Labor Party’s foreign policy. I believe that he speaks after great consideration and with sincerity. However, I do not intend to be led by his speech into a discussion on the foreign policy of Australia, be it the Government’s or the Opposition’s, because the Senate is discussing a Bill the like of which, 1 should think, we have not seen before. If a senator undertook a study of the type of legislation that he might be asked to discuss and vote on in this Parliament he would never in his wildest dreams think that he would be asked to discuss and vote on a Bill which is, in the words of the title of this Bill, for the protection of the defence force in respect of its operations in or near Vietnam. Whether or not one likes Australia’s involvement in Vietnam there is only one measuring stick: Is it necessary to put onto the statute book of Australia legislation that will enable the courts of this country to punish people who help Australia’s enemies?
This legislation is not to protect Australia’s servicemen abroad from an overseas enemy. It is not to protect the defence force from itself. It is not solely to protect the defence force from university students. It is to protect the defence force from any Australians who will take, aid, abet or incite any action that will help the known, well defined, realised and treacherous enemies of our nation. I believe the root causes that have culminated in the necessity for this legislation lie in the fact that academics in some spheres, politicians in other spheres, and other people, have since our involvement in Vietnam been very busily inciting others to join thom in protests.
One would be blind to the facts of life if he did not believe that Australia and, I believe, the United States of America, and the people of those countries, are in a way divided on their country’s involvement in Vietnam. But the situation in Australia is that in two elections the people have shown by their votes at the ballot box that they want to retain in power the Government that committed on Australia’s behalf Australian forces in Vietnam. Let there be no argument about the fact that the majority of the people have had two opportunities to vote and have returned to power the Government that committed Australian servicemen - national servicemen, Australian Regular Army personnel, and other arms of the Services- to serve in Vietnam. But we have, as is often the case, a noisy, vocal minority. Because these people are noisy, because they are taking a new line and because they are led by publicity seekers, they have < news value and so they hit the headlines and the television screens. Paperbacks and pamphlets are published about them, and the feeling gets abroad that a comparatively large percentage of the Australian people are against our involvement in Vietnam. I do not believe this to be true.
It cannot be denied that leader.; of the Australian Labor Party incited the people of Australia, particularly young people, to demonstrate against. Air Vice-Marshal Ky, and it cannot be denied that they were happy when some few misguided people tried to demonstrate against the President of the United States when he came to Australia. So these young people who demonstrated can say that leaders in the community have aided, abetted and incited them to make these protests, and the protests have increased in number and in fervour. They have increased to such a point that those taking part and those watching have definitely been put in fear of physical harm. The Australian Labor Party must accept a lot of responsibility for this.
I do not think it is stretching the imagination to say that when the history of this era in the development of Australia comes to be written, the writers will refer to the era as a time of dissent, protest and demonstration. If the Government had been defeated at the last election I believe that there would have been grave fear of a type of mob rule getting a hold in this country. I have said that the facts reveal that in Australia we are divided and that the noisy minority is creating the wrong impression. Those people who are in favour of the Government and Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, apart from voting at the polling booths and returning this Government to power, have remained quiet. They do not want to become involved in protests. Therefore the young people do not realise that they are being led along the wrong path - a path that is dangerous to themselves and to the future of Australia. There are very few people, if any, who would stand up and say willingly that they are pleased that young Australian men have been called up for national service and sent to serve in Vietnam. None of us is happy about it. But we who have weighed the case fairly and who realise our responsibilities have been prepared to say that this was the right decision for Australia’s security and for the meeting of our commitments.
The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), when introducing this Bill, rightly made it clear that the Government recognised the right of Australians to dissent and to criticise. This right is not being taken away from the people by this Bill. But it is the duty of a government and of a national parliament, while agreeing that there may be dissent and criticism, to guard against treason. Surely treason to one’s country is the worst crime in the book. So this legislation is aimed, purely and simply, at preventing Australians helping the clearly defined enemies of Australia. Senator Cavanagh questioned the wisdom of naming Vietnam in the Bill. He implied that it would be better to include in the statute book words to the effect that it would be a crime for any Australian to help the enemy whenever Australia was in conflict. Some of us hope that the publicity that has been given to the distasteful events that led to the framing of this legislation will make such measures unnecessary in the future if we ever again become involved in a conflict. It may be that there will be no need to have on the statute book a law to protect Australia’s defence forces serving this country overseas. We hope so. I believe it right that the Government should write into this Bill exactly where it means its provisions to take effect.
The activity to which this legislation is directed and which has made it imperative raises three problems. Firstly, I believe that - it must have a harmful effect on the morale of our troops overseas. Surely, to do anything to destroy the morale of people serving us in a foreign land is the lowest thing that we back in Australia can do. I know of this from my own experience in the Signal Corps in the Middle East during World War II. Any upsetting happening in Australia worried the troops if news of it leaked through. It may be that in Vietnam our troops are not getting much Australian news. I do not know. But during the Second World War Lord Haw Haw, whom I hope every member of this Parliament despised, was able to spread his poisonous radio propaganda to Australian and other allied troops. I presume that Hanoi and Peking have the same type of broadcasts beamed at Australian troops.
The second problem is that happenings such as this within Australia are flashed across the world and through propaganda media are used as ammunition - I use the word deliberately - against Australian servicemen. Particularly is this true of announcements such as that mentioned in this debate that efforts would be made to raise money to give help without any conditions attached. The third harmful effect of this type of activity is that it must raise the morale of the enemy troops fighting the Australians. No person who has been to war or who has read of war would countenance anyone knowingly attempting to raise the morale of the enemy.
I believe that this Bill has been carefully phrased. The Minister emphasised that the protection sought is not against any enemy forces in Vietnam but against the actions of any persons in Australia seeking to send assistance to those enemy forces. This is clear cut. I believe I have given reasons why this legislation is necessary. In what can fairly be described as a half-hearted manner, the Opposition has indicated that it will support the measure but regrets its necessity; it regrets the framework of the Bill. Opposition speakers have aimed bitter criticism at the Government for our involvement in Vietnam. Then the Opposition has tried to ridicule the action of the Government in introducing a law to prevent these people from saying that some of the help is insignificant. Let me quote from the speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), because I believe his statement to be quite correct. He said:
If some group, however small and insignificant, can do this with impunity-
That is, subscribe money to help an enemy - then other groups could do the same. If university students can do this with impunity, then any Australian can do the same. It is a principle which cannot bc allowed acceptance.
That is why I said, in my opening remarks, that the Bill is not aimed at university students in particular; it is aimed at anyone in Australia who takes any action that comes within the scope of the legislation under discussion.
I am glad that in framing the legislation the Government has taken particular care to include as guilty people those who in any way incite, urge, encourage or who print or publish any matter that incites anyone in Australia to help the enemy. That emphasises that the legislation cannot fairly be said to be aimed at university students. It is most unfortunate that the impression has been given that the idea of raising money to help the Vietcong originated within the universities. I do not believe that the idea originated within the universities. I believe that some misguided but politically enthusiastic university students - I do not call them immature or anything like that - are unknowingly being used as the tools of international Communism.
It has been said that certain senators see a Communist behind every tree. I do not. I would be very loath to infer, without absolute proof, that any person was a Communist. To be a Communist should bc a crime. I believe that the more publicity that is given in Australia to the division of opinion in respect of our involvement in Vietnam, the more encouragement is given to the slow, gradual growth of the influence of international Communism in this country. I believe that with the great growth of universities and university population in Australia in the last few years international Communism and the spreaders of its foul doctrine have found fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of discontent. Ninety per cent or more of university students in Australia are embarrassed and disgusted with the actions of comparatively few people who are receiving widespread publicity. I hope that throughout Australia and in this Parliament a lack of faith and trust in the university students of Australia will not arise, because of misguided actions and feeling. After all, the university students should become the leaders of tomorrow in many spheres of activity - in the professions, in the Parliament and other places. I trust that they will not be leaders who will be known to rise and ask fellow Australians to take action against Australia’s declared and known enemy.
I conclude by emphasising to the Senate that the Bill contains a clause that the Act shall be repealed when our involvement in Vietnam ceases. I end with the hope that the Bill, as an Act of this Parliament, will not be long in force. I give the measure my very full support. I am not half hearted, as is the Opposition, which will be found voting with the Government tonight.
– I want to emphasise that I, like other members of the Opposition in the Senate and in another place, support the legislation. We do so because we agree with every measure that is designed to protect our armed Services in Vietnam and elsewhere, although we have stressed that we do not agree with the Government’s policy in relation to Vietnam. We have stressed this fact not only recently but also when Mr Arthur Calwell was Leader of the Opposition. In 1965 the then Prime Minister, Sir
Robert Menzies, announced the . Government’s intention to send troops to Vietnam. Before then the Government had sent advisers to Vietnam. At that time we emphasised that the policy of the Australian Labor Party was that the sending of troops to Vietnam was a mistake. We still say the same thing. To understand the point of view of the Australian Labor Party and the point of view of the people whom we arc protecting and about whom we are talking, that is the people who are engaged in wide controversy and dissent from the Government’s policy, one has to realise the history of the Government’s policy. I know that the Government now accepts the fact that there can be wide disagreement with the policy of the Government. That fact is stated in the second reading speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), yet in the Senate members of the Government and Ministers have complained because some members of the Australian Labor Party, including Senator Wheeldon, went out into the community and actively campaigned against the Government’s policy. Why should they not compaign against the Government’s policy? The Minister accepts such a right as being one of the requirements of a democracy. Why should honourable senators opposite complain about members of the Australian Labor Party and other people doing these things? Why should honourable senators opposite criticise young people who are doing it? Those young people might be misguided in relation to the people whom the Government is trying tq protect.
The question of trade with China has been mentioned. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Liberal Party have decided what are to be the issues at the forthcoming Senate election; they have mentioned Vietnam and the Australian Labor Party’s policy. But it has been clear from criticisms in this Parliament and attacks by the Government on the Australian Labor Party’s policy that this compaign is going to be a heresy hunt. 1 want to state very quickly and briefly the point of view not only of the Australian Labor Party but of people outside the Parliament who are wondering what the policy of the Government is and where the logic in its attitude in relation to trade with China is. While the Government talks about the grave question of Chinese Communism, and the Government associates Chinese Communism with North Vietnam, the Government names particular people in thi? legislation. The Government of North Vietnam, the Communist Party and the National Liberation Front are all named. The Government and each of its Ministers in the Senate, and in the Parliament generally, in the past have argued that these people are connected with Chinese Communism. I will make some references to these statements at a later time. To explain the position of young people who are confused and opposed to the Government’s policy, one has to look at the policy of the Liberal Party. What has it been? In the first place this Government tried to defend the old regime when Diem was in power in South Vietnam. Prime Minister Menzies, as he then was, said that Diem was a fine little fellow. But the Khanh military junta described Diem as a traitor and tyrant and revolted against his regime. Later, Khanh himself was deposed. Later on when Labor said that it was necessary to have a form of political democracy in Vietnam to defeat Communism and the insurgency amongst the peasants, Minister after Minister said: ‘No, you cannot have this type of Government. You have to defeat the enemy first.’ Belatedly they now turn about and say: ‘There are signs of political democracy at work.’ All along the line the Government has acted belatedly and retrospectively. Generally the Government has adopted the American position, whatever it has been, in the past. As a result, the Australian people have become confused. As Senator Marriott has said, Government supporters can argue that at the last elections the Government gained some general electoral support. However, a lot of it came from the great movie stunt of bringing out President Johnson. That great stunt cost the Australian Government and the Australian people about $140,000. It was a great political stunt and the people were confused and misled by it.
I have described the background to the Government’s current actions and two policies on China. After creating confusion as I have described, the situation arises in which the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and Ministers of the Government say: ‘We have to learn to accommodate China.’ They defend trade with China. They defended trade with North Vietnam when we traded with that country in the early part of last year. At the same time the Americans were bombing Haiphong, the North Vietnamese port to which British ships were carrying goods. Is it any wonder that there is confusion among our young people? Statements of Ministers about Asia are causing complete confusion because we do not know what they mean.
I wish to quote the words of Senator Gorton in the Hansard report of 23rd March 1965 of a debate in the Senate on international affairs. He said:
The immediate effect of the new power of Communist China has been felt not in any war that China itself is waging as an identifiable combatant - although in Tibet and the Indian frontier China was the actual aggressor - but in numerous trouble spots in several continents. . . . Let us test this by the case of South Vietnam. Chou En-lai has described the National Liberation Front as ‘the glorious standard bearer and illustrious leader of the South Vietnamese people in their struggle for national liberation’. This description of the war in South Vietnam as ‘a struggle for national liberation’ has to be read in the context of Chinese Communist doctrine. In the exchange of open letters between Moscow and Peking, China’s view in support of warfare and armed struggle is clearly expressed. I quote from several texts: Until the imperialist system and the exploiting classes come to an end, wars of one kind or another will always occur1; ‘War is the continuation of politics by other means’;
Recently Senator Gorton defended Australia’s trade with Communist China and said that the Government’s policies can be reconciled. On 8th March 1966 Senator Henty said in a statement of the Government’s policy, as reported in Hansard:
This is no civil war. It is the principal present manifestation of the expansionist activities of Communist China. These activities are channelled through, and directed from, Hanoi. All the countries in South East Asia are facing the threat of Communist China’s expansion in one form or another. In Laos, for example, there is fighting between Chinese supplied Pathet Lao, or Communist forces, and the forces of the Government.
On 22nd March 1966 Senator Gorton said in a statement on international affairs in the Senate:
What threatens this freedom and independence and what dims their hope for the future is the dread of domination by the new imperialism of China and the throttling grip of Communist aggressors. It is the Communists who have themselves announced their plans. Are these so-called liberation fronts - the National Liberation Front of Vietnam, the Malaysian Liberation Front or the Thailand Liberation Front, all of whom have lodging and blessing in Peking - created to ensure that the peoples of Asia will be free to choose for themselves? Of course not. They have been formed and dedicated to the purpose of bringing these countries, without free choice, under Communist rule.
At various times the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has made conflicting statements, just as the Prime Minister is doing today, about the need to accommodate Communist China. Only a few days ago Senator Henty referred to waiting for the revisionists to take over in Communist China. Very shortly after that a Government supporter said: ‘Of course the trade is from Communist China.’ On 23rd March 1965 Mr Hasluck said in a statement of Australia’s foreign policy: . . but the cause for concern is that China has repeatedly spoken and acted in a way that reveals an aggressive intention to try to dominate the life of other nations, a readiness to achieve her purposes by any means at her command, and an unwillingness to contemplate peaceful relationsships with other great powers except on her own terms. In the hands of such a nation, nuclear weapons become more dangerous and the prospect of nuclear control or disarmament less hopeful.
I put it to honourable senators that the majority of the Australian people have the same point of view as the Opposition. It may be that because of a gimmick or electoral device the Government enjoys brief electoral support, but wide sections of the Australian community, including a number of young people who may have been dragged into making donations to enemy forces, are confused by the Government’s policy. It is a confused policy. The Government will challenge the Labor Party during the Senate election campaign on the question of its defence policy and its policy on Vietnam. Labor, in order to get its message across, must depend largely on the faithful reporting of the Press. If our message has got across to the people, surely they can see the anomaly and the paradox in the Government’s policies. How can the Government claim that the defeats in South Vietnam through the invasion of the South, as the Government has it, are by the Communist Party from North Vietnam, supported by Communist China, and at the same time set up a regular trade relationship with China to last over many years?
– Trade in many materials.
– Yes. The materials shipped to China can of course be used as part of military machines. But even if that were not so, as Senator McManus has said. these materials - wheat and other products - are helping Communist China to establish a strong economic force. I want to make it clear that we do not always agree with the policies of the Government. We believe in trade with Communist China and we say to the Government: ‘What is your policy in this situation?’ The Democratic Labor Party has made its policy clear, but the strange thing is that it does not always pursue it in this Parliament. The DLP senators have made it clear that the products we ship to China are helping to form the basis of the military machine there. It is sensible reasoning from their point of view. They claim further that the Government is wrong in forming and keeping to its policy. The Government seeks the support of the DLP on most of its measures in criticising the Labor Party’s foreign policy. The Government always throws out a bait in the Parliament, particularly in the Senate, to get the DLP senators to criticise Labor speakers who complain about the Government’s policy. The Government throws out the bait, but has two policies itself. There is no rationale; there is no logic in the policy of the Liberal Government. It is clear that logically the Government should not form a regular trade relationship with China while its Ministers are saying that it is plain that Communist China is the source of danger to this nation.
This is the basis of the confusion of many of our young people. No Government supporter can claim fairly that any member of the Opposition, here or in another place, has opposed the form of legislation now before the Senate. However, we want to make it completely clear that we think the Government’s policy is bad; it is confused and dishonest. If the Government was honest in its contention that Chinese Communism is the source of the thrust south and of the agitation in Vietnam and elsewhere, it would take measures against China. Instead, we find established a relationship pursuant to which we are selling millions upon millions of dollars worth of goods, including steel and wheat to the Chinese and are taking from them huge quantities of materials which in many cases compete with the products of Australian workmen. I submit that Government speakers ought to explain to the Senate what their policy is with relation to these matters.
The Bill has been introduced belatedly. I think it is fair to say that but for the criticism that was levelled against it by Senator Gair and Senator McManus the Government would have dilly-dallied still further. Senator Henty told us some weeks ago that the situation was not good. Was this measure introduced as a device for attacking the Labor Party, or was it introduced genuinely in the interests of justice? We of the Labor Party have no hesitation about agreeing with what Mr Calwell said when he was our Leader and what Mr Whitlam has said on many occasions. We have made it clear that while our troops are in Vietnam we will do our utmost to protect them. Nobody in this Parliament can say that any Labor speaker has been slow to advocate that every possible benefit be made available to these men. We have repeatedly fought for increased repatriation benefits for our ex-servicemen, and we will continue to do so. I. leave the matter there in the hope that some of the remaining Government speakers will try to reply to some of the points that we on this side have raised.
– -I am particularly pleased to support the Defence Force Protection Bill, which has been introduced in this chamber after having been passed by the House of Representatives. I have been interested in the various propositions that have been submitted by members of the Australian Labor Party during the debate. After endeavouring vainly to find some fault in the Bill, they have finally admitted that they support the proposal put forward by the Government, although they have foreshadowed an amendment. I note with interest that the argument advanced by the Opposition has been put by speakers who might be considered to be the back benchers of the Labor Party. I do not know whether there is any significance in the fact that neither the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) nor the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) has entered into this debate so far. I appreciate the difficult position in which members of the Opposition find themselves in having to admit that, as good Australians, which undoubtedly most of them are, they must support this legislation.
– ‘Would the honourable senator like to qualify that word ‘most’?
– No. I leave it to the honourable senator to speak after I have spoken.
– It is a slur on the Opposition.
– I have heard the honourable senator cast slurs on one or two occasions before this. The Government has found it necessary to introduce this legislation to prohibit the raising of funds to be sent to Vietnam to assist our enemy. If Senator Willesee wishes to argue against the measure, let him do so, but I make the point that nobody can raise any logical argument against the proposition. Some, of course, will attempt to do so. Whether Senator Willesee will attempt to do so I leave to his own conscience.
I regret that the incident which gave rise to this legislation has been given such publicity. I do not agree with the claims made by the leaders of another political party that they were the ones who prompted the Government to take action. It is my belief that every Australian citizen would wish to protect Australian servicemen who are fighting overseas in a cause which is supported both by the Government and the great majority of the people in this democratic country. Much was made of the fact that one member of the community had stated that if money which he had contributed had by some misfortune assisted in providing a bullet that might kill or injure an Australian serviceman, that would be just bad luck. In my view the average citizen would believe that only a person who was not fully possessed of all his faculties would make a statement such as that. The statement reflects not only on the person who uttered it but on all those who would support him in that opinion.
The Prime Minister, realising the seriousness of the matter, wisely decided that steps should be taken to prevent the spread of such activities. When introducing the Bill, the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) stated that the Crimes Act was not applicable to this matter, and therefore this measure had to be introduced. The Bill sets out the bodies to which money must not be sent. It prohibits the collection of or the seeking of money in the way in which funds have been sought in university grounds. The Bill also provides that persons who incite, urge, aid or encourage or who print or publish any paper that incites, urges, aids or encourages the raising of funds for these purposes shall be dealt with.
I am particularly pleased to note that all honourable senators support the Bill. It is interesting to note that things which would not have been tolerated previously are happening in the community today. I mention, for example, the way in which people exercised their right to demonstrate in opposition to the visit of Air ViceMarshal Ky and his philosophies. On that occasion, the members of certain political parties mingled with people who carried Vietcong flags. Again, when Hiroshima Day was being commemorated here members of certain political parties were quite happy to mingle with people who carried Vietcong flags. I wonder what the position would have been as from 1939 if somebody in our community had wished to carry a Nazi flag down any street of any major town. What would have been the position as from 1941 if anybody had been willing to carry a Japanese flag down the street? I know that these comments incite some honourable senators opposite. Perhaps Senator Willesee, who is to follow me in this debate, will be able to make some comments in reply. I suggest that what I have referred to is the last thing that honourable senators opposite would have wanted to see in our community when we had men overseas. I agree that at that time there were in our community bodies that said that Australian troops should not have been overseas even then.
– That did not worry the anti-Labor Government in 1941, did it?
– I am discussing this matter in relation to the fact that within our community there are some people who will say that these things should be allowed. But that attitude is reaching the extreme when people condone or encourage by raising funds to do what this Bill seeks to prevent. Some peculiar statements have been made about the Vietnam conflict.
– My word they have; for example, by McNamara.
– This surprises me. I just draw attention to the facts. I understand that the Labor Party must appear to be the Opposition. But let it justify to me why it takes the action that it does. When has any member of the Opposition mentioned what is happening in North Vietnam and what has been done by the Vietcong - the kidnapping and the slaughter? In my time in this Parliament I have never heard the Opposition criticise those things once. But members of the Opposition stand up and criticise the Australian position in Vietnam and what they call the American interference. They are always criticising what Australia and the United States are doing. But not once have I heard them criticise the North Vietnamese interference in South Vietnam.
– Does the the honourable senator want an answer to that?
– What is it?
– That members of the Government parties claim and always have claimed a monopoly of patriotism and criticism.
– I do not think that is an answer to the point that I raised. I thought Senator Ormonde might have pointed out an instance in which one of his colleagues had risen in his place and said: We oppose what the Americans are doing and we oppose Australian interference in Vietnam, but we deplore the aggression from the North into the South, which we know is a fact.’
– The honourable senator is one-eyed on that.
– If that is so, I will be very pleased if Senator Ormonde can point out a statement which has been made in this chamber and in which there has been criticism of our enemy at the present time. A democratic election has been conducted in South Vietnam. This is a very marvellous thing.
– Has the honourable senator read what is stated in tonight’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ about the election being a democratic one?
– I know that members of the Opposition will use every point and agree with every comment that will be made in order to show that this is not a democratic election; that the election is not true; and that there has been some crooked dealing. But they will not say a word about what should take place in North Vietnam, a Communist dominated country. They will accept the position that that country should never have elections. They will never say a word about it. I point out these matters only because I believe that members of the Opposition should be fair. I believe that the Labor Party is a fair, representative Australian party. But it has taken a one sided view of this matter. I do not give it any credit for that. I believe that members of the Opposition will agree that what Australia and the United States are endeavouring to do is to bring some stability to this area. If there is any country in the area that wishes that stability more than Australia does, I should like to know what it is. I am very pleased that in the the case of this Bill-
– The French were in the country for at least 100 years and milked the people the whole of the time they were there.
– I am glad to hear the honourable senator falk about that. It brings me to the comments that I wish to make about trade. The main argument that members of the Opposition have raised in this debate has been along these lines: ‘We agree that collections should not be made for the Vietcong or the opposition to the Australian forces; but look at what the Australian Government is doing. It is allowing trade with China’.
– There is inconsistency.
– They say that there is inconsistency. We should consider that argument because many people in the community listen to the words of members of the Opposition and unless they give some of the facts they are likely to influence some people to think that way. I do not think they have influenced many people to think that way up to now. But it is good for us to look at some of the facts and to see whether the argument is correct. I wonder where we senators stand. I believe that there is only one political party that says that there should be no trade with China. I do not hear any member of the Opposition say that there should not be trade with China.
– We believe in it.
– All right; members of the Opposition believe in trade with China. That should be made known. Undoubtedly they believe in it to a degree. I do not think they would agree with trade with China in strategic materials.
– No. Would the honourable senator? Is not steel a strategic material?
– Let us be truthful about the trade in steel. I doubt whether members of the Opposition, as good Australians, would believe in trade with China in strategic materials. But they agree with trade with China, just as the Government does. Only one political party says that there should be no trade with China. But, although members of that party say that, they have not responsibility for the government of this country. I venture to say that, as they probably realise, they are unlikely ever to have to accept that responsibility. If we say that there should be no trade with China, what will be done? What will that mean to China? Will it mean anything to China? If we were to say: *We will stop trade with China immediately because it is our enemy’, in my view that would be a very unwise attitude for a country of eleven million people to take in relation to a country of 780 million people that is within Hying distance of us.
– Why does not the Government recognise China?
– I am recognising it to the extent that it is in our part of the world and that we should not say that we will stop all intercourse with any country, even if it appears to be our enemy. There is wisdom in saying: ‘We will endeavour to continue to have some relationship with this country.’
I believe that I am right when I say that when I first came into this Parliament I heard members of only one party espousing the proposition that Australia should maintain a relationship with Indonesia. I heard it said in this chamber and in the other place that the Government was supplying to Indonesia radio directional equipment for civil aviation purposes and that that should be stopped straight away.
– I did not say that.
– I did not say that either.
– I am pleased to hear some honourable senators say that they did not say that. The proposition that was put to the Government was that it should not give any support or assistance to and should not have any semblance of trade with a country which apparently would be our enemy. I do not think anybody would deny the wisdom of the relationships that we had with Indonesia. I offer congratulations to the Ministers concerned on the fact that we maintained our link with Indonesia. Today we are seeing that it may become one of the greatest protective forces for Australia in the future. That was a very wonderful policy, but one that I would have questioned at the time. It is very hard to justify wisdom within the administration, but I believe it was wise on that point and I think its action today is wise. Honourable senators opposite have said that we have been trading in steel with China and will sell China anything. They have suggested that the Government is acting contrary to its policy in relation to the protection of our troops. But I think the Opposition should be truthful and say what type of steel is being sold to China.
– A rose by any other name.
– I believe that the honourable senator would be fair enough to admit that the steel which has been :.o!d to China is of no use strategically.
– It releases other steel.
– That may be said of any item in which we trade with China. I am not endeavouring to say that I believe we should trade with China and I certainly do not believe that we should trade in strategic materials. If we were selling to China strategic materials such as steel sections, girders or something of that type, or hard milled steel that could be used for the manufacture of guns or other equipment, I would be opposed to it. I believe that the Government has been opposed to trade in materials of that kind. The facts have already been put on the record. In 1966-67 we supplied 37.522 tons of steel to China. Of that 24,890 tons were untinned plate and cold rolled steel of less than one-eighth inch thickness; further to that, 12,632 tons were of coated plate and galvanised uncorrugated sheet of less than 118 of an inch in thickness; and 520 tons were of what has been called scrap steel. These figures may excite the imagination, but I am willing to accept the comments of our Department of Trade and Industry that this material is useful only for the manufacture of toys or battery casings.
Honourable senators opposite should examine that proposition and consider whether we should not be trading with China in these products. The next point which was raised, one which has become a major complaint, is that we should not sell wheat to China. The first argument against the sale of wheat was that we are inflating our wheat markets and becoming dependent on China. It has been suggested that our overseas reserves are based to a large extent on these sales. I have heard the deliberate lie from honourable senators opposite and from others, and I saw writings in the Herald’ on, I think, the night before last, that the people of Australia are supporting sales of wheat to China to the extent of $40m in subsidy.
– Is that true?
– No, it is not true; it is a lie. Let me state the facts so that honourable senators can judge for themselves and so that the people of Australia will know what the situation is. Some figures stated this afternoon were not correct. I should now like to correct them. In 1965-66 the production of all cereals in China totalled 154.5 million tons. Chinese imports of wheat during that year reached 6.3 million tons.
– Where did those figures come from?
– Of the 6 million tons, just under 2 million tons came from Australia.
– How did the honourable senator get Communist Chinese figures?
– Do not interrupt me; there will be time later to discuss what I have been saying.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I suggest that I have been quite lenient in allowing the debate to cover a wide area. I ask the honourable senator to come back to the main part of the Bill.
– Chinese imports of grain from Australia represent only about 1.1% of her requirements. Let me now deal at greater length with the points that I have raised. How significant is our trade with China? What would be the effect on China if we accepted the view that we must cease trading with China? The stupidity of that suggestion can be answered by the question: Would we trade with Canada? I would trade with Canada and Canada is quite willing to sell to China. I believe that the very small part of ils grain requirements that China buys from Australia would not worry her significantly and by refusing to sell it to China all we would achieve is to pronounce ourselves as her enemy. Certainly Australia would gain no acceptance throughout :he world for its policies which endeavour to assist other countries and endeavour to maintain communications with all countries.
– Then that makes the Government’s policy very stupid.
– I am pleased to say that the Government of Australia lor some 17 years has been particularly good and the majority of people have accepted it as being particularly good. This Government’s policies indicate that wc are independent of all other governments of all other countries. We are willing to follow our own policies. Senator Lacey emphasised the truth of that statement when he said that we have a policy which is different from United States of America policy.
I have been taken away from the point that I was endeavouring to make. I have said that our wheat sales to China make up an insignificant part of their requirements. If we stopped selling wheat to China I doubt that anybody in the China area would be harmed by it and certainly France and Canada would be very pleased to see us move out of that market. We would not help the position at all r>y doing that. Our sales of wheat to China are made through the Australian Wheat Board. I have been led to believe and I accept it as fact that the Australian Wheat Board investigates all areas of the world in which wc might be able to trade in wheat If we trade in wheat with any country we have a wonderful selling organisation in the Australian Wheat Board. But there are also some problems within Australia. If honourable senators opposite were aware of some of the problems of the rural community, particularly the wool industry, they would know that because wool prices have fallen many farmers have endeavoured to plant wheat and in that way have added to the level of our economy.
– What has this to do with the Bill?
– lt has a lot to do with the Bill. I am dealing with the great screams which have come from the Opposition regarding our trade with China, lt has been said by some that the Australian people are subsidising to the extent of $40m per year our sales of wheat to China. Perhaps it would give the lie to that statement if I were to remind honourable senators that our legislation provides a support price for 150 million bushels of exported Australian wheat and that the purpose of the legislation is to stabilise prices.
– What is the price?
– Do not take me from the point I am making. The honourable senator knows what that price is because it is something that he has discussed. I am trying to point out to the Senate that there is legislation which provides that the wheat industry will be supported to the extent of 150 million bushels of export trade. We sell more than 150 million bushels of wheat to countries other than China.
– But at what price?
– The price docs not come into it. The honourable senator can work out for himself the effect on the wheat farmer if the export of 150 million bushels of wheat ceased altogether.
– We are not disputing that.
– It was being disputed. At the present time the Australian Wheat Board sells to China wheat which is of a lower grade and we are thankful that we are able to dispose of the lower grade wheat. Some honourable senators may not be aware that the wheat farmer receives no support whatever on wheat that is sold to mainland China. I think that puts the lie to some of the statements that have been made on this issue. Today there is great difficulty in selling wheat as throughout the world there is an over-production. It is particularly difficult to sell our grade of wheat to Europeans. In the peculiar situation in which we find ourselves today Australia, a country of 11,500,000 people, has to live in an area which is at the present time and will be for some time to come the most unsettled area of the world.
I support the action of our Department of External Affairs in keeping our liaison with, and offering our friendship to countries which have ideologies opposite to ours. This is wise because through links such as trade we can build friendships which will enable us eventually to lower barriers between us. We do not want to put up a barrier by saying: ‘We declare we are your enemy’. A change of attitude may well come about, as happened in Indonesia, and we shall be able to look forward to more stable relationships with other countries.
I support the Bill. 1 deplore the fact that in our community it should be necessary to introduce a Bill to protect our defence forces. However 1 am delighted to find everyone in this Senate acting as good Australians and supporting the measure.
– We are deeply indebted ro Senator Webster because he is the first man in Australia who has been able to produce statistics from Communist China. Therefore, Mr Deputy President, in accordance wilh standing order 364 I ask you to order him to lay on the table of the Senate for public gaze the documents from Communist China from which he quoted. Standing order 364 is in these terms:
A Document quoted from by a Senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table; such Order may be made without Notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the Senator who has quoted therefrom.
During Senator Webster’s speech I interjected and asked him to produce the documents from Communist China from which he quoted key statistics but he declined to do so. Therefore, Mr Deputy President, as you are acting for our esteemed President, I ask you to order Senator Webster to do so now.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Senator Willesee, you will have to move to that effect.
– I move:
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Is there a seconder?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The question is: That the motion be agreed to’. Those of that opinion say ‘Aye’-
– Mr Deputy President
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Webster.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. You asked for all those in favour to say ‘Aye’ and we on this side of the chamber called ‘Aye’. I know of your great leniency in this place but the debate is over. You have begun to ask for the ‘Ayes’ and the ‘Noes’ and we are on the point of taking a vote. Therefore, for the good order and government of this country 1 suggest that you cannot sustain debate once you commence to put the question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Until I have asked for those in favour and those against, the motion has not been put.
– With very great respect, Mr Deputy President, you must conclude a debate at some point, and that is the point at which you ask for those people in favour to say ‘Aye’. If you are going to-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– Just a moment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I have given my decision. You cannot canvass it but you can disagree with it.
– I do not want to be forced into the situation of disagreeing so I suggest in all friendliness that you cannot allow the debate to go on forever. You have asked for those in favour of the motion to say ‘Aye’ and I take it that in accordance with the usual practice you will ask for those against it to say ‘No’. Now Senator Webster is starting to canvass the subject again. I suggest, Mr Deputy President, that for the sake of good order and government you proceed with the vote.
– Mr Deputy President, I think it is fair to say that my speech- -
– Mr Deputy President, either 1 am right or I am wrong. Either you agree with me-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! When a point of order is raised any other honourable senator is at liberty to speak to it.
– This was not a point of order. I was merely pointing out to you the error of your ways. You had gone to-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! You are canvassing my ruling in relation to the point of order you raised in the first place.
– No, I did not raise a point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I beg your pardon. I had given my decision and you canvassed it. Then I ruled that you could not canvass it. I had given my decision. I have not declared which way the vote went. I called for the ‘Ayes’. Then as I was about to call for the ‘Noes’ Senator Webster rose and I called him. I. call Senator Webster.
– Senator Willesee wishes me to table the documents from Communist China from which he claims I quoted. With all due respect, I quoted figures; I do not remember giving the source of those figures. I do not remember having a document in my hand.
– What an admission.
– If that is the admission you wanted, I certainly-
– In other words, you made those up?
– No I did not.
– Yes you did. Document them.
– You have asked that I table the papers that came from mainland China. As far as I am concerned-
– Then you admit it.
– Senator Willesee is not making a point. I did not quote from any document from China. I did quote from calculations which had been given to me by the Department of Trade and Industry.
– How would the Department know?
– Give me a chance and I will give you the effect of the figures I cited. These are estimated figures. We do not have to go to Communist China to know our figures. I ask you, Mr Deputy President, to rule that Senator Willesee’s request was for me to table papers from mainland China from which I quoted. There are no such papers from mainland China from which I quoted.
– Mr President, you were not here-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin - 1 know about the matter.
– You know that 1 have had something to say in the past about the Standing Orders and you have confirmed my views. The point is that under standing order 364 I am entitled-
– Order! You cannot speak to the motion a second time. Are you raising a point of order?
– I am rising to say that if Senator Webster says that he did not quote from documents I do not want to pursue the matter. I understood that he was quoting from documents. If he assures me that he was not and that he was merely quoting statistics out of his head it would be useless for me to move under standing order 364 for the documents to be tabled. But if there were documents I want them tabled. If he will give me his assurance as an honourable man that there are no documents, I will accept it and there will be no sense in moving a motion. But if there are documents I think they should be tabled in accordance with standing order 364.
– Senator Webster, can you satisfy the requirements Senator Willesee has raised?
– It seems surprising that 1 should be called upon to supply documents to which I did not refer in my speech. Here we have a senator standing up-
– Order! Senator Willesee has asked you to table documents. You say you do not have them. Is that the position? You do not have the documents?
– I will table the documents but 1 ask whether that is a fair proposition. Senator Willesee says that I quoted from documents. I had no documents in my hand when I spoke. He is trying to put me in the position of saying that I quoted figures which I cannot substantiate. I have told him that the figures I quoted were already quoted earlier in the afternoon by my leader. Perhaps Senator Willesee was not here then but I heard no member of the Opposition take any objection to those figures. They were an estimate by one of our departments of the volume of trade and I thought that those figures would be of interest. I see that they have touched the Opposition on a particularly tender spot.
– Order! There is no point in this debate going any further. If you assure Senator Willesee that you have not those papers and that you were not quoting from papers, he is prepared to accept your assurance.
– I ask you, Mr President, to find out from Senator Willesee what papers he wishes .me to table.
– If the motion is put to the Senate and it is carried you will table all of the papers on your desk. Senator Willesee is not asking for that, if he has your assurance that the papers are not the ones that he thinks they are.
– I believe that you, Mr President, are having some difficulty in describing exactly what the papers are, and that is what Senator Willesee is doing. He opened up this debate by saying that I was quoting from papers and documents from China, and he did that for a particular purpose. Now he is changing his position. He is well aware that I had no documents in my hand from which to quote.
– You say, Senator Webster, that the papers there are not in conflict and Senator Willesee is prepared to accept your assurance. There will be no conflict about papers if you give Senator Willesee an assurance that you have no papers such as he thought you had there. If you do not give the assurance I will not let the discussion go any further. 1 will put the motion. It is a matter of your agreeing with Senator Willesee in order to satisfy him.
– I do not agree with Senator Willesee. He opened this matter by saying that I was quoting from papers from China. He did this in order to make a political point. The Opposition has been very, very hard hit by the facts presented this evening.
– Order! There is no need for disorder. I put the question:
That the motion be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Senator Webster, you will table the papers.
– Which papers do you wish me to table?
– I do not know.
– That is whatI do not know. I table my speech.
– Of course, I have not yet had a chance to examine the papers that are tabled. The Standing Orders, which have been carefully written, protect the Australian public and this Senate by ensuring that when a senator quotes from papers they are legitimate.
– Order! There is no need to canvass that matter any further.
-I am afraid that this is part of my argument.
– Order! Take my advice, Senator, and get on with your speech.
– Your advice, Mr President, I will willingly take. We have just heard a speech from a member of the Australian Country Party. If I ever wanted to come back to this earth and live a life free from worry I would join the Country Party because it is a Party that is perpetually happy. When Labor is in office members of the Country Party say:’We have no responsibility. It was those Communists. It was those Socialists, those people who hate democracy, the Australian Labor Party.’ However, when Labor is not in office they hang like barnacles on to the keel of the Liberal ship and say: ‘This is not our fault. It is the fault of the Liberal Party. It is not our fault that these things come in. This legislation is not ours.’ They play the most contemptible role in the political history of Australia. They are never game to stand on their own. They cling and hang on to the Liberal Party while it is in office, always criticising that Parly, always saying: ‘What is being done is not quite our job but yes, we are there to support the Liberal Party’.
– Make it clear that we arc the largest party in some Stales.
– I think you have said enough.
– Order! Senator Willesee, you will address the Chair.
– I certainly will, if somebody will look after him.
– We are the largest Party in some States.
– He is interjecting again. Will you deal with him, Mr President, or willI? We have heard a fair bit from him tonight. He took to criticising us on Indonesia. If there is one question on whichI stand firm and on which my withers remain unwrung it is on the question of Indonesia.I suffered the gibes of the Government parties and of the Country Party in particular right through the very dark days of Indonesia and often I said facetiously that there were two people left in Australia defending Indonesia - the Indonesian Ambassador and myself - and I was getting a bit worried about him at some stages. Anybody who knows the history of the Australian Labor Party on the question of Indonesia knows that we made that nation possible by stopping Dutch action. We realised better than the Government ever did that the Indonesians were our nearest neighbours, come what may. We knew that whatever might be the temporary arrangements in relation to governments in Australia or Indonesia we had to stand firm on this situation. Within my own Party whatever criticism was voiced and whatever mistakes may have been made, I never bowed my head in that regard. 1 visited Indonesia during the early stages of its problems and I always knew that whatever happened we had to come back to face the situation. To try to divert, as Senator Webster has done tonight, discussion of the question that is before us to a consideration of where the Australian Labor Party stood on Indonesia is to go so wide of the mark as to be not worth wasting a lot of time on. Honourable senators will have noticed that Senator Webster followed Mr Holt in his smear campaign in relation to this Bill. Not at any stage did he mention any names. He said that some part of the Opposition does not believe in trade with Communist China. There is some part of the Opposition that does not believe in trade with Communist China, there is np secret about that, lt is the Democratic Labor Party.
– I told the truth.
– That would be about the first time the honourable senator had ever told the truth. The fact is that he tried to throw everybody into this. I am not critical of the DLP. It is completely consistent on the position that it takes, lt would not trade with Red China, lt would not have anything to do with Rod China. It believes, with the Government, that Red China represents a threat against our troops, and against American troops and South Vietnamese troops. Although I disagree with the DLP in relation to trade with China and the rest of the Communist bloc, at least it is consistent, which is more than the Government is. The whole crux of this thing is that the Government is trying to stop, with a great blare of publicity, a few miserable pounds being forwarded for various reasons - some claim for humanitarian reasons. Some foolish people have said very silly things about it, out at the same time the Government is sending millions of pounds worth of commodities to Communist China. When the DLP is criticised for the position it takes, that is to do less than justice to that party because at least it is consistent. Let nobody think that we have not had clashes. One has only to take a look at the bootmarks on my stomach to see what the DLP has done to me and the Australian Labor Party, but in this situation it is completely consistent and the Government is not.
Honourable senators opposite sneer at the amendments that we are to move. These are machinery amendments. I will not waste time on them now, because they will certainly be examined in the Committee stage. In a nutshell what they seek to do is to preserve the rights to British justice that have been handed down to us over the centuries. They relate to the onus of proof and to the averment provision. All we say is that we should not get excited because of these couple of hundred students. If the Government is to take this any further it will do what is done with the worst criminal in this country. He is put into a court and he is presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. We are going to give such people the right to say whether they will be tried by twelve of their fellow men or whether they will appear summarily before the court and be dealt with by some country magistrate. That is all we are saying in regard to this amendment. We stand on completely solid ground in respect to the amendment. The amendment will not alter the principle of the Bill. It will merely alter the machinery provision.
We stand as we stood in respect to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill when the Government roused the people to fever pitch. We stand for the principle that nobody will have to pay the penalty for a crime until that crime has been committed. The Government cannot have thought police in this community. It cannot act because it thinks that people are going to commit certain crimes. That is the principle we stand on. We say that anybody involved in this very mixed up situation of Vietnam shall have the same rights and shall stand the same form of trial as the worst criminals in Australia. Senator Webster went to some length - I do not know why - to argue the point that the Democratic Labor Party was the catalyst for this Bill.
– That is not true.
– It is completely true. The honourable senator does not know what he said tonight. It is true. The fact is that the DLP was the catalyst of this Bill.
– I did not say that.
– The honourable senator disagreed that the DLP was the catalyst.
– The honourable senator claimed that I had said that the DLP was the catalyst.
– Why don’t you listen. I said that you denied that the DLP was the catalyst. You denied it. That is precisely what I said.
– You did not.
– Of course I did. Why don’t you go back-
– Order! Senator Willesee, you must address your remarks to me.
– Mr President, I am being agitated by remarks coming from my left. When I say left, I refer to the geographical meaning - not the political. I am afraid that I will have to deal with this if you do not act.
– Order! Senator Willesee, there is no need to speak to me in that way.
- Mr President, If I made any reflection on the Chair I apologise immediately.
– Very well. I will not have such remarks addressed to the Chair.
– I immediately apologise. It is very difficult to speak when interjections are coming from a person who is completely irresponsible. The fact is that the DLP was the catalyst of this BUI. I do not think we gain anything in politics by being dishonest. The fact is that the Australian Labor Party has tremendous fights with the DLP. But it is true that the DLP was the catalyst. In which way do we disagree with the DLP in its approach to this matter and in which way does the Government disagree? The Government wanted to use this Bill as a smear against the ALP. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) is adept at this. We believe, as the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) believed and admitted, that this matter could have been handled by administrative action without all this furore on the eve of an election. The Liberal Party, followed by the Country Party, wanted this furore.
I believe, and Senator Wheeldon agreed with me this afternoon, that the DLP was the catalyst for the production of this Bill. The ALP does not think that this action was completely necessary. The other day the Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam) asked the Treasurer what the situation was and the Treasurer said that the moment he became aware of these events arrangements were made to ensure that no more funds left this country. The Treasurer did this under the banking legisla tion which he administers. The situation is that no person in Australia can send money willy-nilly out of the country without good reason. It must go through the Reserve Bank of Australia. That Bank has power at all times to stop money being sent overseas. In the words of Mr McMahon the bank did stop this. I quote no better authority than that.
I understand completely the problems over Vietnam. I have said this before. It is a completely divisive matter, not only throughout Australia but throughout the world. I understand most points of view in respect of Vietnam. I understand people who see Communist China as a threat although 1 do not’ see the logic of this. However, I can understand what they feel and their belief that there may be a drive by the Communists. I understand people who believe in the domino theory and that at some stage Australia could be attacked; but I disagree in the logic of this argument. I can understand the mothers of sons sent to Vietnam particularly those whose sons are killed. 1 can understand the feelings of people who see photographs of children burned with napalm bombs and who do not want Australia associated with that type of thing. I can completely understand that point of view. Because of all these things I am completely tolerant of views over Vietnam. I never say that I am completely right in ray view. I understand all these feelings, and above all else, I understand the thoughts of people living in a country in which there are foreign troops; a country whose young people see nothing but theft and prostitution and the complete degradation of a race. I realise all these things and therefore I am not adamant on this question. I am not completely intolerant of the views of other people. I wish that people like Senator Webster would also adopt this attitude. But he came into this place and threw all sorts of smears without mentioning any names. He said that there are some members of the Labor Party who are completely Australian. He says he is not so sure about the rest. He always fails to name which particular person he means.
I have had disagreements with many members of the ALP. As long as I am a member I will continue to have disagreements because we are such a broadly based party. But I have never thought at any time that any person with whom I have disagreed is not as patriotic or as Australian as I am. I have always thought that I will be able to lie on my death bed and say that I could have been wrong in all the things in which I believed for all these years. But while I believe those things at the present time, and while I believe something is best for Australia, then it is my duty to put my thoughts forward. 1 think that the whole problem in relation to Vietnam is that over a long period of time the Liberal Government has learned to use foreign policy as a political tool or weapon with which to bash people who hold an opposite view. I remember speaking to a friend of mine who was a diplomat. He was in the United States of America for many years and knew the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. On one occasion he asked McCarthy why he had gone on his great crusade of abusing people and calling them Communists. McCarthy said that he did it for one simple reason - to put his party into power. He said that this was a good weapon with which to belt the opposition but that when his party began to gain ascendency he found he was on thi back of a tiger and could not get off. ( am saying this advisedly to the Liberal Party. I remember the 1949 election when any person who stood on the Labor platform was damned and called a Communist, and other things. I said then that the day would come when such people would be like the little boy who cried wolf - people would no longer believe them. If ever there is a Communist threat to Australia no-one will believe what the Government says. This is the situation the Government is getting itself into over Vietnam.
asked this afternoon why the ALP supported this Bill. I said earlier that we disagreed with the DLP on the approach to this problem because we believe that without all this fuss - without the Government getting itself into the impossible position of trading with China on the one hand and saying at the same time that the Chinese are the people who are killing our troops - the problem could have been handled. I referred the other day to the cartoon depicting a spear, the butt of which was held in Communist China and the blade of which was held by the Vietcong in South Vietnam. We support this Bill because of the position which the Government has finally got itself into in having to bring down this legislation. Before this Bill was introduced we said two things: Firstly, that the Labor Clubs had nothing to do with the ALP; secondly, that we disagreed with the ridiculous things that people were saying to the effect that the ALP was going to send aid to Australia’s enemies.
When Mr Calwell was the Leader of the ALP we were strongly criticised for opposing the sending of troops to Vietnam. But we also said that when those troops were in that country the Australian nation and the ALP would do everything for their comfort and succour. One of the things 1 have criticised more than once - and everybody on the Labor side has criticised this - is that we believe it is completely wrong to be fighting an undeclared war. We believe it is wrong that 21-year-old Australians should, at the worst, be giving their lives, or at the best, 2 years of their time at their chosen trade or career, when at the same time the Government has not said to anybody in this chamber or to anybody in Australia that he should give one additional 10c piece towards their support. At least a Labor government during wartime taxed the people to the extent of 1 8s 6d in the £1 when it believed that this country was in trouble.
I will not quote the decision of the Australian Labor Party executive because time is moving on. The decision concludes by saying that the executive disagrees with the decisions and altitudes of the Clubs. Regrettably the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) is becoming noted as a smearer. Senator McManus, when he launched an attack which did not spare the Australian Labor Party, had the honesty to say that Labor Clubs had no association with the Australian Labor Party. He was fair enough to say that. Anybody who has been in politics for 10 minutes knows that. The Prime Minister has been in politics for 30 years. What did he say? In an answer on 16th August he said:
I am not able to say with any authority what relationship the Labor clubs at the universities bear to the Australian Labor Party.
The Prime Minister of Australia, with all the authorities at his hand, with the security police at the very tips of his fingers, was unable to state the relationship. I doubt very much if that was an honest opinion on the part of the Prime Minister of Australia. Senator McManus knew the position, every member of the Australian Labor Party knew it, and every member of the Liberal Party who liked to look into the political structure in Australia also knew it. The Prime Minister tried to make a cheap political point by trying to convey to the Australian people that the ALP bore a relationship to the Labor clubs.
Where did this come from? The ALP agrees largely with the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) on this matter. We believe that the situation certainly had to be dealt with, that it could not be condoned. People were appealing for money to sent help to the enemy. It is true that later on they talked about being humanitarian and so on. I agree that no government could stand by and say: ‘Look, this can go on.’ The Attorney-General, a very trained and very eminent lawyer, I understand - he has not displayed the fact in Parliament - when talking to a Liberal seminar and while suggesting that action might be taken against students who were not in the category of perfectly honest people said:
I would not like to launch a prosecution which collected a perfectly honest student, who might be a future Prime Minister of Australia, sowing his oats.
A university student sowing his oats is one thing that would have attracted the Prime Minister of Australia. I did not think the Prime Minister would disagree with a student because he sowed his oats in a different field to that of a student who wanted to become Prime Minister of Australia. I thought the Prime Minister would have been much more broadminded than that. The Prime Minister does not agree with the Attorney-General. The situation here is contrary to what the AttorneyGeneral said. The catalyst was the Democratic Labor Party. Obviously, if one examines the situation, the cool minded Attorney-General wanted to put this in perspective. On the one hand he was needled, and on the other hand his Prime Minister did not want to miss a chance to smear or to have a crack at the Australian Labor Party.
The Reserve Bank had all the powers in the world to stop this money being sent to the National Liberation Front. When the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was asked how much was going to the National Liberation Front he said: ‘Since I found out about it, nothing.’ I will not examine this Bill in detail in the limited time available to me. But if one examines the Bill one finds that its provisions are lift outs, with small amendments, from the Crimes Act. The Government says that the Crimes Act was no good, but it takes its provisions and puts them into this particular Bill.
Senator McKellar this afternoon made a most amazing speech. He kept saying: ‘Does not the Australian Labor Party want to trade with the Communist bloc?’ The peculiar situation in which the coalition Government has found itself is this: On the one hand the Liberal Party is screaming about Communist China and on the other hand the Australian Country Party is talking about mainland China because that Party wants to sell wheat to mainland China. The Bill provides for no penalty for trading with Communist China. If one gives $1 to go towards that country one is liable to a penalty. But one could trade with that country in as many millions as one likes. If the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd came to this Government and said that it wanted to send more steel to China, whether it be tin plate or 4-inch steel or whatever it might be, the Government would say: ‘My good friends, an election is coming up and we want funds. Sure we will let you go ahead. That will not offend against this legislation.’ But if you, Mr President, or I or anybody else wants to give a 10c piece to these people, then we will transgress against this measure.
I repeat that this afternoon Senator McKellar posed this question: Does the Australian Labor Party want to stop trade with Communist China? The answer is very simple. No, we do not. Of course we do not. On the other hand we do not say that China is the source of all evil. We do not say that if you could obliterate Communist China, tomorrow, which some members of the Liberal Party would like to do, the war in Vietnam would stop. The Government has been caught with double standards. As I said the other day, it has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar. It cannot have it both ways.
– What a lot of rubbish.
– Senator Webster says: ‘What a lot of rubbish’, after what he talked about tonight. The point is that Australia would not be in this situation because the Australian Labor Parly would not have sent troops to Vietnam in the first place. If the Department of Trade and Industry does not recommend that Australia trade with anybody it can outside the European bloc, something is wrong with the heads of that Department. General de Gaulle has kept Britain out of the European Common Market on “.wo occasions. Even the great de Gaulle cannot live forever. Even if he lives, he cannot keep Great Britain out of the European Common Market forever. The day that Great Britain moves into the European Common Market, Australia will be faced with a tremendous problem. We have a God sent situation. In fact, T think wc ought to erect a plaque in honour of General de Gaulle for what he is doing. He is giving us the opportunity to trade with these other countries. I make no apology for saying that I would trade with these other countries. If we had to stand up to political consequences afterwards, let us do so at that time. What honourable senators opposite are trying to do, on the one hand, is to send wheat to China to silence the barnacle party on the keel of the Liberal ship and, on the other hand, they arc saying that China is the source of all evil. Recently I said that the Government had weakened ils moral position by saying that these people cannot send a few hundred dollars overseas but that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, under the auspices of the LiberalAustralian Country Party Government, can do whatever trade they possibly can. Honourable senators opposite ask what the Labor Party would do. Honourable senators opposite always come back to what the Labour Party would do under these circumstances. Labor would never hr.ve put itself in this position. We would have built up a live trade as against the time when we lost our market with Great Britain moving into the European Common Market, and we would not have been saying that Communist China is the source of all this evil.
Communist China today - I do not want to go into this, because it is off tlx beam - has so many fights on so many fronts, including its internal front, that it does no: have very much time to be worrying about this. If honourable senators opposite believe that the Communist movement in the world today is a great monolithic structure, then all 1 say is that you should have another look at the great problem that is confronting both Russia and Communist China. If one analyses the Vietnam situation, one sees that it is impairing that position too. Senator Webster talked about the election in Vietnam. Let mc be quite candid about it. I think the election is great, because (he situation in Vietnam up till now has been such that the only way in which the government could be changed has been by way of a coup. For about 1,000 years the head of state in that country has had a mandate from heaven. It would be a rather uncomfortable position to oppose a mandate from heaven. As we have seen, there was a succession of governments. 1 am in favour of the elections in Vietnam. I do not attempt for one moment to pretend that they are the types of elections wc would want to see in Australia. Neither do I say that our elections are all that good. I have looked at some of the ballot boxes and as a tough, practical politician 1 do not expect absolute honesty. It is a question of degree. However, the fact is that the elections in Vietnam arc a good thing. It will also be a good thing when there is another election for the House of Representatives. The Opposition advises the Government not to believe that because elections have been held in South Vietnam, all the troubles are solved and everybody is satisfied. Not only in South Vietnam but in all countries in the world there may be a degree of dishonesty or, to use what I imagine would be a Liberal Party expression, non-ethical practices. I admit the value of the South Vietnamese elections but I advise Government supporters not to stand back now and say that everything is all right; that everything is going to have a completely happy solution.
Honourable senators opposite have referred to democracies. There are very few democracies in the world which function as we suggest a democracy should function, but other governments have been much more careful in observing democratic rights than this Government has ever been. Wc expect Government supporters to say that there is now a democratic form of parliamentary government in South Vietnam. They will foist that claim on to us. The
Government has brought in this legislation to meet a situation that had to be met. We agree with that. We were the first to dissociate ourselves from the collection campaign for funds for the National Liberation Front. The Liberal Party finds itself in a position from which it cannot extricate itself without wrecking the coalition. The Government is sanctioning trade with a nation it terms the enemy. Honourable senators opposite ask us: ‘Under these circumstances would you not trade with them?’ If we believed that Communist China was the source of all evil as the Government claims to believe, the answer is that we would not trade with them. But we do not believe that for one minute. We believe that the situation in Vietnam is vastly more complex than that.
We do not say that Communist China is not a threat. Of course it is. It is behaving at present in an inexplicable and enigmatic fashion which has defied the greatest diplomacy, ft has confused everybody. I suppose that Communist China has insulted twenty or thirty nations; not only Hong Kong and Britain, but all the African countries, time and time again. We cannot understand the Asian mind. We cannot understand the internal workings of a country taken over by revolution only in the last 20 years. That is not to say that we accept everything said of us by Government supporters. We are not going to take lightly the smears that they cast upon us. We merely say that while they claim on the one hand that Communist China is the source of all evil - that if Communist China were to be wiped out apparently the war in Vietnam would stop and the troubles in South America and Africa would be solved - on the other hand they are trading with Communist China to placate the people who have been hanging on to them - the Australian Country Party. They are in a situation from which Chey cannot extricate themselves. At the Committee stage of the debate we will propose amendments of a machinery nature in order to do what the Australian Labor Party was formed to do, insists on doing and has done under all sorts of pressures over the years; that is, to preserve the rule of law which states that every man is innocent until he is proved to be guilty. I may have stated that a little confusedly, but Senator Wright as a lawyer will understand what I mean. He has voted in the Senate to give a man the right to trial by jury. I hope that he will do that under all circumstances and not just on measures like the Wireless Telegraphy Bill.
The powers contained in this Bill are already vested in the Reserve Bank. All that the Government has done is to lift sections of the Crimes Act and introduce them in this legislation. The Prime Minister has smeared the Australian Labor Party and we have heard speeches such as that made tonight by Senator Webster. It is obvious that election time is approaching and the Government is trying to dob something on to Labor. If there is a war or troubles inspired by Communism even in any part of the stratosphere the Government will try to hang the blame for it around the neck of the ALP. In foreign affairs it has always been the policy of the Government to introduce political issues and never lb stand up to what ought to be done.
We support the Bill because the matter has gone this far. We believe that it was unnecessary. We have always believed that the lunatic fringe should be kept down and not allowed to say the things that it does. The record shows that under Curtin, the great Labor Prime Minister, we took more drastic action than the Government has ever taken when people step out of line. The Liberal Party is anxious to retain the support of the Country Party for political power. The Government must sanction trade with China; if the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd wants to send steel to China, that is all right. But at the same time the Government seeks to knock down and give great publicity to the people collecting funds for the National Liberation Front. Who gave them the publicity? The Prime Minister, because he wanted to try to get at the ALP. I advise Government supporters not to throw this at us. It is completely on their plate. They should not try these smear tactics with which they have got away for so long. Of course the money raising has to be stopped, but while they trade with the nation they call the enemy and engage in stunts, they deserve the opprobrium of the Australian people. That is what they are going to get because they have played the smear game too long and it is starting to catch up with them.
– I have listened to the debate with consternation because, after all, the Bill before the Senate is the Defence Force Protection Bill. To be quite frank, I fail to understand what some of the subjects introduced by members of the Opposition have to do with the Bill. It seems to me they are trying to establish a political escape route. It is they who are trying to prevent the public’s seeing that their hand is in the cookie jar, and not that of Government supporters. The Government has introduced this Bill with a clear conscience and no regrets or inhibitions. The Labor Party is trying to find a way around it. It appears from the way honourable senators opposite have tried to delay the Bill that they are attempting to delay the vote on it.
– When did this happen?
– While the honorable senator was absent. This Bill has been brought in for the protection and security of our forces serving in Vietnam. There is no debate about whether we sent them there. We do not claim that we did not send them there. We acted with a good conscience and with good reason. Our troops in Vietnam are perfectly happy to stay there and serve in the field in the way they are serving at present. Of course, this state of affairs does not appeal to the Opposition. Honourable senators opposite believe that the troops should not be happy over there, doing what they are doing. It is quite clear from their recent statements that they are embarrassed on this issue; as was shown at the last elections. As a returned serviceman, I go further and say that this Bill would have the greatest appeal to 99.9% of Australians. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Opposition should be two faced about this measure; why it should pretend to oppose it and then vote for it. Any serviceman who thought for one moment that funds were being collected in Australia to be sent to the enemy in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world for use by that enemy against him could not help but look upon such acts with the greatest of repugnance. And I could quite understand his feelings. I ask honourable senators opposite to put themselves in his position, and to imagine a politician or student in Australia endeavouring in some way or other to support the enemy. Could they condone such an action? It is no wonder that some of the men returning from Vietnam have said: ‘We do not want to meet them in a dark alley; let us meet them in the daylight.’ The Bill before us seeks to prevent actions that are designed to help the enemy.
Admittedly no war has as yet been declared, but this measure proclaims certain people. I only hope that in the not too distant future a like Bill will be introduced to proclaim even more people who would wish to take similar action, inside and outside Australia, against this country.
– That is a dangerous field.
– It is not a dangerous field at all. The enemy which we know is always there. It is not at all a dangerous field. We have had references tonight to China and other countries which were quite irrelevant to the Bill. We are discussing the Defence Force Protection Bill, and nothing else. What we have to do with China, Rhodesia, Zambesia or any other country has nothing at all to do with this Bill. Certain people who have been speaking from the ivory towers of the universities and the Parliament have no more liberty to support the enemy than has anybody else in Australia. Some people think that because they are at a university they have the liberty, and therefore the licence to do these things. Some people in the Parliament have the same opinion. They are totally incorrect.
The debate has wandered far and wide. I shall try to keep to the area which is covered by the Bill. Let me be fair to the trade unions of Australia. Recently it was suggested by twenty-seven trade unions in Australia that Britain should kow-tow to the Communists in Hong Kong. Mention of this was made during the debate earlier today. It has- nothing whatever to do with the Bill; but let me say here and now that I do not for one moment believe that the officials in charge of these unions were entitled to make such a suggestion. There are many ratbags in the universities of Australia.
– There are a few outside them, too.
– Yes, there are quite a few outside.
– There are a few in Parliament, too.
– I attended a university and I am now in Parliament, so possibly I could qualify on two counts. Mr Whitlam has referred to these people as being ratbags or anarchists. They are not really anarchists, but they are gathering funds. Mr Whitlam said that funds had not been sent to Vietnam. They have been sent. As evidence of that I refer to the man who claims to be a Church of England padre and who has stated that he has sent funds to the National Liberation Front.
– He does not say that.
– I understand that he does.
– He does not claim to be a padre.
– He does not claim to be a padre, but he claims to be one of the faith. A padre would not do it. As I have said, Mr Whitlam claims that funds have not been sent to Vietnam. They have been sent. There is no doubt in the world that they have been sent.
– And they admit having sent them.
– They also admit that they are proud of having sent them, and they are also proud of having said that if the funds buy a bullet with the name Monash University* on the side and that bullet kills or wounds an Australian soldier it is bad luck for that soldier.
– Who said that?
– I forget who said it but it has been said by a student at Monash University. I shall produce the proof later if necessary. There is no doubt in the world that money has been sent to Vietnam. We cannot stand here as Australian citizens, let alone parliamentarians and bear with this effrontery not only to our defence but also to our liberty. We cannot allow these ratbags and-
– Derelicts - call them what you will. I know they are in the minority, but we must introduce legislation such as this to stop them acting in the way in which they are. I am very proud to be able to say that Australian troops have been very much to the fore in recent times in giving some protection to ensure that a democratic election is held in Vietnam. While they are doing that, while they are trying to promote peace, and while they are trying to ensure that democratic principles are upheld, are we who stay here to allow these ratbags and derelicts, as Senator O’Byrne calls them, to upset the whole atmosphere they are creating?
The Australian troops are in Vietnam playing a police role. They are there to prevent aggression from the north and from the National Liberation Front which is not even an official part of North Vietnam. The law throughout the world demands that we support a democratic police force, and that is what we intend to do in Vietnam. Senator Willesee has said that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has introduced a smear. That is completely untrue. There was no smear at all.
– He said that the Prime Minister kicked the Communist can.
– What Senator Willesee said might upset Senator Ormonde’s conscience, but it would not upset the Prime Minister’s conscience. The Prime Minister said quite clearly that as far as he knew the university Labor clubs had nothing whatsoever to do with the Australian Labor Party. In that respect he was completely fair and honest, as he always is. No smear whatsoever was intended by the Prime Minister. Senator Willesee also suggested that the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) made some implication of a smear. But the Attorney-General explained quite clearly - he was very ably supported by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) - that there was no intention of connecting the ALP with the university Labor clubs. Senator Willesee also said that foreign policy was being used as a baton. That is quite incorrect. This Bill is pure realism. It represents protection for the men who are defending us; nothing else. Senator Cavanagh said that the Government was introducing restrictive legislation to cover criminals.
– No; to cover noncriminals.
– If these people who are gathering, subscribing and sending funds to the North Vietnamese and the National
Liberation Front are not criminals, although I am not a lawyer, my understanding of the word ‘criminals’ must be far different from Senator Cavanagh’s. Any man who will gather funds to be sent to North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front for use against our own troops is far worse than a criminal.
Other matters have been brought into this debate. One of them is the bombing of North Vietnam. That has nothing at all to do with this Bill. However, one word that was brought into the debate in this connection was ‘morale’. It is very important. Let us consider the morale of our troops who are serving in Vietnam and defending us who are sitting here in peace. Imagine the effect on their morale if they thought for one moment that funds were being collected in Australia and being sent to Vietnam to be used against them. I believe that this is the most important feature of the whole Bill.
Senator Bishop said that the Government was trying to trap members of the Labor Party by statements of policy. Surely the policy of the Government has been stated clearly and was understood by everybody at the last election. This Bill is not a trap for members of the Labor Party. It is purely a declaration of where Australia stands. There is nothing more to this Bill than a pure and simple declaration. In conclusion I say that we support what our troops are doing in Vietnam. It is our duty to support them to the full and not for one moment to consider the support of conspiracy, thuggery or anything else that would act to their detriment as they fight in our defence.
– In the few minutes that are left this evening I wish to deal with part of the Bill itself. Members of the public listening to this debate this evening and earlier today would be hard put to gather the impression that all sides of the Senate are in agreement on this Bill, lt seems to me that the debate has escalated from some remarks that were made in the early stages and that the Senate, instead of discussing the Bill, has discussed why the Bill should be before it, as if there were an opposite point of view. I am supporting the Bill. 1 wish to deal with a clause of it that directly concerns me and a large number of other people in Australia who approach this matter from the humanitarian point of view.
I refer to clause 3. lt will be appreciated that sub-clause (3.) of this clause sets down provisions that enable a person to make, solicit and send donations for humanitarian purposes - that is, for medical aid - to the people who are being injured as a result of the fighting in Vietnam, whether they are in the North or the South and whether they are members of the warring forces or civilians. 1 believe that in drawing up this Bill, particularly this clause, the Government has rushed through the drafting stage unnecessarily, lt seems to me that the necessary powers already existed to prevent any money being sent out of Australia. That is borne out by a fact that has been mentioned by a number of speakers; namely, that the Reserve Bank clamped down on the sending of funds out of Australia as soon as the position was made known to it. The Government and its draftsmen could have proceeded to produce a Bill that would have been well thought out and well drawn up. There was a period of a couple of weeks before anything was done. Then this legislation was rushed through.
In the intervening period a number of approaches were made to members of the Government Parties, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), requesting that, if a Bill of this nature was envisaged, provision be made for organisations which already were in the habit of sending assistance in the form of medical aid to injured people to be allowed to continue to do so. I know of three organisations that come in that category, apart from the Australian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross which are mentioned specifically in clause 3 of the Bill. I am disturbed about this because the specific mentioning of those two organisations implies that any other body is not allowed to make any sort of collection or to send any assistance in the form of medical aid until it has had its bona fides examined and has been proclaimed as a suitable body for doing this work.
As far as I know, the three organisations that come in this category are a Roman Catholic relief organisation, Inter-Church Aid, which is part of the Australian Division of the World Council of Churches, and a
Quaker organisation with which I am connected. I do not know any more about the Roman Catholic organisation, but I understand that it has been carrying on humanitarian work in both North and South Vietnam. I have here a copy of a letter which was sent by the acting Presiding Clerk of the Society of Friends - the Quakers - to the Prime Minister and also to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). The fetter was released to the Press and a copy was sent to me. The letter, which is dated 25th August and is addressed to the Prime Minister, states:
On 24th August 1967 the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported as follows: ‘Legislation providing for fines up to $2,000 and gaol terms up to 2 years is being prepared to prevent the sending of money to North Vietnam. The AttorneyGeneral, Mr N. H. Bowen, told a meeting of the Government parties today that he was speeding preparation of the Bill, which would make the soliciting, collecting or transferring of funds to assist the National Liberation Front or organisations in North Vietnam an offence.’ lt may well be that the Government is planning action to prohibit military assistance only, but with such legislation pending we feel compelled to make known to you, to Mr Bowen and the Australian public, the following facts about aid given by members of our organisation.
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has, throughout the 300 years of its existence, endeavoured to bring relief to human suffering wherever it has occurred. These efforts have arisen from a religious compulsion and a belief in the ultimate worth and dignity of every human being. Quakers acknowledge no enemies and our relief work, and our efforts to promote reconciliation in situations of conflict, have always been conducted without discrimination and irrespective of political orientation or national allegience
The American Friends Service Committee-
That is the American Quaker Committee: is already aiding refugees and other victims of the war in South Vietnam through a relief centre established in Quang Ngai Province. Australian Friends-
Quakers: have made donations towards this work. The American Friends Service Committee is hoping to extend medical and other relief supplies to all the parties involved in the Vietnam war. Pending the establishment of a Quaker relief centre in North Vietnam Quakers throughout the world have been forwarding both their own donations and those entrusted to them by other concerned persons, through such recognised relief channels as the International Red Cross.
The letter then quotes from the Geneva Convention to which the Commonwealth of Australia is a signatory and which states in Article 10, Fourth Schedule:
The provisions of the present Convention constitute no obstacle to the humanitarian activities which the International Committee of the Red Cross or any other impartial humanitarian organisation may, subject to the consent of the Parties to the conflict concerned, undertake for the protection of civilian persons and for their relief.
Because of the time factor I shall not quote the remainder of the letter, which is in the same vein. However, I should like to quote from a copy of a letter which was sent to the Prime Minister by the convenor of the Friends Service Council, which is the body in Australia similar to the American Friends Service Committee. The concluding portion of the letter states:
Medical supplies, particularly anti-biotics for child sufferers, are being sent to and distributed by the respective Red Cross Societies and our London office has received letters of thanks from Madame Tran Thi Dieh, General Secretary in Hanoi Quakers and members of the general public in many countries support this.
We are not novices in this kind of work. Since the days of the Franco-Prussian War such help has been given across barriers to suffering civilians, and in 1947, in recognition of its value in removing bitterness, our Quaker Service Councils in Britain and the USA were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
That explains the situation of the Society of Friends and we feel that these matters might have been considered when the Bill was drafted. I should like now to mention Inter-Church Aid, the relief section of the Australian Council of Churches, because it is quite concerned about this. I think honourable senators have probably heard a news item in the last week in which the Reverend Harvey Perkins drew attention to this and released a telegram which he had sent to the Prime Minister. The InterChurch Aid organisation, which also supplies relief to Vietnam, is in a very peculiar position because it does not know just where it is going to be under the provisions of the Bill. The interesting situation is that the Government subsidises InterChurch Aid to the extent of $16,000 per year. The Government gives aid to that body which is supplying medical aid to sufferers in Vietnam. It is now put on the spot as to whether it will be able to do this and whether the Government will still supply it with the money. It just does not know where it is.
I was talking to the Reverend Harvey Perkins earlier today and I understand that another telegram has been sent to the Prime
Minister asking what is the position with regard to Inter-Church Aid. In view of these situations I am disturbed that we should have rushed this legislation through and not given due consideration to such humanitarian bodies whose purpose is only to alleviate suffering. This is an unfortunate situation and is something of which the Government was aware when the Bill was drafted. By that time the letters and the telegrams had been sent to the Prime Minister. He was not unaware of the position and I think this organisation might have been included in the legislation.
I believe that we have carried on this debate probably toolong because we are all in agreement. My opinion is that this legislation is unnecessary because it has been proved that we have all the facilities for dealing with the situation. We have already stopped funds going to North Vietnam. The only thing we can do now is pass the legislation and register our disappointment that no adequate provision was made for humanitarian bodies other than the Australian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of Red Cross.
– In the couple of minutes which are leftI want to make one or two observations of an introductory nature and to refer to the fact that we have listened with considerable interest, and in my case with some degree of understanding, to the remarks which Senator Wilkinson has made in relation to relief organisations which are referred to in clause 3 of the Bill. The measure which has been before the Senate all day has been an unusual one which has been introduced to deal with unusual situations. It has been introduced to deal with certain matters that have arisen and have required urgent attention. It is true, as Senator Wilkinson has said, that the Bill has been prepared and introduced rather more speedily perhaps than some others that we have dealt with, but I think that he would agree, as all honourable senators would agree, that the measure of support which the Bill has received during the day has been evidence that the matter required a degree of urgent attention. Sufficient detail has been put forward by honourable senators to show that the matter required immediate and urgent attention. The debate has ranged over a whole area of subjects, a great many of which have not been related to the detail before the Senate.
It has occurred to me that this matter arises as a result of a series of trends which have emerged during the years in relation to our total-society community. I have heard it said that these trends almost become an extension of the cult of demonstration and criticism. It has become very much part of our society today to have people demonstrate or raise their voices in procession or in some other way either against some legislation or against some habit or part of our established procedures.
-Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to raise a matter tonight which concerns the Attorney-General’s Department. I make no apology for doing so because the motion for the adjournment of the Senate is the only occasion on which I get a chance to raise any matter. I refer to section 123 of the Matrimonial Causes Act which empowers a judge in divorce cases to issue an order prohibiting the publication of particulars relating to the case. I raise this matter only because to my mind this leaves a loophole and gives rise to one law for the rich and one law for the poor. I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General or any Minister in this place representing anyone in the Government to listen to me. Perhaps they will read it in Hansard tomorrow and will then ask the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in another place whether section 123 of the Act can be amended.
Recently a very prominent Australian - indeed a very wealthy Australian - obtained an order from the judge in the divorce court prohibiting all reference to the divorce proceedings. Whilst it may be said that the judge knew the facts of the case, to my mind they are such that they should never have been suppressed. There is an additional reason -this man belonged to a religion which docs not believe in divorce. The strange facts about the case were that in June 1965 his wife petitioned for divorce on the ground of adultery. Then suddenly, in October or November of the same year she withdrew her petition for divorce on the ground of adultery and petitioned for divorce on the ground of desertion. When the court granted her petition later she received a settlement of $60,000.
To those of us who have suspicious or critical minds this would appear to be a divorce of connivance. There is no doubt that the wife had ample evidence of adultery because her husband was living with another woman and their two children. Because the man is wealthy, powerful and prominent the facts surrounding his divorce were hushed up completely. There was not even one line in print. In Tasmania - the only State in which I know the law - all that a newspaper is allowed to publish about a divorce is that A divorces B and, if there is adultery, C is named.
By the power given to him by section 123 of the Act a judge can prohibit the publication of any divorce proceedings. To me, that is all wrong. If it is good enough for one person, it is good enough for another. If we were before that judge I wonder how many of us would be given the same right. After all, a divorce hurts your family whether you are rich or poor. If you have children by your wife and you are sued for divorce or are obtaining a divorce, the children are hurt. It does not matter whether you are prominent; their lives are affected. If it is good enough for one man, it is good enough for everyone.
I will address my remarks to the Government Whip who may be able to pass them on because no-one else on the Government side seems to be interested. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) should be interested in this but he is not. I think the best thing for me to do is to send the Attorney-General the Hansard report of my speech and let him read it for himself. 1 ask for support. Every time we ask a Minister to do something wc are told that the matter will be referred to this Minister or that Minister and nothing is done. I withdraw that remark because Senator Anderson did abolish the customs entry form, but 99 times out of 100 nothing is done.
I maintain that there is good reason for the Act to be altered because if nonpublication of divorce proceedings is fair enough for one person, it is fair enough for the lowest in the land. The community in general suffers a great injustice when divorce proceedings are hushed up because a man is prominent and wealthy. That is the basis of the matter and I hope that the Whip, who has heard me throughout, will take this to the Minister and plead with him to do something about it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670906_senate_26_s35/>.