13 March 1968

26th Parliament · 2nd Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Social Services

Senator MURPHY presented a petition from representatives of the Old People’s Welfare Council of New South Wales showing that as a result of the means test a person whose income is as little as 10c per week higher than that of a pensioner, receives none of the concessions which are worth more than $81 per year available to pensioners and praying that Parliament will take whatever steps are in its power to rectify this anomaly which is penalising those persons who have for years contributed by tax to social services and because of their own contributions to superannuation funds are unable to participate in the fringe benefits which are available to pensioners.

Petition received and read.

Banana Industry

Senator MCCLELLAND presented a petition from persons interested in the banana industry in New South Wales referring to the depressed condition of the industry, and praying that the Senate will request the Federal . Government to take immediate action to alleviate the plight of banana growers aDd subsidise the costs of production of bananas, and establish an all-party Senate select committee to inquire into costs of production, marketing arrangements, retail prices and potential export markets.

Petition received and read.

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Senator MURPHY:

– What does the Minister for Works intend to do about the latest bungle at the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport? Is it not correct that hundreds of precast beams for the terminal building are too short and that this is likely to delay completion of the building for a further 6 to 12 months or, if they are used, result in a weakened and inferior structure? Will the Minister make a full statement to the Senate at some convenient time setting out the delays that have occurred in the construction of the Sydney international airport, the causes of the delays and the action taken to expedite completion? What is the likely date of completion?

Senator WRIGHT:
Minister for Works · TASMANIA · LP

– In answering the Leader of the Opposition’s question 1 wish to inform the Senate that although I have taken an opportunity to visit the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and to inspect the works there under construction - massive as they are - my attention has not been drawn to the matter referred to in detail by the Leader of the Opposition. I shall obtain information with regard to that matter at the earliest opportunity. I shall also be pleased to accept the suggestion that I make to the Senate at an early date a statement as to the. progress of work at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.

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Senator WEBSTER:

– My question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to the intense problems caused by drought in my State of Victoria. I ask: Is the Minister aware of the representations made to the Prime Minister by the Victorian Government, the Graziers Association of Victoria and other influential primary producing bodies for the Commonwealth Government to subsidise the cost of wheat purchased for drought feeding of breeding stock? Being aware of the urgency o’i this matter, is the Minister in a position to give an immediate reply to these representations?

Minister for Supply · NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The matter referred to by Senator Webster has had supplementary publicity in the Press during the last 48 hours. For that reason I have obtained some relevant information. 1 have been informed that correspondence passed between the Prime Minister and State Premiers on the subject. Such correspondence is normally regarded as confidential, unless it is mutually agreed to be otherwise. So far as I am able to understand the present situation, the Commonwealth has estimated that its total financial assistance to the States for drought relief for the 3 years since 1965-66 is likely to amount to about S60m. The financial assistance by the Commonwealth covers such matters as full reimbursement of State expenditure on the provision of loans for carry-on and re-stocking purposes where credit is not available through normal commercial channels; rebates of freight on the transport of feed and water to drought affected areas; the transport of stock to agistment from drought affected areas and their return; grants by the States to local government and other authorities for employment purposes; and miscellaneous expenditure by the States including, for example, running costs of additional seeding operations.

Quite apart from such matters, the Commonwealth has provided general revenue assistance to help the States meet budgetary problems arising from the effects of drought on State revenue. An amount of $ 10.75m was provided for this purpose in 1966-67 and a further $13m is to be provided this financial year, of which $3. 8m is estimated to be Victoria’s share. That brings my answer to the. point about which Senator Webster is so concerned. It clearly emerges that both the Commonwealth and the States, nationally and on a State basis, are seised with the seriousness of the position. The Commonwealth, as has always been the case, has entered into an arrangement with the States to help them in the very critical position that has arisen. 1 am quite confident that the Commonwealth will continue its assistance in the future.

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Senator POYSER:

– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth has set aside the decision of Commonwealth Conciliation Commissioner Clarkson which granted equal pay to women employed by Commonwealth Hostels Ltd, is not that action a repudiation of a statement made in the Senate by Mr Gorton, then Leader of the Government in the Senate, in October last, that the matter of equal pay should be decided by wage fixing tribunals? Does this action by the Government also mean that its declaration not to oppose such applications in principle has been repudited?

Senator WRIGHT:

– On a matter such as this, which involves a comparison of previous statements, I would be obliged if the honourable senator would give me notice of bis question.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. It refers to a report from the United Kingdom indicating that there has been a new dislocation of this year’s rocket firing programme at Woomera in South Australia. I might add that we are very pleased that the Minister has already visited Woomera so soon after taking up his appointment. Has the. Minister been officially advised of the British Government’s decision to postpone all three firings in its development programme of the three-stage Black Arrow rocket? If so, has any official reason been given for the postponement until March 1969, and has there been any official statement as to whether there is likely to be any further postponement? Can the Minister say whether such dislocation and postponement will have any effect on the communities, the population and life at Woomera?


– 1 heard a report on the national radio network this morning, and I sought from my Department some confirmation of the statements being broadcast, but so far no official confirmation has come as to the source of those statements. It is true that there have been deferments of Black Arrow and ELDO firings, but it is not true that these have caused any dislocation of this year’s firing programme at Woomera. The range will have a full programme for this year and the deferment could in fact result in a better-balanced programme for the next two years. Australia has been kept fully informed of general progress in these matters, but I am still awaiting some confirmation from my Department as to the particular announcement that T heard this morning.

It is also true that in the short time since my appointment I have visited Woomera and Salisbury. I am tremendously impressed with the magnificent work being done there. As to future programmes, I have already indicated the position for the next 2 years in respect of certain aspects. I think that answers the question asked by the honourable senator.

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Senator McMANUS:

– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Will the Minister make available at the earliest possible moment the text of the treaty said to have been agreed upon by the United States; Britain and the Soviet Union promising to non-nuclear nations protection from -nuclear attack?

Does this treaty mean, for example, that the Soviet Union, with the other parties, promises to protect, if necessary with nuclear weapons, a country threatened with nuclear attack, or so attacked, by Communist China?


– There are certain aspects of the honourable senator’s question which should properly be put on the notice paper. I could make some comment with relation to the non-proliferation treaty and the security guarantee, but because of the very serious nature of this matter, which is of vital importance to us all, I would prefer that the question be placed on notice. I shall thereafter obtain very quickly a considered reply for the honourable senator.

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– I note that this question is in the same general terms as one asked in another place and answered by the Attorney-General a short time ago, but 1 do not undertake to give an answer in the detail that he gave. There is not so much conflict as lack of uniformity between the States in this matter. Some States, such as Victoria and Tasmania, have conservation laws, while other States do not have them. Again, there are definite variations in the areas affected by this problem. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth Government has been conscious of the strong public feeling on the subject and of the widespread criticism that has appeared in recent times. Several years ago the Prime Minister tried to arrange a conference between the States to discuss the control and conservation of kangaroos. Regrettably, it was not possible to reach agreement at that conference - not even agreement between the Premiers as to the need for the meeting. lt is recognised that the killing of kangaroos in some pastoral areas is quite necessary at certain times, particularly when they have become a menace to our national economy by menacing our primary industries. Nevertheless, the kangaroos having been killed, it is obvious that the economic side of disposal of the meat is involved. This is a matter falling within the portfolio of the Minister for Primary Industry, as I understand it. The Commonwealth Government does not encourage the export of kangaroo meat but it is a fact of life that sales of kangaroo meat are being made. The Minister for Customs and Excise would be able to tell honourable senators of the prohibition against the export of live kangaroos without his specific consent, which is not lightly given. This matter is attended to by the Minister himself - he does not delegate the authority - and he gives his consent only in rare circumstances involving bona fide pets or in other cases of that nature.

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Senator LAUGHT:

– I ask the Minister for Works whether there is a move to standardise building regulations throughout Australia. If so, what stage has this project reached? Are any factors or problems delaying its completion? If the delay is due to drafting, will the Minister consider the employment of draftsmen outside the Government employment?

Senator WRIGHT:

– I recall that some 2 or 3 years ago the honourable senator asked a question on this subject of my predecessor, the present Prime Minister, and that it was then indicated that while the obtaining of uniformity of building laws throughout Australia was a very complex matter involving not only State but also local government instrumentalities, the Commonwealth authority was using its influence to this end. According to the information given to me, it is not a drafting problem that is causing the delay; it is the complex problem of achieving government agreement on a very technical matter. The usefulness of the objective, of course, is recognised, as we believe that it would contribute greatly to a reduction of building costs.

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– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External

Affairs: What happens to prisoners of war captured by Australians in Vietnam? Are they handed over to the South Vietnamese forces without consideration of their future? Will the Minister make a statement on whether it is intended to hold an inquiry into the report of brutalities against’ prisoners of war captured by Australian forces in Vietnam? If he will, when will the statement be made?


– If the honourable senator is referring to a specific case that has received some publicity in the last few days I can tell him and the Senate that at present the Minister for the Army, very properly, is gathering all the various reports and information on that matter. The Prime Minister has indicated that when all of that information has been gathered by the Minister and has been examined and evaluated the Minister will make a statement to the Parliament. The Prime Minister also has indicated that that should occur reasonably soon.

Senator Cavanagh:

– What happens to prisoners of war generally?


– If the honourable senator puts on the notice paper the part of his question that deals with prisoners of war generally I will obtain a reply for him as expeditiously as possible.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate mainly because I believe that in view of our common experience he will consider it, in the name of humanity and conscience. Let me say by way of preface that everyone must be alarmed and concerned at the growing ferocity and brutality of modern warfare and the fact that excesses even exceeding those of the Nazis against the Jewish people are occurring at present in South East Asia. I ask the Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a photograph which appeared in the newspapers of the nation and which showed a Vietnamese prisoner of war, with his hands tied behind his back, being publicly shot by a South Vietnamese general. In view of the fact that prisoners of war captured by Australian forces in Vietnam are being handed over to the South Vietnamese Army authorities for detention, will the Minister give an assurance that the terms and conditions of the

Geneva Convention are observed in the treatment of such prisoners?


– Quite clearly I will have to refer that question to the Minister for External Affairs. I ask the honourable senator to place it on the notice paper.

Senator O’Byrne:

– Did the Leader of the Government see the photograph?


– No, I did not. 1 see many photographs, but in order to answer the question I would want more particulars than the honourable senator has given. Quite clearly his main question should be referred to the Minister for External Affairs, and I will do that.

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Senator TANGNEY:

– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As I have asked similar questions many times during the last 18 years I hope that the new Leader of the Government will be able to give me a satisfactory answer. In view of the intense difficulties being experienced once again as a result, of national disasters - floods in some States, droughts in others - will the Minister give some consideration to the setting up of a national disaster fund not only to help the victims of such disasters but also to finance through a national disaster authority research into methods of preventing or abating such disasters in the future?


- Mr President, I regret that I must adhere to the tradition of the last 18 years. Quite clearly, the honourable senator has asked me a question concerning policy. The question of whether or not any Government would set up a fund for a particular cause, be it ever so worthy, is a matter of Government policy. I am not competent at the moment to answer the question, nor would it be in order under the Standing Orders to do so.

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– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the worldwide increase in the number of oil tanker mishaps resulting in serious beach pollution, including a recent incident in Fremantle Harbour, does the Government intend to devise an effective safety code to curb such happenings based on the experience gained by the British Government in the Torrey Canyon’ disaster? Furthermore, has the legal position been clarified to ensure that liability for damage so caused rests exclusively on the shoulders of the oil company owning the tanker involved in the pollution?

Senator SCOTT:
Minister for Customs and Excise · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The Government is aware of the problems associated with oil pollution in Australia and knows full well the consequences of oil pollution in other parts of the world. At the end of February there was a conference at which State and Federal authorities were represented by responsible officers. This question was given critical examination. The Minister for Shipping and Transport and officers of his Department currently are studying the results of this conference. I will draw the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport to the question asked by the honourable senator, and ask him to provide an answer. I am sure that he will be pleased to provide the honourable senator with further information which may become available.

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– Is the Minister for Works aware that a number of maintenance personnel who, until recently, were engaged on important maintenance work at the Williamtown Royal Australian Air Force base in New South Wales, have been put on to other Commonwealth duties away from the Newcastle area because the allocation of maintenance moneys for defence work on this base has been exhausted? When is it expected that additional finance will come to hand to enable the work involved to be resumed? Will the Minister press the Government to ensure that, in the future, sufficient funds will be made available at all times to ensure the proper maintenance of Australian defence establishments?

Senator WRIGHT:

Mr President, I am aware that eighteen maintenance personnel from the airport mentioned by the honourable senator have been transferred to other duties. The reason for this action is not in any way whatever associated with the availability of defence funds. The reason is to make the men available for maintenance work required by other departments in adjacent areas. There is no factual basis for the suggestion that there is a lack of funds for the proper maintenance of defence works in the country.

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Senator KEEFFE:

– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is not supplementary to that asked a few moments ago by Senator McManus. Will the Minister inform the Parliament whether it is the intention of the Government to sign the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in view of the fact that both the United States of America and Russia have agreed already to sign this important document? If the Government does not intend to sign the treaty of behalf of Australia, will the Minister inform the Parliament of the precise reason or reasons why the Government refuses to sign it?


– If the honourable senator is referring to the non-proliferation treaty and security guarantee agreement, I can say that the situation at the present time is that the final form of the draft agreement and draft Security Council resolution is not yet known. Government departments have for some time been engaged in an active study of the issues involved and also in a careful study of events in other countries, including particular countries in the Asian and Pacific regions. Australia has in the past made it clear that it is in favour ofan effective agreement which would prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and this constitutes a significant step in the direction of overall arms control. The question whether the Government will find the current proposals desirable cannot be decided until the final form of the agreement is known and all the issues have been carefully weighed. I do not think anybody would cavil at that position. We are still getting information in relation to the matter, and no doubt the honourable senator or some other honourable senator will at the appropriate time ask a question in relation to it.

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TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970

– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. It has been stated by the Prime Minister that our armed forces in Vietnam would not exceed 8,000. Yesterday we were informed that the figure was over 8,000. 1 want to know how much over.


– I think in the circumstances, as this is a question of precision, it should be placed on notice, and would be more appropriately directed to the Minister for the Army.

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Senator WEBSTER:

– I wish to refer to a question I asked earlier of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Perhaps my question was not sufficiently clear to enable the Minister to reply precisely to it. I refer to representations made by the Victorian Government, the Graziers Association of Victoria, the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association and the Victorian Dairy Farmers Association, all of which were forwarded to the Prime Minister during February. These representations requested the Commonwealth Government to subsidise to the extent of 50% the price of wheat purchased from the Australian Wheat Board by Victorian stock owners in declared drought areas as feed for breeding stock. I take it that the Government would be well, aware of the situation, as the Minister has outlined the ‘many areas in which the Commonwealth Government has assisted generally in time of drought. This is a particular request which needs an urgent reply as it involves the ability of a large number of Victorian farmers to retain breeding stock over the winter period. If the Minister is unable to give the Senate a reply at this stage, will he give an assurance that a reply will be given to this House at the first opportunity?


– Quite clearly I cannot give assurances about specific matters directed to the Prime Minister or any other Minister whom I may represent. However, I promise to submit the supplementary question directed by the honourable senator to the Prime Minister. As the whole of the Senate will naturally be interested in the matter, I suggest he place the question on the notice paper.

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– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: What arrangements were made by the Government for Australia’s representation at the Mauritius independence celebrations?


Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin represented the Commonwealth Government. As the honourable senator can see, she is not here today. I announced in the Senate yesterday that she was representing the Commonwealth at these celebrations. I understand she will return to Australia late tomorrow afternoon.

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– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services ask the Minister for Social Services to make a statement explaining why it is that when pensioners want to reside in another country their pension entitlements do not follow them to that country?


– As the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services is not present today I shall refer the question to the Minister for Social Services.

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Senator WEBSTER:

– Will the Minister for Works ensure that while he is Minister for Works his Department will give the closest attention to the use of Australian consultants, both architects and engineers, in the field of feasibility studies of major works within Australia so that a wealth of knowledge will be built up within companies and partnerships which are Australian owned and controlled?

Senator WRIGHT:

– I do not know what implication I. should draw from the temporal expression that was associated with the reference to my office, but with regard to the employment by my Department of professional consultants, such as architects and engineers, I have no doubt that the honourable senator has noted the growth of the appropriation for this item over the last 6 or 7 years. Indeed, if my recollection is correct, it amounts to $2.6m out of an appropriation for administrative expenses of between $40m and $49m. The item therefore is a cost item of considerable concern. The Department’s policy is to employ. Australian consultants as much as possible but it is imperative that it has completely skilled work in regard to specialties. Therefore on occasions it is necessary to employ overseas consultants so as to introduce skills which have been more developed overseas than in this country.

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Senator BISHOP:

– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Do the administrative changes involving the setting up of a special Cabinet Secretariat and the appointment of Mr Hewitt as head of the changed Prime Minister’s Department indicate the Government’s dissatisfaction with senior public servants or do they establish a new policy which is likely to affect the seniority rights of senior public servants?


– The answer to the first part of the question is: No. Quite clearly this is a new arrangement to expedite the growing volume of work that is inherent in such a department. As Australia becomes more important in world affairs and in terms of our growth and development the burdens which are placed on the Prime Minister himself, on his Department and indeed on the Cabinet are, to put it mildly, tremendous. This arrangement has been entered into in order to enable progress and development to be facilitated.

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Senator McMANUS:

– I ask a question of the Minister for Works. Is it a fact that remodelling of the old Customs House, Melbourne, so that it will be available as Commonwealth Parliament Offices is scheduled for completion in May 1969? As the Department of Customs and Excise vacated the building months ago and as plans and details of proposed alterations were made available to senators and members over a year ago, what is the reason for the long delay?

Senator WRIGHT:

– I regret to inform the honourable senator that I have not the information which he requests, but it will be provided at the earliest opportunity.

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Senator TANGNEY:

– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware that in Western Australia in recent months several civilian widows with children have been fined for not notifying the Department of Social Services of earnings in excess of those allowed to persons in receipt of civilian widows pensions? Since such cases indicate the inadequacy of the pensions, will the Minister give consideration to a review and revaluation of such pensions before the next Budget so that mothers are not forced to break the law in order to secure a fair deal for their children?


– I am sorry that the honourable senator has married the situation in which certain civilian widows are being dealt with because of some failure in relation to permissible income to a request for some improvement in social service benefits because I think that the two matters are quite separate. I am sure we all regret the circumstances in which some civilian widows find themselves as a result of an act . of their own. But regarding the main question which the honourable senator asked, it is significant that she always asks this question at about this time of the year, prior to budgetary considerations. I can only give her the answer that is always given, which is that the question of social service benefits or of payments from the National Welfare Fund is clearly one of policy that has to be considered, along with all other matters, in the budgetary situation. It can be taken for granted that will be done at the normal time and in the normal way.

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– 1 desire to ask a question of the Minister for Works. 1 preface my question by congratulating the Minister on his appointment and sympathising wilh him regarding the amount of work that we seem to have given him during question time today. Is it a fact that the additions to Adelaide Airport will not have air conditioning? Will the building contain a public bar? Will the Minister obtain reports of average temperatures in Adelaide in order to ascertain the number of days on which occupancy of the additional building will be unbearable?

Senator WRIGHT:

– 1 shall be very pleased to obtain information regarding those matters for the honourable senator. I do not have it in my head.

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– My question which is directed to the Minister for Works is supplementary to the earlier question that I asked and to the answer that I received. If funds are in fact available for the employment of maintenance personnel at the Williamtown Air Force base, can the Minister say to what sort of work the eighteen maintenance workers to whom he previously referred were transferred? Is maintenance work available at the Air Force base? Is it considered that the work on which these men are presently engaged is more important than the maintenance of this defence establishment? I repeat the question I asked earlier: When is it expected that these men will be returned to carry out the important work at Williamtown?

Senator WRIGHT:

– I trust there will be some understanding of one’s inability to deal in detail with the work allotment of some eighteen maintenance men. In the time available I have been able to obtain information to the effect, that they have been directed to maintenance work for other departments in adjacent areas. I would infer that that work is of a similar nature to the maintenance work they were engaged upon at the defence establishment. I infer also that the time required for that other work will be brief. The intention is that they will be returned to the defence work immediately upon completion of the other departmental work. That is all the information I have at my disposal.

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Senator MURPHY:

– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government. Leaving aside the issue of past torturing of prisoners in Vietnam, will the Minister assure the Senate that the Government has taken effective steps to prevent the torture or ill-treatment of prisoners in Vietnam and to permit the handing over of prisoners in Vietnam only where there is every safeguard against their torture or ill-treatment?


– It can be said without qualification that the Government does not countenance torture under any circumstances, and to the extent that there may be an implication, perhaps not intended, in the question of the Leader of the Opposition-

Senator MURPHY:

– I said, ‘leaving aside that issue’.


– Well, that means that it should not have been mentioned. As to the other matters contained in the question, I indicated earlier that a second hand report has been published in another country relating to a particular case. As the Prime Minister has indicated in another place, the Minister for the Army is examining and evaluating the known facts of this matter and any inferences that may flow from them. In a very short time he will make a statement to the Parliament which will deal with the matters which have been raised by inference by the Leader of the Opposition.


– My question to the Leader of the Government relates to that just asked by the Leader of the Opposition. Will the Minister assure the Senate that in future there will be no brutality towards any prisoner of war captured by Australian forces and that the safety of future prisoners of war will be assured in accordance with the Geneva Convention?


– That is a hypothetical question and therefore I need not reply to it. However I shall repeat the facts. The Australian Government does not countenance torture under any circumstances. The Government’s history and statements that have been made by past Prime Ministers and Ministers for External Affairs have made that abundantly clear.

Senator BISHOP:

– I ask a supplementary question of the Leader of the Government which relates to a public inquiry into the allegations of torture of a prisoner of war. Has the Minister seen the Press report today which states that the Department of the Army has recommended against a public inquiry? Is the report true? Does the Minister agree with the reasons advanced by the Department of the Army, namely, that such an inquiry should be held in camera for security reasons?


– I have not seen the Press report. In any case I think it would be very dangerous to answer questions on the basis of Press reports. Having said that, I return to the point I made earlier. The Minister for the Army will deal with this matter in the National Parliament in due course.

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Senator WRIGHT:

– by leave- I should like to supplement the answer I gave earlier to Senator Webster in relation to consultants’ fees. As I said, the amount of consultants’ fees was $2. 6m but that must be viewed in the context of administrative expenditure of $28.2m, not $40m to $49m as 1 mentioned.

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Minister for Supply · New South Wales · LP

– For the information of honourable senators I present the following paper:

Report of Royal Commissioners on statement of Lieutenant-Commander Cabban.

Arrangements have been made for the exhibits, with the exception of those which the Royal Commissioners directed should not be made public, to be available in the Parliamentary Library.

Senator MURPHY:
New South WalesLeader of the Opposition

– by leave - I move:

I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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Avionics Workshop at the Naval Air Station, HMAS ‘Albatross’, Nowra, New South Wales

Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:

Avionics Workshop at the Naval Air Station, HMAS ‘Albatross’, Nowra, New South Wales.

I ask for leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator PROWSE:

– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:

  1. There is a need to erect a modem avionics workshop at HMAS ‘Albatross’.
  2. The site selected is suitable.
  3. The Committee recommends the construction of the work in this reference.
  4. The estimated cost of the proposed work when referred to the Committee was $530,000.

Melville Rehabilitation Centre, Western Australia

Senator PROWSE:

– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:

Melville Rehabilitation Centre, Western Australia.

I ask for leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator PROWSE:

– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:

  1. The facilities which the buildings in this reference are designed to replace do not now provide an appropriate standard of accommodation.
  2. There is a need for the buildings in this reference.
  3. In the near future it will be necessary to replace the physiotherapy block and provide new workshop and occupational therapy units and additional living accommodation for the staff.
  4. lt is reasonable for the planning of the redevelopment of the Melville Rehabilitation Centre to be based on the treatment of 100 patients daily.
  5. The Committee recommends the construction of the works in this reference.
  6. The estimated cost of this work when referred to the Committee was $700,000.
  7. The additional client requirements vis, boundary fence and airconditioning in the administrative and medical block are necessary. The Committee recommends the inclusion of the extra items in the present reference at an additional cost of $25,000.
  8. The design of the boundary fence should be consistent with the residential environment of the Centre.
  9. While construction is in progress there will be interference with training and treatment and the efficiency of the Rehabilitation Service will thus be lowered.
  10. The design and construction of the second and third stages of the rebuilding programme should be accelerated so that the whole programme can be completed concurrently.

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Senator PROWSE:
Western Australia

– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:

Technical Testing and Laboratory Centre at Garden Island, New South Wales. ] ask for leave to make a short statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator PROWSE:

– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:

  1. The present proposal does not conflict with the draft master plan.
  2. The Committee was asked to investigate and report on the present preference before the master plan was cleared by the Government.
  3. There is a need for the proposed Technical Testing and Laboratory Centre.
  4. The construction of the work in this reference is recommended.
  5. The estimated cost of the work when referred to the Committee was $570,000.

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Senator WOOD:

– I present the report of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory relating to rural lands.

Senator COTTON (New South Wales)by leave -I move:

That the Senate take note of the report. 1 ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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Ministerial Statement

Minister for Supply · New South Wales · LP

– by leave - In conjunction with its consideration of the report of the Royal Commissioners, the Government has given much thought to the position of Captain R. J. Robertson. On his resignation in 1964, Captain Robertson was ineligible for any pension from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and received only the repayment of his own contributions to the Fund. As honourable senators are well aware no Service Board, either in 1964 or now, has authority to grant pensions. Provision for pensions in all three Services is made in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-66. The Naval Board in 1964 could only ensure that Captain Robertson was aware of the consequences of his decision to resign and this it did.

No officer of the armed Services is entitled to resign and claim his full pension merely because he is dissatisfied with a particular appointment. However it is widely felt that Captain Robertson resigned as and when he did because of certain critical findings made by the first Royal Commission and that, in the special circumstances of this case, the second Royal Commission having accepted a different reconstruction of the accident and having said that Captain Robertson was free of any criticism, the Government should take some action recognising the changed position.

The Government has now decided that a payment should be made to Captain Robertson and in reaching this conclusion necessarily had to take a broad view. Whilst paying some regard to the pension which Captain Robertson might have received in certain eventualities if he had not resigned as and when he did, the Government did not regard this as the sole criterion. Other factors also had to be taken into consideration. Having considered various ways in which this payment might be made the Government decided that payment of a lump sum, as an act of grace, would be the most appropriate and the Government has now decided to authorise payment accordingly of $60,000. In reaching this decision the Government took into account advice from the Commissioner of Taxation that he would regard payment made in the form proposed as being free of income tax.

Motion (by Senator Wright) - by leave - proposed:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Senator Anderson) adjourned.

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Ministerial Statement

Senator WRIGHT:
Minister for Works · Tasmania · LP

– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate of certain decisions that the

Government has taken in relation to the death penalty under the laws of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Honourable senators will be aware that a comprehensive review of the criminal law in the two Territories is being made, a review that requires consideration to be given to the proper penalty applicable to various offences. This, of its nature, is a lengthy task. In the meantime some eight offences in addition to murder under the laws of the Australian Capital Territory carry the death penalty. This scale of penalties for crimes is the most severe that can be found in Australia. Also, the laws of the Northern Territory require the death penalty for the offence of piracy as well as for murder. The Government has decided to take action to repeal the death penalty for these lesser offences.

The eight offences, other than murder, under the laws of the Australian Capital Territory for which the death penalty is required are as follows: piracy with violence; certain attempts to murder; rape; carnal knowledge of a girl under 10 years of age; breaking and entering a dwelling house and while therein assaulting with intent to murder or inflicting grievous bodily harm; maliciously setting fire to any dwelling house, vehicle or aircraft, knowing any person to be in such dwelling house, vehicle or aircraft; maliciously setting fire to, or casting away, or by any means destroying any vessel which is afloat, any person being in such vessel; and maliciously masking, altering or removing any light or signal with intent to bring any vessel or boat into danger.

In considering what penalties to substitute for the death penalty the Government examined the penalties for these offences in the Australian States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Except in relation to piracy in New South Wales and Western Australia, capital punishment is not provided for any of the offences. In all cases of rape in the Australian Capital Territory, the death penalty when pronounced has, in the past, been commuted to sentences of imprisonment.

In the result, the Government has decided to substitute the penalty of life imprisonment in respect of the eight offences listed. The necessary amendments to the law of the Australian Capital Territory will be made by the Crimes Ordinance 1968, which will be gazetted tomorrow and which will come into force on 15th March 1968. The amendments will be effective in respect of all convictions to be made by the courts on or after that date, whether or not the offences concerned were committed before that date.

The Government has also decided to introduce into the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory in its next session a Bill to amend the laws of that Territory to provide for the abolition of the death penalty for piracy. The offence of treason is an offence in the two Territories and as treason is already dealt with under Commonwealth law it has also been decided to repeal this offence as it exists under the laws of both Territories. I present the following paper:

Death Penalty in Territories - Ministerial Statement, 13 March 1968.

South Australia

– by leave - I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted: debate adjourned.

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Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:

That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be Three o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and Eleven o’clock in the forenoon of Thursday.

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Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:

That, during the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the Whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

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Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:

That, during the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not’ being broadcast, and at 11 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put tha Question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which Question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the Question - That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the Question- That the Senate do now adjourn - which Question shall be open to debate: Provided that it the Senate or the Committee be in Division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the Question referred to until the result of such Division has been declared; and if the Business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the Notice Paper for the next sitting day.

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Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the moving of motions forthwith for the re-appointment of the Senate Select Committees on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes, the Metric System of Weights and Measures, and Off-Shore Petroleum Resources.

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Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:

That the Committee known as the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes, constituted by resolutions of the Senate passed on 5 April and 11 April 1967, be reconstituted, with the same functions and powers;

That the Committee consist of Senator Cormack (Chairman), and- Senators Bishop, Branson, Bull, Cavanagh, Gair, Lillico and Wheeldon;

That the Committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes appointed in the previous session;

That the Committee report to the Senate on or before 30 June 1968;

That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.

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Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to: That the Committee known as the Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures, constituted by resolutions of the Senate passed on 5 April and 11 April 1967, be reconstituted, with the same functions and powers;

That the Committee consist of Senator Laught (Chairman), and Senators Benn, Sir Walter Cooper, Drury, McManus, Marriott, Poyser and Sim;

That the Committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures appointed in the previous session;

That the Committee report to the Senate on or before 30 June 1968;

That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.

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Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:

That the Committee known as the Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources, constituted by resolutions of the Senate . passed on 8 November 1967, be re-constituted.

That the Committee consist of Senators Cam, Cotton, Gair, Greenwood, Heatley, O’Byrne and Webster with the same functions and powers;

That the Committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources appointed in the previous Session;

That the Committee report to the Senate as soon as possible.

That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.

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Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave - agreed to:

That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution so as to require that the Members of the Houses of Parliament of tha States shall be chosen directly and democratically by the people of the States.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

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The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- In calling Senator Laucke, I remind the Senate that this will be the honourable senator’s maiden speech.

Senator LAUCKE:
South Australia

– I move:

That the following Address-in-Reply to tha Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:

May It Please YOUR Excellency:

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

As I present this motion 1 am deeply mindful that I am privileged to take part in a procedure which has marked the openings of parliamentary sessions throughout the history of the sovereign States and of the National Parliament and, indeed, through centuries of parliamentary government in the Mother of Parliaments. One therefore could not be insensible of the great honour and privilege which attaches to being invited to put this motion before the Senate today, and I put it with deep humility and respect.

Here we have an opportunity of again expressing our loyalty to our Sovereign Lady and our gratitude to His Excellency for the part he played yesterday on behalf of Her Gracious Majesty in the opening of the second session of the Twenty-sixth Parliament. 1 spontaneously and most heartily express both. It would be, I believe, presumption on my part to add anything to the words of thanks I proffer to His Excellency. Suffice it to say how intensely proud I was to hear this great man, this great Australian, deliver to us yesterday afternoon the thinking and plans of his Ministers in that most impressive ceremony which was conducted in this chamber.

I feci that this address is not a cold formality marking the inauguration of a traditional Address-in-Reply debate, in which any matter may be discussed. It is, I feel, vibrant with all the feelings we hold most dear as a people and as a nation. In our expression of loyalty and thanks there is inextricably interwoven a deep and abiding gratitude for an appreciation of our great heritage, the parliamentary institution. Thank heaven that we are privileged and free to maintain the traditions and tenets of our democratic system of government. As we view the world scene today and notice how nations with systems of government other than ours, in many instances masquerading as the champions of liberty, are nothing less than ruthless, unprincipled, dictatorial, selfish regimes bent on imposing their ways on others, we can give real thanks for our heritage wherein right is might and where freedom of the individual is observed, respected and maintained. How different from the dictatorial nonparliamentary assessment that might is right. It is in this spirit of loyalty and thankfulness that

I present this motion and I thank the Leader of the Government in this place (Senator Anderson) for the opportunity he has given me to present it. One of the darkest and saddest days in our country’s history was 17th December of last year, the day when a cruel sea claimed the Right Honourable Harold Holt, our late Prime Minister, in whose character was found so much that we as Australians would find immediate response to. His passing was like losing a member of one’s own family. He liked, and gave a fair go to, everyone. Great, warm and moving tributes were paid in this place and in another yesterday afternoon, as well as in St Paul’s Cathedral at Mr Holt’s memorial service in words and in presence. I wish only to endorse the sentiments already expressed and to say that Mrs Holt has magnificently shown and reflected the strength, courage, kindliness and understanding of her late husband. To her and the members of her family my deepest sympathy is extended.

As this is the first opportunity I have had of addressing the Senate I wish at once to pay tribute to the memory of the late Senator Hannaford, whom 1 had known from my childhood days. Whilst I could not always see eye to eye with the late Senator I respected his sincerity and courage and admired his kindly character. I very much regretted his untimely passing, and my deepest sympathy has gone to his widow and his family.

I wish to place on record my keen appreciation of the confidence shown in me by the Parliament of South Australia in electing me to fill the unexpired portion of the late senator’s term. It shall be my constant endeavour to be found worthy of this confidence.

I was very impressed yesterday afternoon with the tribute paid to the late Mr E. J. Holloway and also wish to pay my respects to the departed former member of Parliament and to condole with members of the Opposition in whose party the late right honourable gentleman served the nation so well. 1 wish to take this opportunity of congratulating Mr John Gorton on his election as Leader of the Liberal Party and his assumption of the office of Prime Minister. I wish him well in the discharge of his duties as leader of this nation. Further in this vein, I tender congratulations to Senator Wright and Senator Scott on their elevation to the Ministry, to Senator Anderson on his elevation to the Ministry of Supply and as Leader of the Government in this chamber, and to Senator Greenwood on his election to this place. The name of Henty has long been honourably associated with this place, as it has with Australian history. As I see the honourable gentleman in a different seat today, I am mindful of the great contributions to good government that he has made through the years in this place.

His Excellency’s Speech appealed to me as a down to earth, factual statement of matters vital to the nation, both at home and abroad. In my opinion it constitutes a document of great significance spelling out in plain and direct terms the plans and policies of a government determined to give a clear lead to the country in matters of local and overseas concern. If ever there were a time in our history when values and assessments must be kept in a commonsense perspective and our feet firmly on the ground, that time is surely now. I am pleased to note words in His Excellency’s Speech which epitomise the Government’s approach to keeping values and assessments in their right perspective. I want to quote first from that portion of His Excellency’s Address relative to our presence in Vietnam. It is a sober, sound and factual statement which should be repeated and noted far and wide. His Excellency said:

My Government will continue the support accorded to the United States of America and the Government of South Vietnam in an endeavour to ensure that aggression by force of arms, terrorism and subversion is not successful in subjecting the people of South Vietnam to rule by an aggressor.

My Government believes that the South Vietnamese people should retain the elementary right to determine their own future in their own way and will, besides the effective military assistance it is rendering to this end, continue to provide economic and civil aid to South Vietnam.

In doing this, my Government desires neither the destruction of North Vietnam, nor the overthrow of the Government of North Vietnam but merely the cessation of aggression against the people of South Vietnam so that those people may, by the exercise of a franchise they have shown they know how to exercise even under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances, choose their own form of government. We seek a just and lasting peace based on these objectives. We have supported and will support every effort for negotiation of such a peace.

Further, let me quote these words with reference to defence:

The cost of providing such defence will this year be over $1,100m, and will rise in the coming 2 years as a result of commitments already entered into and expansions already made. This represents a very significant proportion of available resources and any further increase in the proportion of total resources devoted to defence in the future will need to be considered against the other pressing requirements of this nation.

The exacting demands on the Government are underlined by those words. It must decide where the balance lies. How far can we help our neighbours while still retaining and expanding our potential ability to support such aid? We must never lose sight of the domestic needs of our own people. I support the Government in its basic intentions as expressed in the passages I have just quoted from His Excellency’s Speech. The sound, sober, factual and satisfying statements on the part that we are playing in Vietnam - the civic action programme of building roads, market places and schools, the carrying out of health surveys and the provision of medical services and water supply .and drainage services - together with the expressed readiness of the nation for continued consultations with the Governments of the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand, all add up to the establishment of a framework of regional understanding, cooperation and security in South East Asia. This appeals to me strongly and has my full support. We must strain every nerve and muscle towards further understanding and co-operation with our near neighbours.

Reference is made in His Excellency’s Speech to the high rate of development of the country’s natural resources and the expansion of the mineral industry which is contributing significantly to the national economy. Mineral exports in 1967-68 are estimated at $485m, and within a few years will rise to $l,000ni. This is excellent, but I issue a warning that it would be highly dangerous and quite unreal, in this newfound source of strength to our economy, to minimise the vital importance to our general wellbeing in the past of the part played by our rural industries in earning our overseas credits, together with our rising secondary industry exports. Our primary and secondary industries are complementary to one another, and they should never be antagonistic. In these, one hand washes the other. The primary and secondary industries will continue to be the real sinews of this nation for many years to come.

In the rural sector, which has provided most of our exports, the problem of rising costs and smaller margins has to be faced. One cannot go on telling the primary producers that they must increase efficiency. With few exceptions, our primary industries are as efficient as any in the world. There is a limit to the ability to render a given industry more efficient. Our research organisations, such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Waite Research Institute and Roseworthy College in South Australia, have contributed most significantly to greater efficiency in rural industries. I was pleased to sec last year the grant of over $500,000 to Roseworthy College for the construction of another building and supply of equipment and other facilities to further the technical training at this college.

When one considers the very dry conditions now prevailing in Australia and those which prevailed in the past season, it is pleasing to note that production has been maintained so that, despite the extremely dry season, there was still a wheat harvest of 280 million bushels. I have no doubt that this achievement reflects the benefits accruing to the nation from the money spent on scientific research into rust resistant and drought resistant wheats. Our fathers would have found it impossible to achieve the same results with the apparatus, equipment and knowledge at their disposal. I give full marks to what has been achieved for our rural industries through our research organisations.

The total value of our exports of rural products last year was slightly more than $2,000m. The wool industry earned a very large part of that amount, and a reduction in th» earnings from that source would affect the living standards of everyone. The bugbear of ever increasing costs presents the greatest challenge and concern to our rural industries and the economy. Every consideration should be given to devising ways and means of easing or countering the effects of these increases on the producers either directly or indirectly.

I believe that the Government’s decision not to devalue our currency when Great

Britain devalued hers was right. It reflects the strength of our dollar and also emphasises our ability now to run our affairs independently. However, it would be most unfair to have a section of the community directly disadvantaged by the British devaluation carrying the burden itself. I therefore welcome the Government’s action in immediately recompensing the wheat industry for the immediate effects of devaluation and appointing special committees to examine the position of both rural and secondary industries directly affected, with, a view to giving assistance in those areas that suffered direct loss. Our dairy industry and dried and canned fruits industries come directly to mind in this connection.

I wish to make particular reference to the present very difficult situation in which the fruit canning industry finds itself. Canning is an integral part of the fruit growing industry. It therefore is a vitally important part of the whole activity of fruit growing. The canning industry has built itself up out of its own resources and has an internal efficiency that is high on world standards. But today it is facing financial distress. Consideration must be given to alleviating that condition. Short term assistance could have beneficial long term results for fresh fruit and ultimately for its disposal in canned form. The United States of America has set up in its Department of Agriculture a producer co-operative service which keeps in constant touch with producer cooperatives, assists in research and advising, maintains close liaison with government and recommends the provision of finance where required. A similar set-up in Australia would be a boon to producers and in the long run to the whole economy. Producer co-operative organisations play a very important part in the rural economy of South Australia, particularly in our Riverland irrigation areas.

I refer now to a matter that could be of real assistance to our rural industries generally, namely the provision of drought bonds as a means of producers overcoming the immediate bad effects of drought. The heavy impact of drought, which is well known to all of us in Australia today, emphasises the desirability of further facilitating the creation of monetary reserves in the hands of primary producers to meet contingencies, such as drought, which recur in rural industries. As I move around the rural community in South Australia I often hear of the need for greater facility for individual ability to plan ahead in order to tide one over adverse seasons of low income. The primary producers do not want handouts; rather do they want the ability to help themselves. I agree that this selfhelp approach is the right one.

Thinking on these lines has been crystallised and proposals have been presented by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and considered by other organisations. The proposals have much merit. They have been stated in the following form:

The Council proposes for consideration the establishment by the Commonwealth Government of a bond scheme operating in conjunction with averaging of income and called ‘Drought Fund’, the scheme to operate under the following conditions:

That a taxpayer be entitled to purchase Drought Reserve Bonds and to deduct from his income the amount so invested in any year;

That the bonds carry interest at a rate sufficient to encourage this form of investment;

That the interest be taxable in the year of receipt;

That the term of each bond be not less than 7 years; provided that the taxpayer have the right to redeem the bond earlier to meet drought requirements or extraordinary circumstances and that the bonds be assessable in the year of redemption;

That no taxpayer be permitted to have invested in such bonds a total sum exceeding 150% of his average income of the previous 6 years; provided that the Commissioner of Taxation shall have a descretion to authorise a higher total investment in circumstances where, by reason of loss years or years of sub-normal income, the average of the previous 6 years is not representative of the normal average;

That the bonds be not transferable;

That the bonds be redeemable on death or retirement of a taxpayer from the industry, that the taxpayer have the option to spread the receipt over up to 3 years and that there be provision for the estate of a deceased taxpayer to use the reserves for the purpose for which they were created.

The Council’s concept is that the reserves should be available to meet other types of rural contingency than drought and, therefore, the term Rural Contingency Reserve Bonds’ may be more appropriate.

I trust that the Government will give those proposals full consideration.

I refer now to the high importance of water to South Australia. Experience throughout Australia in recent years has emphasised the fact that growth and development are directly qualified by the availability of water. South Australia is the driest State of the Commonwealth. Only 10% of its land surface enjoys an annual rainfall of 10 inches or more. We South Australians are most conscious of the fact that by 1970 our overall development will have reached its optimum on the present availability of water. Actually, at present permits for water for irrigation area extensions are not being granted. Our rural industries have been developed by the laying of about 11,000 miles of trunk mains. Our industries at Whyalla depend on water from the Murray. Through these pipelines water is supplied to Woomera. In fact, in years such as this year, when our normal catchments are unable to meet the demands, 95% of the people of South Australia rely on water pumped from the Murray.

Surely we must realise how vitally important it is for us to ensure that we have a major base for our water. That major base is the Chowilla Dam. It would give us an expansion box, as it were, at the top end of the Murray. South Australia has no rivers of any consequence other than the Murray. It is our only big river and we are at the tail end of it. Chowilla would give us the ability to maintain the flow in the Murray below the dam. At the present time we are deeply conscious of the adverse affects that we are experiencing in our irrigation areas and beyond, where this water is used, through the high saline content of that water. An ample supply of water of good quality via the Murray River is basic to the very existence of South Australia and to its progress as a State in industry, both primary and secondary, and to increased population. This, Sir, is a question that I regard as of the very highest priority for our State at the present time.

I turn now to the matter of transport. Situated as we are now, no longer on the extreme western fringe of development but rather in the centre of it, South Australia must be linked up with the standard gauge railway system which will operate from Sydney to Perth. I hope that there will be no delay in ensuring that our industry in Adelaide has the benefit of direct rail communication in the overall scheme which, when completed, will link Perth to Brisbane.

May I now say a word on decentralisation. The persistent trend towards the centralisation of industry and population in our cities is a most undesirable one. I believe that little more than lip service has been given to a national approach to this problem, lt will be only when real and tangible incentive is given to decentralisation that we will achieve a better spread of population and industry. Taxation incentive is the only real answer to ensure effective decentralisation of industry. I speak on this subject, not preaching the virtues of decentralisation, but as one who has practised it privately and who realises the need for an industry to give due consideration to its profitability prospects in given situations or areas.

Where there is a prospect of an industry standing on its own feet in an area away front a metropolis, wherever it may be, that is of real value to the nation as a whole. The natural resources required must be available. Industry must be given the encouragement and the incentive to ensure that people will leave the metropolitan areas and establish industries in areas away from the cities.

Further to my argument, may I add a word on the place of the small business man in the scheme of things? I am very concerned at the situation in which the small man in business today finds himself. 1 regard the rugged, independent individual as the salt of the earth. I was pleased indeed to’ know that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), recently had stated that the Government had decided to explore ways of providing guidance to small business management to help in improving efficiency. Mr McEwen said:

Small business plays a vital role in the Australian economy, lt is a necessary element in the preservation and stimulation of competition, which Ls the mainspring of economic efficiency, lt provides a wide range of opportunities for the exercise of personal initiative and judgment, and scope for innovatory talents. In addition, it provides a wide range of employment opportunities - a particularly significant factor outside metropolitan areas.

I know that in South Australia a majority of our secondary industries come into this category. In South Australia, 55% of our factories employ fewer than 5 people, 23% employ more than 5 but not more than 10 people, and 94% employ fewer than 50 people. There are only 30 factories in South Australia employing more than 500 people. We need the strength of the big organisations which have a magnificent part to play in the development of Australia, but 1 do feel that the small man has his part to play too.

I trust that this Government will give continual encouragement to the little man to remain in business in his own right in whatever part of our overall economy he may be placed. In this respect, the word incentive’ comes to the fore very strongly. If we can have a situation wherein thrift, self-help and self-reliance are not discouraged and if we can have individuals with the knowledge that the harder they work to gain something the more they will benefit themselves and their families, we will have the basis of that which has proved for so long in Australia to be the dynamic force, of progress. It has been my honour to move the motion for the adoption of the Address-in- Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech.

Senator LAWRIE:
QUEENSLAND · CP; NCP from May 1975

- Mr President, it is with great pleasure that I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech so ably moved by Senator Laucke. This Speech was delivered by the Governor-General on the occasion of the opening of the present session of the National Parliament. On this formal occasion, we reaffirm our loyalty to Her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. We also confirm our support for the Commonwealth of Nations and express the hope that it will prosper, expand and become an even greater influence for peace in our time. I wish to congratulate Senator Laucke on his maiden speech and on’ the able and competent way in which he delivered it.

Yesterday, Lord Casey presided for the second time as Governor-General at an opening of the Australian Parliament. We assure His Excellency of our warm regard and loyal support. He is a great Australian and has been prominent in the public life of this country over a long period. We hope that he will be spared to continue his great work for a long while to come.

When Parliament adjourned last November nobody could have foreseen the chain of events in Australia from that time. The disappearance in the surf of our then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, was a great shock to the Australian people. The late Mr Holt in his short period as leader of this nation had achieved much in strengthening Australia’s position as a leading nation in the South Pacific. The attendance at such short notice of so many overseas leaders at the memorial service in Melbourne for our late Prime Minister was a great tribute to the memory of a man who had done so much for his country.

Following the death of Mr Holt, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) became Prime Minister in his own right for a short period. This, I believe, was a fitting climax to the political career of a man who has acted as Prime Minister on many occasions and who has had great influence on Government policy and actions over a long period. Australia now has a new Prime Minister and a new Government. To enable the Government to ‘rule off the book and start afresh’, to use our new Prime Minister’s word’s, Parliament was prorogued. Yesterday we saw the official opening of the Second Session of the Twenty-Sixth Parliament. 1 am sure that most. Australians will extend congratulations to Mr Gorton and wish him a successful term of office. It is interesting to note that for the first time in our history this Senate provided the people of Australia with a Prime Minister. Our congratulations and good wishes are due also to the two new Ministers in this place. I refer to Senator Scott who is Minister for Customs and Excise and Senator Wright who is Minister for Works and, under the Minister for Trade and Industry. Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities.

In his Speech, the Governor-General referred at length to the position of people and nations to our near north. He mentioned possible future developments in that area. Most of the foreign policy section of the Speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral concentrated on the area to our near north. He referred to Australia’s changing role and increasing responsibility for the South West Pacific area. He stated among other things that the Government believes the people of South Vietnam should have the right to determine their own future and not be overrun by forces from North Vietnam. He mentioned that the Government seeks a just and lasting peace and will use every endeavour to bring about negotiations for such a peace.

The Speech also touched on the British withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore, which will be completed by 1971, and the various forms of aid which Australia hopes to be able to give in this area after the British withdrawal. There is a reference to less developed countries of the world. Grants to such countries, including Papua and New Guinea, will total $142m this year and aid to Indonesia is to be doubled. Many south Pacific countries, especially the smaller ones, are now looking more to Australia for leadership and guidance in this part of the world. We must give that leadership and guidance. The speech mentions the new set-up in the administration of our Territories whereby the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will be under the administration of the Department of External Territories which, we hope, will guide its destinies until it is ready for selfgovernment.

I should like now to refer to the development of the northern parts of our own continent. The Governor-General said that except for Aboriginals, education and national development, the responsibility for the Northern Territory will rest with the Department of the Interior. This move will help to bring the Northern Territory to the stage of development where it can take its place as a State of the Australian Commonwealth. I was in the Northern Territory recently. Progress there is very great. Mining is easily the main industry in terms of value of production. Tourism comes second, and the pastoral industry third. The attractions of the Centre, including Ayers Rock, seem to have captured the imagination of many tourists, especially people from overseas, and Alice Springs is a big tourist capital. This is not to say that Darwin, at the top end, fails to get its share of tourists.

Gold and other minerals are mined at Tennant Creek, uranium is mined at Rum Jungle, and iron ore from Mount Burdy and Francis Creek is exported to Japan. I was interested to hear only today that building construction in the Northern Territory has increased by 25% on last year’s figures. Darwin is growing rapidly as a city. I saw great building activity in two or three new suburbs there. The establishment of meat works at Darwin and Katherine has given new life to the cattle industry, especially at the top end, with consequent beneficial effects. It has become obvious that the rapid development in the Northern Territory has overtaken the development and expansion of land and sea transport systems. The main railway to Alice Springs is working to capacity, but is vulnerable to flooding. In recent years, at any rate, lengthy delays have been occasioned in the carriage and delivery of foodstuffs and other goods. The road from Port Augusta to Alice Springs is entirely inadequate; only about 200 miles of it is in the Northern Territory, the rest being in South Australia. This poses some problems. The port of Darwin is unable to cope fully with the volume of shipping that seeks to use it. As a result, there are considerable delays, lt is obvious that the railway from Marree to Alice Springs will have to be rebuilt on higher ground, and if possible converted to 4 ft 84- in gauge. Something must be done to improve the road from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. Darwin harbour facilities must be extended.

Much development has taken place in my own State of Queensland, especially in the central and northern parts. 1 shall refer first to the central parts. I had the privilege last weekend to attend the opening of the first new railway in Queensland for about 40 years - from Gladstone to Moura. Railways have been reconditioned and upgraded, such as the Mount Isa line, but this is the first new line for a very long time in our State, and one of the first really new ones in the Commonwealth for some time.

Senator McKellar:

– What is the distance?

Senator LAWRIE:
QUEENSLAND · CP; NCP from May 1975

– One hundred and ten miles. I might mention this was such an important occasion that the opening celebrations lasted for two days. This railway is to be used primarily for the carriage of coal for the export trade, but it will also be available for general business. In spite of the cheap freight rates for coal, the tremendous quantities of coal to be handled are expected to make this line a very profitable undertaking for the Queensland Government. The Moura coal field, which it serves, is expected to produce 3 million tons of coal a year for export. Later this production could be stepped up to as much as 5 million tons a year. Last weekend the new coal loading plant at Barney Point in Gladstone harbour was opened. It was built by Thiess-Peabody-Mitsui and the Gladstone Harbour Board. The biggest drag line in the world was also completed at Moura for use in removing overburden. The drag line, which can handle 130 tons at one bite, cost $12m to install. Another remarkable thing is that despite its size it is self-propelled.

Blackwater coal field, 110 miles west of Rockhampton, is now in production, operated by a different company complex. Coal from here is carried on the line via Rockhampton to Gladstone, formerly used for Moura coal, and is handled by the Gladstone Harbour Board loading facilities, which were formerly used for handling Moura coal. The Blackwater and Moura coalfields, which supply coking coal, are in production and other areas are being prospected, especially to the north of Blackwater. It is conceivable that exports of coal from these areas will be bigger than at present and perhaps even bigger than are planned at present.

Blair Athol, about 240 miles west of Rockhampton, has one of the biggest seams of steaming coal in Australia - indeed, one of the biggest in the world. Somebody is now interested in this steaming coal. 1 do not know the use to which this coal will be put, but the future of Blair Athol, which once held such great promise, is of extreme interest. The port of Gladstone will soon be one of the largest in Australia in terms of tonnage in and out, but mainly in coal, bauxite and alumina exports. New fertiliser works are being built and other industries are planned.

It is interesting to note that in the middle of last century Gladstone was almost the capital of Queensland. In the 1840s there was a military settlement at Gladstone for 3 months but it was abandoned. Then in 1854 the New South Wales authorities appointed Sir Maurice O’Connell Government Resident at Gladstone with a view to Gladstone becoming the capital of the new colony of Queensland which was shortly to be established. The reason given for making Gladstone the capital was that the then authorities in New South Wales did not want the capital to be in Brisbane because they thought that residents of the northern rivers districts of New South Wales might want the administration of those districts to be transferred to Queensland. The move failed. Brisbane became the capital and the northern rivers stayed in New South Wales. But Gladstone is now taking its rightful place as a major port in Australia. It is playing a prominent part in Australia’s progress.

Now I should like to refer to some further developments in central Queensland. They include the Nogoa dam at Emerald which was approved by the Federal Government late last year. The State Government has now approved the establishment of an agricultural college at Emerald. The State Government has recently opened a pastoral college at Longreach in the central west of Queensland. Nickel has recently been discovered near Rockhampton and there is a good possibility of a nickel mining complex being developed there. Also in that area stage 3 of the brigalow scheme is being brought to the point where selectors can go on to their blocks. Pastoral improvements and the development of the brigalow scheme must boost throughput at the Rockhampton meat works.

Another interesting development at Rockhampton, which is situated on a very big river, is the construction by the local authorities of a barrage across the river to hold back the tide. Above this barrage will be found one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Australia. It will provide the cheapest supply of fresh water for industry anywhere in Australia. I now move a little further north. Townsville continues to expand. The new Army barracks are near completion. The Townsville University College, which is now part of the University of Queensland, is expected to have autonomy on 1st January 1970. This University College will be unique in many ways because it will be one of the few universities in the world which is situated in the tropics. It will have the unique opportunity of specialising in tropical problems. Its environment and location close to the Barrier Reef and the sea must help it to take a prominent part in marine biology studies. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has a tropical pasture research station right next to the Townsville University College and I am sure that co-operation between those two institutions will play a prominent part in the extension and development of tropical pastures in the north of Queensland and Australia.

Other development taking place at Townsville includes the extension of the copper refinery which is to cost $4.5m, the construction of a superphosphate plant which is to cost $3m and the construction of an ammonium phosphate plant which is to cost $1.5m. Northern development proposals achieved a breakthrough at the end of last year when in one week the Federal Government agreed to provide finance for the Ord River dam in Western Australia, the Nogoa River scheme at Emerald and new plan for beef roads to cost $37m. Beef roads in the Northern Territory, in north Queensland and in Western Australia have made possible the movement of cattle and greater production of beef. Part of the current plan envisages the commencement of a beef road into the Cape York Peninsula to tap the expanding output of beef in that area. This road must ultimately be extended to Weipa and to Bamage at the top of the Peninsula so as to give access to Thursday Island and to provide for a large number of Australians road access to the rest of the continent. They will then be able to trade by road with their fellow citizens. This road is more essential now because private enterprise is spending $20m in developing tropical beef cattle schemes in Cape York Peninsula. When this development is complete and road access provided, a new province will be added to north Queensland.

I now wish to refer to the sugar industry which means so much to Queensland and to the task of populating tropical areas. The sugar industry at present is suffering from low world prices. In the last 2 years the Federal Government has helped the industry with a loan to assist it to maintain the price of sugar, but nobody would claim that the price which the industry has been able to maintain is adequate. The Federal Government also has assisted by providing a subsidy on superphosphate and nitrogenous fertilisers, both of which are used in a big way by the Queensland sugar industry. A world conference will be held in Geneva in April and May, and we hope that, out of those negotiations will emerge a world sugar agreement which will provide a price more in line with the cost of production. We hope that the conference will achieve success. I am sure that the Australian negotiators will do their best for the sugar industry in Australia.

I should like to refer to the discovery of phosphatic rock in the Cloncurry area:

Tt is to be hoped that this find can be exploited and utilised to enable full benefit to be gained from it. Much of the high rainfall land near the Gulf of Carpentaria and in Cape York Peninsula is not a great distance away from the Cloncurry area, and if superphosphate can be made available at a reasonable price development will greatly expand in that part of northern Australia. I am also very interested in the rapidly developing fishing industry in our northern rivers. I refer particularly to the prawning section of the industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The new law which was passed last year placed under our control all adjacent waters up to 12 miles offshore. That law should be strictly policed. It is assumed to cover waters within 12 miles of each and every offshore island which is part of the State of Queensland. Some of the new naval patrol boats should be made available and stationed in northern waters, particularly at Townsville or Thursday Island. They could be used for policing this law. Also .1 believe that by international agreement further efforts must be made to have the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria declared to be historic waters. We should place this large indentation in our northern coastline, which is so rich in the so-called harvest of the sea, under Australian control in the same way as some of the other big Australian gulfs have by international treaty been placed under our control. A new survey of the fishing potential, including prawns and tuna, of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Torres Strait, the northern Barrier Reef and the Arnhem Land waters should be carried out without delay. From the reports of catches made it should be possible to decide whether to establish a cannery and prawn processing plant on Thursday Island or in some other locality. We have a unique opportunity to provide in that part of Australia a source of employment for the people of the Torres Strait islands who number about 6,000 and who are all good Queenslanders and Australians. They are the only substantial part of our pre-European settlement population who are a seafaring and maritime people. Although they have become good railway builders, they need the sea. They are navigators and seamen and know every bit of the Torres Strait and adjacent waters. Being able to obtain employment in the fishing industry in their own environment would be of great benefit to them. Working on rail ways in other parts of Australia creates great social problems and tends to break up their island communities. Thursday Island also has a substantial cultured pearl industry and would appear to be a logical place for a large fishing industry.

Let me now refer to mining in the northern areas of Queensland. We have the two huge enterprises at Mount Isa and Weipa, the copper refinery at Townsville and the alumina works at Gladstone. Then we must bear in mind our exports of coking coal and iron ore from Western Australia and the Northern Territory. All of these undertakings are now having a significant effect on our export earnings. In addition, there is the possibility of nickel mining being developed in Queensland. Other proposed mining ventures are under investigation. These are just a few of the developments taking place in the northern areas of Australia. They are the result of a working partnership between the Federal and State governments and private enterprise. Those who claim that this Government is not doing anything about, northern development are wrong. Much has been done and much will be done. The great progress that has been made already shows how much has been done. Much more is planned. However the present rate of increase in population is not enough to develop our north as we would like it to be developed. There are so many people in the countries to our near north, our neighbours, that we must do all we can to encourage a much greater population in the northern part of our continent: and we must do it quickly.

The Governor-General mentioned in his Speech that the Government proposes to provide $25m over the next 4 years for the reconstruction of the dairy industry. If the States agree to the proposal - the agreement of the States is necessary - the funds provided will be used to purchase dairy farms which are at present too small to be economic units. It is proposed to merge those small farms into economic units, thus enabling different forms of production to be obtained from them. There will be much more diversification than is the case at present. So that there will be no misunderstanding, it must be emphasised that this will be an entirely voluntary scheme. There will be no compulsion whatever. I believe that this proposal will go a fair way towards solving some of the problems which at present confront the dairy industry.

His Excellency also mentioned the effect of the devaluation of sterling on some of our exporting industries and the Government’s undertaking to make good any losses suffered by those industries as a result of devaluation. A committee is at present investigating this matter and I hope that its report will soon be available so that action can be taken to assure the future of the industries which are likely to be affected. I have referred to the progress that has been made in the northern parts of our continent. That is part of the general pattern of Australia’s development. This Government which has been in office since 1949 has initiated a pattern of development which has won the confidence of overseas investors and has created a climate which encourages investment and continued progress. I hope that we will enjoy even greater prosperity in the future, that our rate of development will continue and that our population will increase. I have much pleasure in seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech.

Senator BENN:

– I congratulate Senator Laucke on the manner in which he made his maiden speech this afternoon. He supplied us with evidence that in the future he wilt be a debating force in this Senate.

The Governor-General, in his Speech, referred to the action of the British Government in devaluing sterling. In only a brief reference to this matter he said:

As a result of the devaluation of the British pound, it was recognised that some Australian industries could be adversely affected and we undertook to give assistance in those areas which suffered direct loss.

The British Government devalued its pound in the middle of the night at the end of a week. Although it did so surreptitiously, many people in the Commonwealth and in other countries knew that the British Government would devalue the pound at about that time. People were apprehensive about sterling because they knew that the economy of the United Kingdom was heading downwards on a toboggan. However there was nothing they could do about it. The people in Australia who were holding British currency at that time were faced with the prospect of being immediate heavy losers with no possible hope of saving a cent because, as 1 have said, the pound was devalued on a non-banking day, in the middle of the night at the end of a week. The Governor-General did not mention that those who had commitments to meet in British currency gained because of the reduced value of sterling. The devaluation was foreseen by some people in Australia as a natural corollary to the financial strain suffered by the United Kingdom for several years.

There was also an indication that she proposed to withdraw her defence forces from Malaysia and Singapore. If any honourable senator intends to comment adversely on Britain’s action in that regard he should be asked this question: What economic interests has the British Government in Malaysia and Singapore? Her economic interests have dwindled progressively until they now amount to nothing so she was entitled to withdraw her troops. I am not surprised that she proposes to withdraw them as early as she possibly can because under the present arrangement she is asking British citizens to pay for the maintenance of the troops in Malaysia and Singapore. No arrangement exists whereby the United Kingdom can require the citizens of Malaysia or Singapore to meet that cost.

One body which was conscious of the threat of devaluation was the Queensland Sugar Board. It was afforded an opportunity to look at the general situation through the eyes of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd, the marketing agent of the Board. That company caused the greatest possible protection to be given to the sugar industry by purchasing from 1 964 for all sales forward exchange contracts from the Reserve Bank. Between 1964 and November 1967 the premiums paid by the Queensland Sugar Board cost $899,000 for insurance against the devaluation of sterling. This action saved the people in the sUgar industry about $9.Sm which could have been their loss of income. It is a clear case of financial perception. Evidently the Queensland Sugar Board employs officers who could foresee the devaluation of sterling and the sugar industry did not lose because of the action taken by the Board. The Board’s judgment was good, because about 90% of sugar exported was sold in stealing countries. No. 1 sugar pool com- prised local market sales and No. 2 pool market sales represent about 40% of the total stock.

The United Kingdom is on the toboggan down. It is descending and will continue to descend. It was known that the United Kingdom was on a downward tobaggan for some time and that it is still sinking. The Australian Government should have been fully conscious of the dwindling capabilities of the United Kingdom and where possible should have afforded her preference in respect of contracts she was capable of fulfilling. In saying that I am fully aware that for very many years the United Kingdom was the main market for Australian wheat, dairy produce, sugar, apples and other fruit as well as other primary products.

I wish now to give the Senate some information contained in an annual report furnished to this Parliament last year, to prove that important profitable contracts were let to foreign countries apparently for the purpose of saving a few miserable dollars. I do not believe that the United Kingdom was unable to carry out those contracts. The Australian Government should have been mindful that the United Kingdom has always been a profitable market for Australian primary products and would continue to be so in spite of opposition, if the United Kingdom was in a financial position to purchase on the Australian market. There is one contracting body in the Commonwealth which is controlled by an authority. The money made available to that authority for its expenditure was departmentally controlled. I will give now the picture to be glimpsed of how the authority carried out the work of the Commonwealth Government. In reporting to the Parliament last year in respect of certain undertakings it said:

The civil construction works of Murray 1 power station were undertaken by Perini Australia, a division of Perini Corporation of America, and were completed in November 1966.

That Perini Australia is a division of Perini Corporation of America does not amount to anything because any large overseas company can register an off-shoot here as a company. That company can be its financial agent to act on behalf of the parent company. It does not mean a thing that the name of the organisation is Perini Australia. What matters is where the proceeds and the profits of the contracts go. In this case the profits went to other countries. The report continued:

The turbines, supplied by Boving and Co. (ANZ) Pty Ltd, are high head Francis turbines of advanced design. Approximately 60 per cent of manufacture was carried out in Australian factories. The generators were supplied by ASEA Electric (Australia) Pty Ltd and were manufactured in Sweden. The turbines and generators are being erected by the Authority’s forces under the supervision of the manufacturers’ representatives. The construction of the second stage of the Murray 2 Dam, the pressure tunnel, the piers and anchor blocks for (he pressure pipelines, and the power station is being carried out by Dillingham Constructions Pty Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of the American firm of Dillingham Corporation. The four 188,000 horsepower turbines are being supplied by Hitachi Limited, Japan-, with nearly 40 per cent Australian manufacture.

The 40% Australian manufacture is the casing to house the turbines. That is work that could be carried out by boilermakers. The report continued:

The four 137,500 kilowatt generators are being supplied by ASEA Electric (Australia) Pty Ltd from Sweden. All major items have been delivered.

The construction of Jindabyne Dam is being carried out by the Joint Venture, Utah Construction & Engineering Pty Ltd and Brown & Root Sudamercia Limited. The main pumping equipment comprising two main pumps, two main-pump starting turbines and two booster pumps is being supplied by Escher Wyss Engineering Works Ltd of Switzerland.

Senator Webster:

– What is the point the honourable senator is making?

Senator BENN:

– lt should be obvious to the honourable senator. It is that the Commonwealth Government had engineering work to be performed for the Snowy Mountains project but it did not let to the United Kingdom any contracts except one that was for not more than $400,000. The other contracts were let to engineering companies in other countries. I am aware that the honourable senator who has interjected will not be pleased by what I have to say. He represents the Australian Country Party in the Senate. Primary producers have relied for years upon the United Kingdom market for the sale of their primary products. There should be reciprocity. If it is good enough for the United Kingdom to take our primary products and therefore assist us in many ways, it should be our duty when we have contracts to be performed involving machinery which can be manufactured in the United Kingdom, to show a measure of preference to that country. That is what I am saying.

My remarks have concerned the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. I will continue to quote from the Authority’s Report, even though it may add to the displeasure of the honourable senator who interjected. I will tell the truth. The United Kingdom has been going down financially, economically and socially on a toboggan with every day that passes. Australia has had an opportunity to help the United Kingdom in some way in the past; perhaps not to help to the full extent required, but we could have helped in some way and we did not. It is no good bemoaning her losses now.

Senator Webster:

– Give credit to the Federal Government. It has done a lol to assist the United Kingdom.

Senator BENN:

– I will give the facts and the honourable senator can make his own deductions, being the reasonable man that I know he is. I will cite facts which are rather illuminating and may be of interest to him and those listening at this moment. The contractor for the Jindabyne-Island Bend tunnel is the joint venture Concrete Industries (Monier) Limited of Australia, McNamara Corporation of Canada, and Paul Hardeman Inc. of the United States of America. Australian money has been paid to these companies for the work done. Presently I will outline to honourable senators what these payments have totalled. The contractor for the construction of the dam is the joint venture of MorrisonKnudsen of Australia Limited, Utah Construction and Engineering Pty Limited and McDonald Constructions Pty Limited. The 1 10,000 horsepower water turbine is being manufactured by Construzioni Meccaniche Riva of Italy. Construction of the 80,000 kilowatt generator by AEG of West Germany is progressing satisfactorily. It is expected that the generating unit will be in service by October 1969.

In November 1966 the Authority placed contracts jointly with Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co. Limited and Mitsui and Co. Australia Pty Limited for the manufacture and supply of six 341,000 horsepower Francistype water turbines and three 245,000 horsepower centrifugal pumps for the Tumut 3 power station. At the sams time a contract for the supply of six 250,000 kilowatt, generators was awarded to Mitsubishi (Australia) Pty Limited for units manufactured by the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan. I intend now to outline sums that were paid to companies not resident in Australia. This will indicate the sum paid to one British company. A contract was let in September 1966 for the Blowering power station and outlet works to Morrison-Knudson International Co. Inc., Utah Construction and Mining Co. and McDonald Construction Pty Limited, and it was worth $3.054m. In August 1966 a contract for the Blowering outlet works valves was let to Loewy Engineering Co. Ltd, England, and ir was worth §229,000. I ask honourable senators to note the small value of that contract. In July 1966 a contract worth $120,000 for the transformer for the Blowering power station was let to Ercole Marell and Co. of Italy. Six turbines for Tumut 3 power station - a contract worth $5.594m - were tendered for in November 1966.

Senator Webster:

– Are not all contracts gained on tender?

Senator BENN:

– The honourable senator knows as well as I know, and as any Australian citizen should know, that the Commonwealth Government or a-n instrumentality of the Commonwealth Government cannot let a contract unless it is tendered for. This is standard practice. However, the contract I am now discussing was let to Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co. Limited of Japan and Mitsui and Co. (Aust.) Pty Limited. A contract for six generators for Tumut 3 power station was awarded in November 1966.

Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.

Senator BENN:

– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about devaluation of the £1stg by the British Government and the intention of the British Government to withdraw troops from Malaysia and Singapore within a year or two. I might say at this juncture that it is possible for honourable senators to get a great deal of information from the Parliamentary Library about the present condition of the British economy. Britain’s acute unemployment problems and the trend of Britain’s industries. I will admit that to. make a diligent search through the information one would require a fair amount of time, but anyone who cares to make the search will be somewhat alarmed at what he will find. I carried out an examination of the information there and it left me in an unhappy frame of mind.

I return now to the matter with which I was dealing when the sitting was suspended. I was referring to contracts which were let by the Commonwealth Government to overseas companies. I think I had referred to the contract for six turbines for the Tumut 3 power station. That contract was let to the Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co. Ltd of Japan and Mitsui and Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd, and the amount involved was estimated to be $5,595,000. The contract for six generators for Tumut 3 power station was let to Mitsubishi (Aust.) Pty Ltd and the amount involved was $4,512,000. The contract for three pumps for Tumut 3 power station to cost $2,710,000 was let to Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co. Ltd of Japan and Mitsui and Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd. A British company obtained only one of all the contracts that were let throughout 1967 by that Commonwealth authority and the amount involved was only $229,000. I do nol: know whether it was possible for British people to tender for the other contracts to which I have referred, and I am unable to say at this juncture whether they were able to carry out the work that was involved in them, but, nevertheless, Australian money has gone out to foreign companies.

Of course, we cannot do these things without those who are interested in this class of work getting to know about it and doing something to protect their own interests. I. have noted that the heavy engineering companies in Australia, realising that they were not getting any worthwhile contracts from the Commonwealth Government, formed a Federal organisation known as the Heavy Engineering Manufacturers Association. One of the aims of that Association is to secure a greater share of the heavy engineering work for member companies by reducing the amount of this work presently allotted to to heavy engineering companies overseas. The formation of the Association was the aftermath of the letting of that work to overseas companies last year.

Australia has never been treated unsympathetically by the United Kingdom in trading affairs and Britain has always appeared to reciprocate any special consideration afforded her. She has always shown a readiness to confer with Australia about trading problems; yet, while in the United Kingdom at present there is a very high level of unemployment, Australia is letting work out to other overseas countries and importing from other countries goods which could very well be manufactured in the United Kingdom.

Branches of the textile industry have operated locally for many years, principally in the manufacture of woollen goods. The cotton textile industry of the United Kingdom flourished for a very long time. Now we find a strange, and reversed, situation. The Lancashire based cotton textile industry of the United Kingdom has suffered severe reverses in recent years. In 1951 the industry provided remunerative employment for 300,000 workers, but by last year the number of employees had decreased to the low level of 100,000. The distressful reduction in employees in a period of 16 years was caused by several factors. The principal ones were that, firstly, almost 1,000 mills closed because they were small and could not withstand the competition offered by modern machinery and methods. The second cause of the reduction was the loss of export trade and the third was the great volume of imported yarns, cotton fabrics and manufactured cotton apparel from other countries, including developing countries which were members of the British Commonwealth, lt is evidence to me that Britain got caught up by some of the decisions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. She complied with those decisions at the expense of the cotton textile industry. Among the developing countries involved are Pakistan and India - Hongkong, too, is involved - where the rates of wages paid to the operatives are much lower than those paid to the workers in the textile industry in Lancashire.

Should any honourable senator be interested in the unemployment problems of the United Kingdom I am sure he will be perplexed by some of the information which he will discover. One important discovery he will make is that the number of jobs available for unskilled and semi-skilled men grows smaller month by month. Modern machinery in industry is designed to save labour costs, and from that aspect it is a great success.

The high educational facilities in the United Kingdom are famous throughout the world. One authority recently estimated that the United Kingdom loses a total of 2,700 scientists, engineers and technologists each year to other countries, especially America. Many of those lost are top quality men who cost up to £16,000 to train. Twelve months ago a committee was appointed by the British Government to investigate this matter, and it furnished a report highlighting the main causes of the loss. The committee found that British industry treated technical men as backroom boys and failed to give them sufficient executive power. It found that the universities were seducing students into believing that academic achievement was an end in itself and that continuing academic research was the only respectable outcome of their training. It blamed the Government for shilly-shallying over major research and development projects, particularly in the field of aviation. It said, for example, that the TSR2 project should not have been cancelled without first ensuring that all the skilled men made redundant by the cancellation could be absorbed into productive industry. The committee thought that the Government took in taxes too much of a young man’s money and investments. It blamed all the people of the United Kingdom for being too much concerned with sharing out and spending wealth and too little interested in creating it.

The Committee found that the tempo of the loss had doubled in the past 6 years. It stated that in 1961, 1,900 engineers and technologists and 1,300 scientists left the United Kingdom. By 1966 the totals had risen to 4,200 and 2,000 respectively - an average annual increase of 17%. I could go on and tell honourable senators about some of these matters, but I do not propose to go too far as only 5 minutes of my time remain. The real truth of the Committee’s report is that the United Kingdom had reached a stage in its economy when it was impossible to attract engineers and scientists. Those who migrated to the United States had the opportunity to increase their salaries threefold. When the Suez Canal was first closed, about 11 years ago, Great Britain set herself the task of developing nuclear power as an alternative to oil, and there are positive signs that it will be successful. The Chairman of the United King-* dom’s Central Electricity Generating Board stated not so long ago that from now on British nuclear stations will generate power more cheaply than it can be obtained from any other source.

I mention this aspect because I can see a change in the development of power generation in Queensland and in other States in the near future, especially when natural gas becomes available, as it will this year. With the change to nuclear power the closure of coal mines became a serious problem in Great Britain. An examination of some documents in the Parliamentary Library will reveal that one coal mine employing 800 men will be closing down this year. What is to happen to those 800 miners is beyond my comprehension. I do not know how they are to be absorbed into industry, or whether they can be given a special training course to fit them for some other employment.

There are many more points that I could discuss, but apparently my time is almost exhausted. This is not a bright GovernorGeneral’s Speeech. There is nothing in it - no hope for the people. I stress the devaluation of sterling because the Government proposes to do something about it. It will have an investigation into how devaluation has affected primary producers in Australia. As a result of that investigation it may be found - I am of the opinion that it will be found - that the primary producers will have to be subsidised to some extent because of their loss in prices on the United Kingdom market. Should that occur, Australian citizens will have to be taxed to make up the amount required for the subsidy.

The Governor-General’s Speech contains some good points, such as the proposed investigation into hospital and medical benefits funds, but it does not fill the bill at the present time, especially with such a bad drought in some parts of Australia. Victoria and southern New South Wales are suffering badly as a result of a protracted drought. However, the Government proclaims that it can govern, and one of its responsibilities is to ensure, as far as it possibly can, that the primary industries will flourish later on when good seasons come to the whole of Australia.

Senator CORMACK:

– I have been extremely interested in the remarks in the latter stage of the address by Senator Benn, and for a simple reason. He has embarked on what might be described as a political pilgrim’s progress over the past 6 or 7 years during which I have sat in this Chamber, and in that period he has moved from the sterile ideology of socialism to the practicalities of Liberalism. The arguments that he has adduced in support of his general remarks tonight indicate that in this pilgrim’s progress he has gone from the valley of despond and arrived at some of the liberal uplands to which my colleagues and I have been trying, successfully, to encourage the Australian electorate to ascend over the past 15 years. I should like to pursue him along some of those paths, but that is not my function tonight in addressing myself to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General yesterday.

I think I should recollect to myself - and I do this by thinking aloud, as it were - the history and function of the Address-in-Reply debate. Before the suspension for dinner Senator Benn impressed upon us to some degree that the Parliament - and I emphasise the word - uses the occasion to point out to the Crown and to Ministers of the Crown the deficiencies that members conceive might exist in the programme that the Crown or the Crown’s representative here proposes to Parliament. Therefore, this is a proper occasion, undertaken instinctively and properly by honourable senators on both sides, to point out those matters which they consider are insufficiently emphasised by Her Majesty’s Ministers through the voice of the Governor-General. 1 say that because later I intend to address myself to some matters raised in His Excellency’s Speech to which I think the attention of the Parliament should be drawn. Before embarking on this course I want to tell Senator Laucke, who moved the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply this afternoon, how pleased I was to listen to his thoughtful contribution in this context and to what he supposed to be possible real deficiencies in His Excellency’s Speech. Whereas the civilities of parliamentary life accorded to him the right of speaking here without interjection, there were some observations in his speech to which on a future occasion I might address myself. I do not propose to address myself to those matters tonight.

I was interested in Senator Benn’s definition of the situation in which the United Kingdom finds itself, for we cannot divorce ourselves, as a Parliament of Australia, from supporting a British Government without some understanding of some of the problems now facing our parent country. I do not propose to follow Senator Benn’s arguments along the line. I merely comment that there exists in a large part of Australia a feeling of resentment or of being let down by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from South East Asia. The problem of the United Kingdom is basically another one altogether, and I believe it proper that before embarking upon matters raised in His Excellency’s Address yesterday I should direct the attention of the Parliament to this basic problem. For 300 years our kinsmen in the United Kingdom have been suffering from what I can describe only in the most brutal terms as a haemorrhage. Scattered throughout the world are the graves of English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh men and women who have laid down their lives either in war or through the vicissitudes of unfamiliar terrain and climate in pursuit of a world wide order among the Englishspeaking peoples, particularly the people of the United Kingdom from which most of us here derive, through the establishment of the concept of law, order and justice. The price that has been exacted from the people of the two islands of the United Kingdom has brought them to the terrible pass in which they find themselves today. They have been on a pilgrimage in pursuit of law, order and justice all over the world; one that, has been tempered from time to time by outside considerations, but basically, in the long term, has been governed by the morality of Christian compassion.

Therefore in 1968 we find ourselves involved in an historical successor of a situation that arose in our history a long time ago. The legions now begin to march back to Rome. The phrase ‘the United Kingdom can no longer sustain a presence east of Suez’ is another way of saying that the legions are now retiring from the frontiers of the world, as they did once before. As they do so now, the colonies that they leave behind - Australia is one of those colonies - have to assume a role in the wider world in which they find themselves, without the protection that the legions gave to them just as the legions gave protection to our people in north-western Europe about 2,000 years ago.

So, in beginning a debate on the problem of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from east of Suez we will be less than just and most ungenerous if we do not understand the compulsions of history that have required this action. As our country is left as an outpost of European civilisation, which I for one believe to be an important factor in the governance of the world, we tend to find ourselves, much as our ancestors did, without the support and succour that the legions once gave us. Let me address myself to the . relevant passages of the Governor-General’s Speech. I do not particularly like the following reference to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from east of Suez:

These matters are under intensive study by my Government. Consultations have taken place and will continue with the Governments of the United Kingdom. Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand.

In the sentences immediately preceding the ones I have just quoted there seems to be an implication that we have been treated unfairly. I do not believe that we have been. The circumstances that have compelled the legions to retire from the frontiers have been evident for 20 years. We in Australia have conducted ourselves on the basis that the legions were here forever; but they cannot be here forever. The tocsin of their retirement has been sounding for some time.

When I use these rhetorical terms I am not excusing the political. elements that have been involved in the United Kingdom’s dealings with Australia on this matter. I believe that the British Ministers who have been in Australia in the last 2 years have been less than honest in describing to Australian Ministers the true intentions of the United Kingdom Government. But I pass that by because I believe that the compulsions of historical events were such that these men, however honestly or dishonestly - I believe basically honestly - they expressed the United Kingdom Government’s intentions in relation to the area that Britain has occupied for 300 years, were the prisoners of events that they could not control.

As His Excellency’s Speech yesterday afternoon made quite clear, this action poses grave problems and difficulties for the Commonwealth of Australia. This is the matter to which this Parliament must address itself with increasing intensity in the next decade. How is Australia to maintain its posture in this area during our lives, the lives of our children and maybe the lives of our children’s children? This is the problem that is hidden and veiled in the abstruse comments that His Excellency made in this place yesterday afternoon. In the words of a distinguished Secretary of State of the United States of America to which we have become accustomed, we are involved in an agonising reappraisal. Where will Australia go in the circumstances in which it finds itself today? That is the issue to which this Parliament must address itself in the forthcoming session. All that an individual back bench senator - indeed, all that any senator or any member of another place - can do is direct his individual attention to this problem and see whether there is a solution to it, what the solution is and how the Parliament as a whole should address itself to the problem. No government is capable of providing the solution. No government is capable of finding the solution in advance of the consensus existing in the Parliament.

In the last 20 years we have become used to being able to manoeuvre inside our foreign policy in our geographical position. But now we are involved in having to find a foreign policy in which there is no strategic shield such as the one inside which we have been able to manoeuvre in the last 20 years. In the circumstances and the area in which we found ourselves we were able to manoeuvre because on the one hand we were able to build an alliance with the United States, which would provide a strategic shield inside which we could conduct our foreign policy, and on the other we had the shield of our parent society, the United Kingdom. Now one of these protective strategic shields is being removed. I say. ‘being removed’ because it is in the process of being removed; it is not being removed instantly. Now, in my mind, this problem of the conduct of foreign policy in the last 20 years has been .very easy to resolve. We have been able to move tactically because our strategic liabilities have been underwritten by two . other powers - our parent society of the United Kingdom, as I have mentioned, and, on the other hand, the United States of America. Therefore, there has grown up. I am sorry to say, a belief in Australia that we are a major power. This is the great political illusion in which we are involved.

Australia is not a major power. In the world context of global force Australia is less than a middle power. It is true that in this area in which we find ourselves, in relation to the people who live to the north ofus, we may be slightly more than a middle power. But, in the global context of the world in which we live, we are less than a middle power. In the last 20 years we have assumed,I regret to say, by somepsychological process, which is capable of some sort of analysis, a feeling amongst ourselves that we are a major power. We have appeared to be a major power only because we have been able to operate in our area of external affairs within the protection of two major powers - our parent society of the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Now, one of these strategic, protective shields has gone. Therefore 1 ask honourable senators, asI have asked myself, the question: Where do we go from here?

I suggest to honourable senators that we need to take a close look at our priorities. To what extent do we attempt to influence the events which surround us? For example - and I mention this only as an illustration of the problem in which we find ourselves - should we attempt to intervene and to influence events in Africa? Should we attempt to influence the events that occur in the Middle East from which at least 75% of our oil supply comes, down the Persian Gulf? lt would appear that strategic capacity exists for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to cut off oil supplies to Australia from that area at any moment that it wishes to do so within the next few years.

I use another example to illustrate my point. Can we do anything with the so-called Dominion, or part of the Commonwealth, of India, which seems to be in the process of entering into treaty relations with the USSR? The USSR, from what 1 can read, apparently is willing to provide the Government of India with submarines in order that the so-called power vacuum in the Indian Ocean may be filled by India. Should the strategic capacityto exert influences in the Indian Ocean across our trade routes be a matter in which we should be interested? Can we trust any Government that is becoming a tributary of the USSR and which may assume jurisdiction over the Indian Ocean where the United Kingdom has exerted strategic suzerainty for 300 years?

Foreign policy is only effective if it can be sustained.It can be sustained, first of all, by authority. Secondly, it can be sustained by economic devices accorded in the area in which we wish to exert our foreign policy. Thirdiy, a country’s foreign policy must be reinforced by the power structure of the nation. If we accept those three factors in the conduct of foreign policy, it begins to appear that we have overextended ourselves in the attempts that we have made to influence events in the area in which we find ourselves. Unless we are willing to accept the strategic responsibility which the United Kingdom - our parent society - has held for 300 years, it is inescapable that we shall have to look most carefully at the extent to which we wish to attempt to influence peoples, societies and powers in the area in which we live. This, as I see it, is the problem.

This is hinted at in the Speech delivered by the Governor-General in this chamber yesterday. It is true that there may be some in this Parliament who believe that we can escape this problem by introducing a new shield, which is the power and capacity that is expressed from time to time in the United Nations. Because of the courtesy and the honour accorded me by this Senate, I served for 6 months at the United Nations. With all the vehemence that I can command, I say to honourable senators that they should not accept the belief that the United Nations is an area of power in which Australia can be sustained. Australia can be sustained by its own capacity only. I have addressed myself tonight to an examination of Australia’s capacity. I have clone this because it seems to me that we must give up this widespread thesis which is prevalent in our community today that we can go on extending moral authority, economic authority and power authoritv in the various parts of the world in which we find ourselves.

I come down to this final conclusion with which I shall deal briefly and, I feel, inadequately. We find ourselves betraying the historic responsibility that we have inherited from our parent society in north western Europe - the two islands that used to comprise the United Kingdom. There was an historic strategy in terms of foreign policy, of moral influence and of civilising forces that emerged from our parent society in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom, first of all the nations in this world, understood the authority that is inherent in an island community. We are an island community. Australia is an island. It is a very great island in terms of size, but it is an island. We have to assume, I suggest, the responsibility of an island power.

An island power has certain great strategic capacities built into it. It can do two things. Firstly, it can operate on a line of internal communication. We can do this in Australia. Secondly, it can operate on exterior lines around its coast. But the fallacy that we may find ourselves involved in is that we may think of an island power in the narrow terms of a sea power, and sea power may be thought of in the narrow terms of ships. I have in my mind a concept of the function of an island power as a maritime power. A maritime power is one that has the ability to dominate the seas and the oceans that surround it. In two terrible wars in which we have found ourselves in the past, and currently in a far from agreeable war in which we find ourselves, we seem to have forgotten the lesson that a maritime power must learn. We have tended too much to the aberration which crept in in the United Kingdom from 1910 onwards, by involving ourselves in continental wars. The tragedy in which the United Kingdom now finds itself - the blood haemorrhage to which I referred at the beginning of my speech - can be traced back to the fact that the United Kingdom became involved in the blood bath of 1914- 1918 in which the flower of its manhood were annihilated in a continental war in Europe. Although the 1939-1945 war exacted a less severe penalty than the earlier war, the fact is that the entry into continental wars by our parent society in the United Kingdom was the very thing which has destroyed it. and reduced it to the circumstances which Senator Benn tonight described as an economic liability. The United Kingdom’s economic liability must be traced back to its fundamental causes.

In the projection of Australia’s foreign policy and in relation to our defence and integrity we must seek to avoid overcommittal in areas of continental authority. We must be careful not to become involved in the responsibilities which accrue to a nation which attempts to pursue a foreign policy without paying due regard to the strategic consequences if the strategic defence has vanished - and one strategic defence factor is about to vanish. There fore I suggest, in the short time available to me tonight, that the agonising reappraisal needed by Australia, in view of the position in which we find ourselves at the moment, is not only a reappraisal in terms of defence, in which, if T may use the normal idiom which people of my generation have grown up with, we have put the cart before the horse. This is in fact what we have done. We have put the cart before the horse. What we have to decide now in the altered circumstances is, what are the limits which we can justly pursue in the maintenance of the national integrity of this community in view of the changed circumstances? I have not attempted to proffer any suggestions on how this might be done, though I have definite ideas on it. All 1 have attempted to do tonight is to draw the attention of honourable senators to a problem which must be faced in more definite terms than those contemplated in His Excellency’s Speech yesterday afternoon.

South Australia

– One of Senator Benn’s concluding remarks was that the Governor-General’s Speech was disappointing. I agree, not so much on the ground that the contents of the Speech were disappointing as on the ground that what it omitted to say was disappointing. Before proceeding any further with this line I should like to congratulate Senator Laucke on his maiden speech. I feel he will fulfil himself here. He is now a part of the Senate; he can now participate in the vigorous debate which we have on occasion in this Chamber. In his speech today he showed sympathy to many and spoke in praise of others. This inclines me to the belief that he will extend this feeling of sympathy to many fields of activity in which Australia is engaged. Often we fail to live up to our responsibility as senators, simply by acting contrary to our consciences and following a party line rather than trying to rectify injustices that we as a Parliament may find are happening, either with our knowledge or initially without it.

As I said, the Governor-General’s Speech is highlighted by its omissions. We had hoped for better things with a new Prime Minister and the reshuffling of portfolios and the duties of many ministerial positions. There were some alterations in the Ministry, although not many. A couple of alterations brought into the Ministry men who were considered by other Prime Ministers to be turbulent; they never before had the opportunity to enter the Ministry. We hoped for greater things from this Government than the Governor-General’s Speech would indicate.

It is apparent from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that the Government intends to introduce legislation on three or four important metters, but I think it would be better to postpone discussion of them until the relevant legislation is introduced in this Chamber for debate. I propose, however, to deal with a most important matter, which will become more important as time goes on. The GovernorGeneral said:

My Government will continue the support accorded to the USA and the Government of South Vietnam in an endeavour to ensure that aggression by force of arms, terrorism and subversion is not successful in subjecting the people of South Vietnam to rule by an aggressor.

Honourable senators have heard me bring facts on numerous occasions to contradict the Government’s belief in this matter. 1 do not think I should spend the limited time at my disposal in this debate in trying to convince a government which, on the history of this dispute, refuses to be convinced that we should take a second look at the question. While we are in Vietnam, it is a fact that some people have, rightly or wrongly, made accusations which cannot be ignored, that our soldiers are engaging in atrocities in that country. The Minister has failed to respond immediately that action will be taken either to contradict this tale or to bring those responsible for the alleged brutalities to a position in which they will no longer be able to inflict brutalities. Though we have been told that a statement may be made in a day or two, I ask the Government to look at the urgency of the question. Let the Government consider the growing feeling in the public mind that there will be no proper investigation of these allegations. So far we have the Minister’s statement that a military tribunal will investigate these allegations of brutality against some member of the Army. This savours of an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. We do not know how far this issue may reach. We do not know how high officers concerned in this matter will be. It needed two Royal Commissions to find out what happened to the ‘Voyager’.

Mistakes can be made. On this accusation the public demands a full and open inquiry under the chairmanship of a judge of some standing in this country for the purpose of scotching this allegation or, if there is any truth in it, of bringing the offender to justice or at least removing from the armed forces or a position of command anyone who engages in such brutality against captured war prisoners. Australia is a party to the Geneva Convention dealing with the treatment of prisoners of war. We have responsibility in this matter. The questions that have been put have not been sufficiently answered. There is no ready answer on what happens to prisoners of war captured by our soldiers in Vietnam. Are we in Australia simply passing on our responsibilities, neglecting our concern for the welfare of prisoners of war while we are under an international obligation to observe and protect their welfare? Are we passing our responsibility over to another authority while having some doubts of the future welfare of these prisoners of war?

Where is the girl today about whom allegations of torture have been made? Is she under Australian protection so as to ensure that this does not happen to her again? Is she alive today?

I placed a question on the notice paper in which I asked: How many prisoners of war has Australia taken since the Vietnam dispute commenced? What has become of them? How many are alive today? These are important questions. While we may argue about the rights and wrongs of the Vietnam conflict, let us get down to the question of taking the horror and the brutality out of the war. The situation could well be that to which Senator O’Byrne referred when he displayed a photograph of a Vietcong who was a prisoner of war. He was blindfolded, he had his hands tied behind his back and a gun was levelled at his head.

We see evidence of increasing brutality. We hear accusations of American brutality. Vietcong brutality and brutality committed by members of the South Vietnamese Government forces. On occasions I have been subjected to criticism because I have not mentioned what the Vietcong or the Communists are doing, lt is true that I have not done so. But I think there are several honourable members in this chamber who could bring out these questions of brutality.

There are honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who are not prepared to do so. At least every week the United States of America publishes a bulletin dealing with atrocities and captives. The Republic of Vietnam issues a weekly journal for the purpose of convincing us of the justification of the cause of the South Vietnamese Government. The United States publication has failed to convince us of this fact.

While it is true that perhaps we have noi emphasised the brutality that has been caused by the Vietcong and the destruction of homes for which they are responsible, I am prepared to join at any time with those people who are concerned with this question in a campaign to bring before the Australian public the brutality which we discover being committed in Vietnam by all sides. If we have some desire to stop the brutalities, let us join together and condemn those who are responsible for it. This applies whether they are South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, Americans or Australians. Where is the Christian gentleman who does not condemn brutality or who fails to stop brutality because the enemy is committing similar brutality? lt is easy to say that the Vietnamese people may think very little of the destruction of human life or of the maiming of human beings because they have a lower idea of the value of human life then we have. Anyone who has travelled through Asia would have gained this- impression. But that is not a justification for the present position. We are on a crusade to teach these people the value of human life and the need to preserve human life. What has happened? After the recent invasion of Saigon by the Vietcong forces the people who were in the particular area in which the Vietcong had their stronghold were informed over loud speakers that they should vacate that area as it was to be bombed. I hope we did not expect that the Vietcong, who are unidentifiable among the people, would remain in the area and be subjected to the bombing. American bombs rained destruction and simply wiped out the cottages of the poor people of Saigon. People who refused to leave the area despite the American warning were annihilated. So we find that the hospitals are full. 1. ask: Should not we do something about this position? Should we stop it or should we seek to justify it by hardening our hearts?

I regret having to raise this matter, but on one occasion when the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs was asked for an assurance by the Government that it would not support a war which involved the use of chemical gas or napalm or war on children, he replied that he regretted he could not give such an assurance on behalf of this Government. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) justified the chaining of Gunner O’Neill in a trench on the occasion when that incident received publicity in Australia. The way in which we tend to approach this matter is that the Army is right in this conflict. Earlier today we endeavoured to put extra pressure upon the Minister in this chamber when we asked him whether the reports of brutality were right or wrong. We asked him: ‘Will you assure us that you will oppose any brutalities in Vietnam?’ He said: ‘All I can say is that this Government does not support any use of force against prisoners of war’. That is not an assurance that we will not hand these prisoners of war over to some other agency for the purpose of committing brutalities which we lack the courage to admit are happening or about which we are concerned.

We do not concern ourselves with opposing our allies in this particular conflict. So we see the destruction in large numbers of the civilian population, including mothers and children. These numbers are far in excess of the numbers of Vietcong or Communist forces infiltrating into South Vietnam. Despite our mass of weapons we are unable to beat these forces on the battlefield because of their surprise attacks, their tunnelling and so on. We can only resort to the massive bombing of the population. We are justifying this action today. It is a war in which we do not count our victories by the capture of areas. Since we entered Vietnam we have not improved our hold on any areas. Our successes are counted by the number of Vietcong we kill. That is our attitude in Vietnam at the present time.

The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in a statement to this Parliament in March of last year said:

There has been gradual but steady improvement in the military situation in South Vietnam, with the initiative now more firmly in the hands of the forces of the Republic of Vietnam and its allies. Although the enemy is maintaining a campaign of harassment, terrorism and sabotage throughout the country, allied operations and air strikes have so Tar prevented the launching of large scale offensives.

The Minister said that there had been a gradual and steady improvement in the military situation in South Vietnam. Only today 1 received a Press release from the United States Information Service which gives details of the casualty figures in connection with the Vietnam war. It was released by the Department of Defence on 7th March and it refers to the week ending 2nd March. The cumulative totals from 1st January 1968 are also shown. A total of 542 United States military personnel were killed in action in the week ending 2nd March. From 1st January until 2nd March 3,229 Americans had been killed in Vietnam. This is the success we are achieving. For the week ending 2nd March, the total of United States military personnel who were wounded in action and required hospitalisation was 1,105. In the period from 1st January to 2nd March a total of 9,275 personnel were injured and required hospitalisation. It is not my intention to say who is right and who is wrong in this war. I appeal for the assistance and cooperation of honourable senators in this humane attempt to take brutality out of the conflict. At least let us try to put an end to the use of napalm on civilian women and children and to the bombing and burning of villages. I ask honourable senators from both sides of the House to join me in a campaign to achieve this end. Senator Laucke this afternoon told us of his adherence to Christian principles. Could he possibly refrain from co-operating in this earnest attempt to achieve this end? In all sincerity I ask those who are unconcerned about this matter: What kind of God do you worship? 1 have had handed to me a report of the history of the Vietnam conflict which was prepared in April 1967 by the staff of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, of which Bourke B. Hickenlooper was Chairman, and Fred B. Rhodes, Jr. was Secretary and Staff Director. Coming from the American Republican Party one would not expect it to be so progressive a document that it would justify all that the Vietcong had done. The report comes down on the side of the United States. Amongst other things. I think it gives a fair indication of the thousands killed by the Communists. The report sets out the history of Vietnam following the Communist takeover of me north after the 1954 peace settlement. The demand for the report was so great in the United States that the Republican Party was not able to meet the cost of printing it so the Party asked for the report to be placed in the records of Congress for the purpose of making it a public document. Accordingly the report is contained in the Congressional Record of the Proceedings and Debates of the First Session of the 90th Congress of May 1967. The report covers 14 pages, and with the concurrence of honourable senators T incorporate it in Hansard.



Vol. 113 No. 72

Washington, Tuesday, May 9, 1967



Mr. HICKENLOOPER. Mr. President, last week at the direction of the Republican Senatorial Policy Committee, the staff of that committee concluded a rather extensive effort on the compilation of a study entitled ‘The War in Vietnam’.

This report is not intended as a political party position or political party statement. It is intended as an objective study of a part of the historic background of the situation in Vietnam.

The report has received a substantial amount of interpretation, some misinterpretation, and some accurate interpretation, but it nevertheless has received a substantial volume of comment and criticism.

In order to make the report available to as large a number of people as possible, since we have had thousands of requests for this document - and we do not have enough money to have it printed - I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in large type at this point in the Record as part of my remarks.

There being no objection, the report was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

The War In Vietnam


Dimensions of the War

As of April 1967, the war to contain Communist aggression in Vietnam has assumed for the United States these unusual dimensions:

It means a conflict that has escalated from a small force of 600 American technicians to over a half-million fighting men.

It means over 8,000 mcn killed.

It means over 50,000 wounded.

It means greatly increased American conscription at a time when the rest of the Western world has done away with its draft.

It means our longest war since the American Revolution - six years - a weary nightmare and yet the men who fight arc fighting with extraordinary bravery and skill.

It means not knowing at any given moment precisely who the enemy is.

It means a war which is not simply fought over this tiny land of Vietnam; for this war, unlike all others in American history, is more and more justified as much on geopolitical grounds as on the defense of one small government. lt means our relative isolation as the world’s policeman, for here wc have no Grand Alliance as in World War II, no United Nations Combined Forces as in Korea. In addition to South Vietnamese troops, four Pacific nations have provided some fighting help - with our financial assistance.

It means fighting a people who claim this is a civil war, and who in turn are spurred on by two giant powers quarreling openly with each other.

It means that while we have committed 500,000 men to battle communism, neither the Soviet Union nor Red China - the great Communist powers - has found it necessary to commit troops.

It means the most frustrating sort of war, with no front lines, which breaks out here and there, even across national borders in Laos and Cambodia, neither of which is involved.

It means spending over $300,000 to kill each enemy soldier.

It means spending $24 billion a year, with another increase in taxes threatened, a further drain on an already inadequate gold supply, and an escalation of inflation.

It means enormous discretionary powers assumed by the President, with Congress asked to approve his actions after the fact.

It means the Nation which started the warFrance - and lost it, now has become our most outspoken critic while profiting heavily from the war.

It means a war where, in the eyes of many Asiatics, we are fighting against indigenous Asiatic nationalism, much as France did in the past.

It means the first war in our history fought not only on the battlefield but brought into the American livingroom, every day, through the raw emotionalism of today’s mass communications.

It means a war in which religious controversy between Catholic minority and Buddhist majority has come dangerously close to causing collapse of the successive governments of South Vietnam.

Here at home this confusion, this frustration, has raised challenges within Congress, within colleges and universities, within the press, within the military itself - and all to a degree not experienced in the United States since the Civil War. Conscientious objectors today outnumber their Korean counterparts 4 to 1.


Vietnam is a 2,000 year old country which, because of its exposed position, has been invaded by the Mongols, the Chinese, the Siamese, the French, the Japanese. One of the few things uniting the 30 million Vietnamese is a strong, common tradition of fighting outsiders.

The longest, most recent, most oppressive occupation - from the Vietnamese viewpoint - is still fresh in the minds of most Vietnamese. That occupation was by France; a white, western, capitalist, Christian power. America, no matter how pure its motives, cannot overcome the weight of history insofar as the Vietnamese look at it. In short, their memory of history is what we must learn to deal with, not our concept of it.

The Crucial Era

The most crucial moments in Vietnam’s recent history came at the close of World War II, and are among the least remembered. The critical events of this era - the genesis of today’s conflict - bear recounting in the strictest historical terms, complicated though they may be.

For nearly two decades prior to World War II Vietnamese, directed in large measure by Ho Chi Minh, an exiled Communist from Annam, had carried on an underground struggle for independence from France.

Ho Chi Minh became the principal rallying agent for underground factions when the Japanese conquered Indochina during World War II.

The World War II pattern of Axis conquest, that of setting up local, native puppet regimes - Quisling in Norway, Laval in France - was broken in Indochina. The Japanese found a tractable colonial bureaucracy running the country, that of the Vichy French; they took advantage of it, and for a time allowed the French to continue doing business at the same stand, with new directors. Not all the French in Indochina were so ready to cooperate. Many were secretly allied with the Free French under De Gaulle.

Both the United States and Nationalist China openly recognized Ho as leader of the free Indochina movement during World War II. We supplied Ho’s forces, the Vietminh, with arms and advisors.

Because of the Atlantic Charter and the outspoken United States stance in opposition to colonialism, the Vietminh and all Vietnamese had reason to expect U.S. support for their claim to independence following World War II. They had, after all, fought on our side - against both Japan and Vichy France.

Towards the end of the war, alarmed by the growing strength of the independence movement, Japan set up a puppet Vietnam government under the Emperor of Annam, Bao Dai.

Aftermath of Potsdam

The Potsdam Agreement provided that Chinese Nationalist troops were to disarm and intern Japanese forces north of the 16th parallel. British troops were to perform the same task in the south.

On September 2, 194S - following the Japanese collapse - Ho Chi Minh proclaimed from Hanoi the independence of all Vietnam. Bao Dai resigned, offered to serve the new government of independent Vietnam, and was appointed as an advisor.

British occupation forces, under Maj. Gen. Douglas Gracey, put their own interpretation on the Potsdam Agreement and proceeded first to rearm, and then to use defeated Japanese troops to throw representatives of the newly proclaimed independent Vietnam government out of Saigon.

The consequences of this decision are with us today.

Thereafter, the British rearmed approximately 5,000 French troops interned in Saigon. On September 23, 1945, the British allowed the French coup d’etat, returning southern Vietnam to its colonial position under Paris rule.

British and Japanese troops supported the French in battle against Vietnamese units until enough French reinforcements - 50,000 of them - arrived by December of 1945 to reestablish total French domination in the South.

Commenting on the use of Japanese soldiers to reestablish European colonialism, Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur is reported to have said:

Mf there is anything that makes my blood boil, it is to see our Allies in Indochina and Java deploying Japanese troops to reconquer the little people we promised to liberate. It is the most ignoble kind of betrayal.’

An 8-year Colonial War

Thereafter began an 8-year colonial war which did not then attract general attention in the United States. We were deeply involved elsewhere.

We were, in 1946, attempting unsuccessfully to establish a modus vivendi, with the Soviet Union. The Cold War had begun.

In 1947, through the Marshall Plan, we were trying to rebuild a shattered Europe. This same year we had to move with arms and men to yet another Cold War frontier, the Greek and Anatolian Peninsulas.

In 1948, one more Iron Curtain rang down - this time over Czechoslovakia - necessitating the establishment of NATO to defend the rest of free Europe from Communist aggression. A few months later wc were in the grim struggle to save West Berlin - and West Germany - by means of the Berlin airlift.

As for Asia, our attention was rivetted on the war between Chinese Nationalists and Chinese Communists for control of mainland China. In terms of stakes in the Cold War, our commitments were elsewhere than Indochina. While we occasionally urged France to grant independence to these peoples - as we ourselves had already done for the Philippines- our prime concern was to secure French cooperation in forming NATO. Since France was absolutely vital to the success of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance and was a permanent member of the U.N., we found it inappropriate to nudge France on the matter of colonialism in quite the same fashion as we did with the Netherlands in Java.

In 1949, the Communists had conquered mainland China, igniting a stormy debate within the United States. H was obvious that a nation of 3.7 million square miles, bursting with half a billion people, under aggressive Communist leadership, had to be contained. This containment of Chinese expansion was to become the key aspect of President Truman’s Asia policy.

France argued that while Ho Chi Minh was admittedly the leader of Vietnamese nationalism, he was also a Communist. He was beginning to receive aid from Communist China. Therefore, the French were able to convince us that containment of China meant support of French colonialism in Vietnam.

Vietnam 1946: France Recognizes Ho Chi Minh

Despite the ‘ignoble betrayal’ referred to by General MacArthur, Ho Chi Minh found it convenient to negotiate with French representative Jean Sainteny. As a result of the agreement entered into, in March 1946, France recognized the Republic of Vietnam as a ‘Free State’ within the French Union, under Ho Chi Minh, with its capital at Hanoi.

In return, Ho Chi Minh agreed to the stationing of French troops in the north with the understanding they would be withdrawn by 1951. The French agreed to permit a referendum as to whether all of Vietnam would become a unified, independent state within the French Union.

France abided by neither promise.

Troops were not withdrawn, nor were elections held. Instead, France took a step which was to insure 20 years of conflict - conflict which continues to this day.

On June 1, 1946, Admiral G. Thierry D’Argenlieu, the new French High Commissioner in Indochina, established and recognized a puppet government in South Vietnam.

The Vietnamese desire for independence was frustrated a second time. Subsequent negotiations proved fruitless. So intense by now was the Vietnamese hatred for France that Ho Chi Minh, a Communist, was able to crystallize these emotions into a willingness by many Vietnamese - whether Communist or not. - to fight against the French occupation forces for 8 years, eventually to win.

Gradually, Ho Chi Minh’s forces won control of most of Vietnam. French power shrunk to control of forts and the few large cities. To bolster their collapsing government in Vietnam, France appealed to the one-time Japanese puppet Bao Dai to again become head of state.

Negotiations wen: begun with Bao Dai in 1948, finally resulting in the ‘Elysee Agreements.’ As ratified by the French Parliament in January 1950, the Agreement!; - 278 pages of tendentious legalisms - created three ‘automonous’ states, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In these states, France retained control of foreign relations, armed forces, and, for all practical purposes, finances.

It was at this time, in January of 1950, that Ho Chi Minh sought and secured recognition from the Soviet Union and from Communist China.

On February 1, 1950, Secretary of State Acheson stated that the recognition by the U.S.S.R. and Communist China of Ho Chi Minh’s government should remove any illusions as to the “ Nationalist “ nature of Ho Chi Minh’s aims and reveals Ho in his true colors as the mortal enemy of native independence in Indochina.’

On February 7, both the United Stales and Britain recognized the Bao Dai Government. in May of 19S0, Mr Acheson announced the U.S. would provide aid to restore ‘security’ and develop genuine nationalism’ in Indochina.

With the outbreak of the Korean war in June 1950, President Truman announced the ‘acceleration’ of aid to Indochina. lt was argued in 1950 the decision by President Truman to assist the French in Indochina was a logical extension of the Truman Doctrine which evolved in the Mediterranean in 1947. Under that doctrine the United Stales had sent aid to Greece and Turkey when threatened with Communist aggression.

There were some basic differences between the Greek-Turkish situation and that found in Vietnam in 1950.

Greece was an independent nation wilh clearly established and defined borders, and an internationally recognized government, lt was being attacked by Greek Communists who were based - and financed - from abroad. There was no popular internal revolution in process, no fight by the Greek people for freedom from foreign domination. The Greek government requested help. First Britain, then the U.S. responded with money, arms, and advisors.

Turkey was also a long-established nation with a recognized government whose borders were threatened by the Soviet Union. The government requested help and wc responded with money, arms, and training advisors.

Vietnam was an altogether different situation. For the first time, we were officially committing American arms, money, military advisors to a colonial war on the side of colonial power.

The decision by President Truman was made in a peculiarly turbulent political climate. The fall of Chinn had so charged the political atmosphere in Washington that the French appeal for assistance met readily receptive ears. The overt attack by the Communists in Korea, combined with the Communist recognition of Ho Chi Minh earlier in the year, seemed to justify even more the position adopted by the Truman administration.

In August of 1950, the first American military advisers arrived in Vietnam - 35 of them.

From this point, all opponents of the Bao Dai government were labeled Communists by the French. The tragic, unintended result of this was, as President Eisenhower noted in his book, ‘Mandate for Change, The White House Years’: ‘had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 percent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader, rather than Chief of State, Bao Dai.’

The Eisenhower Inheritance

Aid received from Communist China beginning in 1950 had already enabled Ho Chi Minh’s forces to capture one by one the entire French line of forts along the Chinese border. With the conclusion of the Korean War, Communist China was able to increase its aid to the Vietminh.

In 1953, President Eisenhower took office. He was forced to make basic decisions on Indochina almost at once. Most important was whether to continue assistance to the French, cut it back, or end it. President Eisenhower decided to continue and increase American aid, but to attempt to channel this aid around the French directly to Bao Dai and the Vietnamese people. He hoped to make Bao Dai more independent of France, more acceptable to the Vietnamese.

The French balked, insisting on keeping total control over all military and most economic aid. A relatively small program of direct aid to the Vietnamese continued, although it was resented by the French.

By 1954 our aid program had totaled over $1 billion. As the French military collapse accelerated, we were underwriting a high percentage of the cost of their war.

Troubled Spring

In January and February of 1954 a four power conference met to discuss the status of Berlin. Unable to resolve that question the representatives turned to other matters and agreed that a conference at Geneva would be convened in May to effect ‘a political settlement of the Korean question’ and to discuss ‘the problem of restoring peace in Indochina.’ While not originally intended as a conference to settle boundaries in Indochina, but rather as a discussion of a cease fire. Ho Chi Minh’s artillery was already al work writing a different conclusion. The saga of Dien Bien Phu had begun.

With the French military catastrophe at hand, President Eisenhower had to decide whether or not to intervene directly. The question of American intervention in Vietnam was put to the President on March 20, 1954, by the French Chief of Staff, General Paul Ely. He stated that only by massive American intervention could France hope to prevent a defeat at Dien Bien Phu. Without such intervention, it was intimated, France would be obliged to negotiate a settlement with the Vietminh.

In short, the general French thesis - supported by many Americans - seemed to be that if we did not intervene we would be handing the whole of Southeast Asia to the Communists.

A sharp argument arose within the Eisenhower Administration. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Arthur Radford, proposed a major United States military intervention from the sea beginning with air strikes to support the French at Dien Bien Phu. General Matthew Ridgway opposed this.

Congressional leaders were consulted.

President Eisenhower gave serious consideration to such proposals. However, he also circulated our allies in Europe and elsewhere as to the advisability of and their willingness to join in such an intervention. He made clear that any intervention would have to be joint, not unilateral. Britain was the key, and refused, fearing it would scuttle the pending Geneva Conference and involve them in another endless colonial war.

Furthermore, France would not give satisfactory assurances, even at this late date, that it would grant independence to the peoples of Indochina.

In the end, President Eisenhower refused to permit a unilateral armed intervention to save a colonial regime.

He declared that he could not ‘conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved now in an all-out war in any of those regions (Indochina)’.

The Eisenhower Approach

Several facts are worth noting, President Eisenhower, the professional military man, permitted a’ full, free debate over our Vietnam policy among military chiefs. In effect, it was General Ridgway arguing against the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Radford.

He also listened to Members of Congress who objected to American intervention in Vietnam.

Even though we had expended enormous amounts of aid in support of the French in Vietnam, President. Eisenhower was willing to cash in his chips in 1934, no matter how humiliating it might be to admit wc had backed a loser, rather than throw good blood after bad money.

In other words, he realized the application of military power could not resolve a hopeless political situation in Vietnam.

President Eisenhower had listened to all the arguments and weighed them carefully. Regardless of which individual advanced what argument, the ultimate decision was the President’s, lt was not the arguments that preceded it, but the decision that counted.

The decision had the effect, as well, of cementing as an American position subscribed to by Republican and Democrat alike, at that time, that wc should not become involved in another land war in Asia.

As a footnote to history, General Matthew B. Ridgway was to write in his memoirs:

When the day comes for me to face my Maker and account for my actions, the thing I would be most humbly proud of was the fact that 1 fought against, and perhaps contributed to preventing, the carrying out of some harebrained tactical schemes which would have cost the lives of some thousands of men. To that list of tragic accidents that fortunately never happened 1 would add the Indochina intervention.’

The Geneva Conference

The Geneva Conference was not arranged to preside over the partition of Vietnam nor the withdrawal of France. Events at Dien Bien Phu - which fell on May 7, the day before the Vietnam phase of the Conference opened - dictated otherwise. The Conference did partition Vietnam and registered ultimate French withdrawal.

Participating in the Indochina phase were the United States, France, Britain and iiic Soviet Union, and after prolonged haggling. Communist China. These powers finally agreed that representatives of Cambodia and Laos take part along with a representative of Bao Dai and Ho Chi Minh.

The Conference was uniquely structured in that the five great powers were interested in an agreement on Indochina but were also interested in other problems and negotiations of equal delicacy. Indeed they may have considered the latter of greater importance than peace in Indochina.

The key was the European Defence Community. The’ U.S. and Britain were attempting to found

EDC and felt they could not over-pressure France on the Indochina question. The Soviet Union was equally interested in blocking EDC and pressured Ho Chi Minh to make concessions to France which Ho did not feel were justified. Since the Vietminh controlled three-quarters of all Vietnam, Ho was confident he could quickly capture ‘.he rest. He also felt it was but a matter of time before Laos also fell to Communist rule. Communist China, at the lime, was trying lo present a more moderate image to the world and was willing to cooperate with the Soviet Union in forcing Ho Chi Minh to case his demands.

During the Conference France underwent a domestic crisis because of military reverses in Indochina and elected a new Premier, and thus 3 new set of negotiators. Even so, France emerged from the Conference having salvaged al the negotiating table much of which she had lost on the battlefield.

Ho Chi Minh agreed to pull Vietminh forces out of South Vietnam, which they largely controlled, back above the 17th parallel.

The Conference agreed to withdrawal of “regular troops’, but did not press the issue of guerrillas. There was to be only routine replacement of troops and armament. Reinforcement and introduction of new weapons were prohibited. The population was to be allowed to move freely from one zone to another. A special ‘regroupment area’ was created in Laos for the Communist Pathet Lao, composed of the northern provinces bordering on China and North Vietnam.

On the subject of reunification of North and South Vietnam the Conference made it clear the 17th parallel was not to be a permanent dividing line, it called for nationwide elections within two years, by July 1956. This last provision was assented to orally by all parties except the U.S. and Bao Dai.

The International Control Commission was to supervise observance of all provisions including elections. The Commission was composed of India (chairman) Poland and Canada.

Neither the U.S. nor South Vietnam signed th» agreements. The U.S., in a separate statement, declared it would refrain from disturbing the agreements. The Vietminh probably were persuaded to accept the agreement because they felt confident that in two years the elections would sweep them into power.

Principal gain of the Vietminh was international recognition of their control over what has since become known as North Vietnam.

France - the government and French citizens - emerged from Geneva with Vietnam no longer a drain on resources and manpower, but with their commercial interests intact in South Vietnam. They profited vastly from the American investment, both economic and military, all through this decade. They still profit today.

The New South Vietnam

With Vietnam divided - at least temporarily - as a result of the Geneva Conference, the Eisenhower Administration was faced wilh yet another critical decision: whether to give aid to the government of South Vietnam.

During the Geneva Conference, Bao Dai had persuaded Ngo Dinh Diem to become premier of bis government. Diem was strongly nationalist, ami-French and anti-Communist. He was, however, an unknown quantity, both in his homeland and internationally, as to his ability to govern; many considered him a mere caretaker until the 1956 elections when, they were confident, Ho Chi Minh would come back to power.

The events of the next 18 months read like a history of the Byzantine court. There were American officials - civil and military - who supported Diem, and Americans who thought him inadequate. There were French officials who actively conspired against him; others actively cooperated. Bao Dai - ‘governing’ from Paris or the Riviera - alternately backed his premier, charged him with usurping his power, demanded his resignation, or ordered Viet troops to light in his defense. Diem’s army commander negotiated with the French, or disaffected Vietnamese, to overthrow him.

Diem had no administrative corps upon which to draw, the French were leaving and Vietnamese who had served under the French were not welcome. Great areas of South Vietnam were governed by nearly autonomous religious sects with their own armies. The Saigon police were Mafia-like group of gangsters - also with their own militia.

Compounding the confusion in Saigon, a million refugees from the north fled Ho Chi Minh’s Communist dictatorship and settled in South Vietnam. Diem had to provide housing, employment and food for the refugees and attempt to relocate them.

Ho Chi Minh used the two years 1954-56 to consolidate his power in North Vietnam. No longer leading a band of guerrillas, he took the course all newly-constituted Communist regimes have taken. Those who opposed his rule were killed. At least 50,000, perhaps as many as 100,000 were slaughtered. A peasant uprising was put down brutally. Small landowners - many of them with only a tiny fraction of an acre - were treated as though they were absentee landlords: they were shot.

In short, the million who fled south were fleeing a reign of terror.

Diem: The Successful Years

Diem hung on. For the first time there was a Vietnam independent of both France and the Communists. A group of officials within the Eisenhower Administration argued that this fact alone merited ‘ American support and aid. Additionally, they argued, such aid could now go directly to the Vietnamese people, in line with the original Eisenhower goal.

Thus, when Diem formally requested assistance from the United States - economic aid immediately to help care for the refugees as well as long-term aid programs - President Eisenhower agreed to help in a letter dated October 23, 1954.

That letter, so often trotted out by succeeding Administrations to prove that whatever they did was simply in the line with the Eisenhower ‘legacy’ deserves to be quoted: 1 am accordingly, instructing (he American Ambassador … to examine with you in your capacity as Chief of Government, how an intelligent program of American aid given directly to your Government can serve to assist Vietnam in its present hour of trial, provided that your Government is prepared to give assurances as to the standards of performance it would be able to maintain in the event such aid is supplied.

The purpose of this offer is to assist the Government of Vietnam in developing and maintaining a strong, viable state, capable of resisting attempted subversion or aggression through military means. The Government of the United States expects that this aid will be met by performance on the part of the Government of Vietnam in undertaking needed reforms. It hopes that such atd, combined with your own continuing efforts, will contribute effectively toward an independent Vietnam, endowed with a strong Government. Such a Government would, I hope, be so responsive to the nationalistic aspirations of its people, so enlightened in purpose and effective performance, that it will be respected both at home and abroad and discourage any who might wish to impose a foreign ideology on your free people.”

There are several points worth noting with respect to this offer of aid.

The most important is that a primary condition was attached, and reiterated in several different ways, to wit, that the new Government had to make the proper effort to survive on its own in order to receive economic and military assistance. This principle of ‘self help’ on the part of the recipient country had long been advocated by Republicans.

The letter was primarily ‘political’ in its prescriptions, emphasizing the establishment of a strong’, ‘viable’ government, and the effecting of needed reforms in the country. The military program was intended to establish a climate of security to make the former possible.

A month previous, in September 1954, the Seato agreement and the Manila Pact had been agreed to by the U.S. and other nations, specifically giving the states of Indochina a guarantee against aggression from the outside and subversion from within.

This, plus the promise of aid, had the immediate effect of giving the Diem Government a combination of psychological, economic and military support necessary for it to survive.

Diem, thereafter, moved first against the gangsters around Saigon, and after defeating and dispersing them, disarmed and suppressed the autonomous religious sects. By October 1955, he felt strong enough to propose a referendum between the absent Bao Dai and himself. It was clear that Diem would have won overwhelmingly in any event, but his brother felt it necessary to manipulate the election giving Diem about 98 percent of the vote. This was the first indication that Diem’s concept of a ‘viable’ government was one in which authority was centralized in the person of the President.

The 1956 Nonelection

The Geneva Agreement called for a national plebescite in Vietnam by July 1956. That election was never held.

Diem knew that were the election to be held, it would be a popularity contest between himself and Ho Chi Minh; and he knew Ho would quite likely win. Ho was far better known as the leader in the fight against France. He had the aura of success about him. On a head-count basis there were simply more votes to be cast in the north than in South Vietnam. Further, Diem felt the International Control Commission could not supervise the election properly in the North and that Ho could as easily manipulate the polling there as Diem had in his own election in 1955. Finally, France, which had been commissioned at Geneva to help the ICC supervise the election in the south had pulled out completely, early in 1955, at Diem’s insistence. The Geneva coch airman, Britain and Russia did not name a replacement for the French.

So, Diem decided against allowing the election.

He defended his action by saying neither his Government nor the United States had agreed at Geneva to the election and therefore were not bound by that agreement, and that France, which had agreed was gone. Technically, perhaps, he was correct. His decision foreshadowed a renewal of guerrilla activity a year later, in 1957, which became dangerously widespread and brutal in 1959-60.

Diem in Decline

Diem, by . 1957, had taken other actions which made the renewal of revolutionary, guerrilla warfare both inevitable and successful.

He suppressed all political opposition in the south, and not just the Viet Cong, but those who attempted to criticize him through the regular channels of parliament and press. His administration drew to a large extent from the Catholic refugees from the north, causing the beginnings of friction with the largely Buddhist population of the south.

Throughout history Vietnam’s thousands of villagers were traditionally governed by village chiefs or head men. These village leaders had their family roots deep in the local soil, many having lived in the same village for centuries. Diem chose to replace many of these village headmen with appointees of his own from Saigon, causing deep resentment among the villagers so governed.

This resentment made it easier for the Viet Cong to draw much of its early support from nonCommunist South Vietnamese. Many of the revolutionists in the South were not necessarily Communists to begin with, but rather anti-Saigon or anti-Diem.

The Eisenhower Administration has been criticized for not pushing Diem harder on political reforms’. What is really meant is that Diem allowed the power structure he had so carefully put together in 1954-55 to disintegrate. To talk of superimposing western democratic institutions overnight on the Vietnamese culture is pointless. There exists no truly democratic nation from Burma to the gates of China in all of Southeast Asia.

A candid statement as to Diem’s disintegrating regime, however, should not obscure one important point.

President Eisenhower stuck to his basic position that if there was a solution in South Vietnam, it was political and not military, insofar as the United

States was concerned. That fundamental precept was not to be altered until 1961 when the new administration of President John F. Kennedy took office.

Thus, the Republican position could be summarized:

  1. No American armies in Asia, noland war in Asia;
  2. No commitment to aid colonialism or to suppress nationalism in Asia;
  3. In any event, no unilateral military intervention; a resort to force only under some international sanction, in particular the U.N.;
  4. Any multilateral commitment to force should be in a specific area, for a specific, limited purpose in order to keep the conflict localized;
  5. Specifically in South Vietnam, the supplying of aid - money, supplies, arms - but not U.S. armies.

Part II

Years of Failure

The Kennedy Administration

In 1961 President Kennedy had most of the same options President Eisenhower had in 1953; he could continue economic and military aid with the same emphasis on a political solution; he could increase aid, cut it, or phase it out. The choice was his.

We tend to forget the political climate of the time. The tone of the new administration was one of disdain for the performance of Eisenhower, particularly in the field of foreign affairs. There was a tendency in the Kennedy administration to believe that everything could be fixed if the proper American was sent there to fix it.

On April 30, in Vietnam, a group of 18 South Vietnamese leaders who had fought against the French signed an open letter to Diem demanding economic, administrative and military reforms. By November 11, anti-Diem feeling was so intense a military coup by elite para troop battalions was attempted against the Diem regime. It failed.

One month later, in December 1960, the National Front for Liberation of South Vietnam - NLF - was formed by militant South Vietnamese insurgents - mostly Communists. Their platform was a renewal of open, armed warfare against the Saigon government, following 3 years of terror and assassination.

In dealing with the NLF, successive Democratic Administrations have assumed since 1961 that the revival of the war in the South was undertaken solely at Hanoi’s initiative. Secretary of State Dean Rusk says the war in the south “could end literally in 24 hours” if Hanoi so decided.

U.S. State Department assumptions that (I) South Vietnamese Communists are totally controlled by Hanoi, and (2) there is absolutely no difference between the ambitions of the two, are open to question.

It should be noted that the NLF has been southern oriented. Forty of their senior leaders were native South Vietnamese. The South Vietnamese Communists have, in the past, found Hanoi quite willing to enter into agreements at the expense of the South Vietnamese whether Communist or not. Examples:

One, on March 6, 1946. Ho Chi Minh entered into an agreement with the French which provided for a ‘free state’ embracing what is now North Vietnam, butleaving southern Vietnam under French control.

Two. a second agreement on September 14, 1946, further confirmed Paris rule over the South Vietnamese.

Three.the Geneva Agreements of July 1954, left the south under control of the Diem government for at least 2 more years - this when most of the south was already under Communist control.

Four, thereafter, neither Hanoi nor Peking, nor Moscow made strong representations against dropping elections in 1956, in effect confirming Diem’s control and leaving the South Vietnamese Communists out in the cold.

All of which is a reminder to the South Vietnamese Communists that North Vietnam has separate interests, and has. not in the past been the most reliable of allies.

On January 29, 1961. Hanoi Radio recognized the NLF, praised it and shortly thereafter infiltration from North Vietnam into the south was stepped up. Terrorism was on the rise; assassinations of South Vietnamese increased; attacks on Diem military forces rose in number and ferocity.

President Kennedy, concerned with this increased Communist activity, told a news conference on May 5, . 1961, use of American forces in South Vietnam was under consideration.

Thereafter, American counter-insurgency forces were moved into South Vietnam; President Kennedy reverted to old fashioned gunboat diplomacy and sent an aircraft carrier to demonstrate off Haiphong; troops were sent into Thailand and then withdrawn to show our strength and readiness to move.

From the vantage point of 1967 these maneuvers seem to have the thrust and feint of shadow boxing, but they were military actions and made more fateful military actions which were to follow much easier.

The Parade to Saigon

In 1961,too, began a parade of political, diplomatic and military figures from Washington to Saigon. May 11, six days after the President’s press conference. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was dispatched to Southeast Asia. Warmed by a cordial, two-day session, Mr. Johnson likened President Diem to George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.

In a joint statement at Saigon, May 13, Diem and Mr. Johnson said:

The United States recognizes that the President of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, who was recently reelected to office by an overwhelming majority of his countrymen despite bitter Communist opposition, is in the vanguard of those leaders who stand for freedom on the periphery of the Communist empire of Asia.’

On returning from Southeast Asia, Vice President Johnson wrote a memorandum to President Kennedy dated May 23, 1961:

The fundamental decision required of the United States - and time is of the greatest importance - is whether we are to attempt to meet the challenge of Communist expansion now in Southeast Asia by a major effort in support of the forces of freedom in the area or throw in the towel. This decision must be made in a full realization of the very heavy and continuing costs involved in terms of money, of effort, and of U.S. prestige. It must be made with the knowledge that at some point we may be faced with the further decision of whether we commit major U.S. forces to the area or cut our losses and withdraw should our efforts fail. We must remain master of this decision.’

Close upon the Vice President’s heels, Professor Eugene Staley of Stanford University visited Saigon for the Administration. He was commissioned to direct an all-embracing study which was to form the basis for a new program of American aid.

Staley Strategic Hamlets

Staley prescribed large increases in the Vietnamese army, the Civil Guard and village militia, together with an increased flow of arms and radio communications equipment. Most of this equipment which went to the villages was later acquired by the Viet Cong.

The Staley plan also called for creation of the Strategic Hamlet, whereby scattered villagers would be brought together in compounds better to protect them from marauding Viet Cong. It was based on the successful British tactic in Malaya.

There were, however, basic differences between the British situation in Malaya a decade earlier and that found in Vietnam in 1961.

First, with the cooperation of the Thailand government, the British were able to seal the border and therefore deny the Communists in Malaya any overland supply routes.

Second, the Communist foe were largely Chinese aliens, squatters, and therefore readily identifiable.

Third, the native Malayan people were willing to cooperate because of the hostility with which they regarded these Chinese aliens. At most in Malaya the hard-core Communist terrorists numbered no more than 8,000 and the total Chinese population something over 400,000.

Fourth, the French had already tried it during their war in Vietnam’ and failed.

In Vietnam there could be no sealing off of the Laotian border which was controlled by Communists. Infiltration and cross-border movement were easy for the guerrillas. In Vietnam, the Communist guerrillas were indigenous and could not be distinguished from non-Communist villagers. In Vietnam the villagers had lived on the same land for generations. They objected vehemently to being moved from their villages into what could too often be described as concentration camps. Finally, in Vietnam the guerrillas totalled between 15,000 and 20,000 armed men in 1961 and by 1962 this figure had grown to 30,000.

Yet, President Kennedy approved the program.

On September 17, 1961, R. G. K. Thompson, former permanent Defense Secretary in Malaya, was brought to Vietnam to put the Staley plan into action.

The Taylor-Rostow Mission

On October 11, 1961, President Kennedy announced he was sending his military advisor, General Maxwell Taylor, and Economist Walt W. Rostow, then the President’s Deputy Assistant foi National Security Affairs, to South Vietnam. Their mission, charged the President was to find out whether Vietnamese nationalism had turned irrevocably against us or still might serve as a basts for the fight against Communism.’ it is generally agreed that the Taylor report contained not simply recommendations to beef up and improve military operations, but made a strong case for sweeping political reforms in the Diem government, including increased freedom of speech, some form of decentralization, and. the release from from jail of bona fide nationalist leaders.

Unfortunately, General Taylor’s report was severely denounced by the government-centrolled Saigon press for what it termed an attempt to infringe on South Vietnamese sovereignly. On November 24, 1961, the newspaper Thoi-Bao ran an eight-column headline: ‘Republic of Vietnam No Guinea Pig for Capitalist Imperialism - Is It Not Time to Revise Vietnamese-American Collaboration?’ The accompanying article, echoed by other Saigon newspapers, contained accusations of American ‘interference’ with internal affairs of South Vietnam, aimed at ‘gaining profits under the exploitation policy of capitalist imperialism.’ The Diem government refused, to be swayed by broad diplomatic hints that we might recall our Ambassador if reforms were not effected.

The result was a joint American-Vietnamese eleven-point declaration of January 1962, which was clearly a compromise in favour of Saigon. The political reforms urged by Taylor were watered down, but military and economic support were increased.

The Qualitative Shift

The war in Vietnam - and American involvement - had taken a qualitative shift. By the end of 1961, it became apparent that the Kennedy Administration had opted for military intervention.

Arthur Schlesinger admits that Mr Kennedy’s decision at the end of 1961 ‘was to place the main emphasis on the military effort.’

The first American soldier was killed in open combat in 1961.

Perhaps the most succinct account of President Kennedy’s decision to escalate the Vietnam conflict is that of his Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Robert Manning, who wrote in April 1967:

One day late in 1961, President Kennedy discussed with his counselors a decision to increase the American “presence” in South Viet Nam from a few hundred “military advisers” to a military force of 15,000 men. Undersecretary of State George Ball opposed this, arguing that it would seriously alter the character of the war and, might eventually suck more than 300,000 American men into action there. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara agreed that Ball’s reservations were fair ones, but they were willing to risk the consequences. Kennedy decided that he was too.

Hindsight marks that decision as a critical step in this country’s creeping escalation toward international tragedy and a domestic crisis of politics and morality. Yet in the news reports of the day it was characterized only as a “modest” increase in American advisory help to the beleagured South Vietnamese government.

What if news reporters had been told of the full discussion? They would have reported that the United States had decided to increase its commitment to 15,000 men, that this might lead to the involvement of as many as 300,000 soldiers - then unthinkable - and that the President’s advisers disagreed about taking such a step. If the newsmen had told that story, how would the American public have reacted? Would the course of history have been changed?’

The two principal historians of the Kennedy Administration, Theodore Sorensen and Schlesinger, both plead that past American policy gave Mr Kennedy virtually no alternative. Schlesinger wrote that President Kennedy ‘had no choice now but to work within the situation he had inherited’, and Dulles’ policy in South Vietnam had ‘left us in 1961 no alternative but to continue the effort of 1954.’ Sorensen agreed.

Accepting this thesis at face value - that an entire Democratic Administration was bereft of alternatives - pictures President Kennedy as a mere robot wilh no responsibility for whatever actions he took in Vietnam. Carried to its ultimate absurdity this thesis presents Lyndon Johnson as a captive of George Washington’s policies, with no

Teal justification for quadrennial Presidential elections.

United States Again Backs Diem

By February 7, 1962, the total of U.S. military personnel in South Vietnam had increased to 4,000. Three weeks later, two fighter planes piloted by members of the South Vietnamese Air Force, bombed and strafed President Diem’s Saigon palace. Diem’s relations with American newsmen were deteriorating as correspondents for U.S. papers and networks were booted out of South Vietnam with increasing frequency. Yet the Kennedy Administration, by the beginning of March 1962, was attempting to rally public opinion behind Diem. Time described it this way on February 23, 1962:

Whatever the difficulties, the U.S. is slicking with Diem. Speaking last week to Rotarians in Saigon, U.S. Ambassador Frederick Nolting Jr. urged critics of Diem to be boosters instead of

Note. - The historian searching for a motive in President Kennedy’s decision to opt for a military solution in Vietnam finds two separate accounts. The first is that of James Reston, New York Times editor: ‘A few minutes after this meeting (with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961) President Kennedy told me that apparently Khrushchev had decided that “anybody stupid enough to get involved in that situation (the Bay of Pigs) was immature, and anybody who didn’t see it thru was timid and, therefore, could be bullied.” ‘ Mr.

Reston says President Kennedy then put 12,000 American soldiers into Vietnam as an offset to Khrushchev’s estimate of him, altho he was amply warned that he was creating an unlimited commitment and was violating all his pronouncements about not allowing the United States to get into an Asian land war. (Washington Daily News, June 2, 1966.) The second account is found in ‘Facing the Brink’ by Edward Weintal and Charles Bartlett. Had he not suffered reverses in the Bay of Pigs and Laos,’ they write, ‘it may well be that President Kennedy would have thought twice before expanding the Viet Nam commitment early in 1962 from 700 to 11,000 advisers. Had he followed a long-range policy plan rather than an understandable concern for his image as a result of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, he might have reduced rather than increased the Viet Nam commitment.’ naysayers. “The divisions among patriotic, antiCommunist Vietnamese, which are no secret to anyone here,” said Nolting, ‘ are in my judgment a great barrier to your country’s progress and a real danger to your country’s survival.” Conceding that Diem was taking his own sweet time in instituting reforms, Nolting said that he agreed “to a certain extent” with those Vietnamese who complain that “the real benefits of a free society are not getting through to the people.” But he also praised Diem’s “dedicated and courageous leadership,” added that reforms “could be accomplished relatively quickly if only more people were willing to work and sacrifice lo accomplish them.” ‘

Washington soon after, according to The New York Times, instructed the American Mission in Saigon ‘to get along with President Ngo Dinh Diem’s regime come hell or high water and forget about political reforms.’

Lest the scale be tipped too far against Diem, it must be remembered the fabric of his regime was further weakened by acts of Communist terrorists. During 1962, an estimated 1,700 South Vietnamese civilians were assassinated by the Viet Cong, frequently with unimaginable barbarism, and 9,688 were kidnapped. Their targets were not just Diem’s unpopular village administrators but schoolteachers and those engaged in agriculture and social reform: literally irreplaceable citizens of South Vietnam.

Peking Proposal

On March 1, 1962, Secretary Rusk commented on the request by Peking of February 24, 1962 that the co-chairmen of the 1954 Geneva Conference, and other countries concerned, consult regarding Vietnam.

Said Rusk, ‘The United States is always prepared to talk about situations which represent a threat to the peace, but what must be talked about is the root of the trouble; in this case it is the Communist aggression against Vietnam in disregard of the Geneva Accords.’

No talks were held.

The ICC Report

On June 2, 1962, the Canadian and Indian members of the International Control Commission in Vietnam created by the 1954 Geneva Accords issued a report - which Poland refused to signcharging North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States with Factual violations of the Geneva Accord.

Thereafter, the Commission issued no more reports until 1965.

IIA Marines In Thailand

In 1961, The Three Princes War resumed in Laos. The U.S. had withdrawn its chips from the middle or ‘Neutral’ Prince and placed them on the ‘Rightist’ Prince. His Royal Laotian Army suffered serious defections and reverses in 1962, and was driven by the Neutralist forces and Pathet Lao Communist forces across the Mekong River into Thailand. On May 15, 1962, at the request of Thailand, President Kennedy dispatched a force of 5,000 U.S. Marines into northern Thailand. On July 30, 1962, the Marines were withdrawn. Their effect on the outcome of the Geneva Conference on Laos was, at best, problematical.

The Conference convened in 1961, and finally achieved agreement in 1962. The agreement was billed by the Kennedy administration as neutralizing all of Laos. Actually it left untouched the Pathet Lao control of the Laotian territory bordering on Vietnam, through which North Vietnamese have been infiltrating to South Vietnam and supplying the Vietcong.

About this time, in 1962, comforting analyses of the Vietnam conflict by two of the most prominent U.S. State Department officials were offered for public consumption, one as to the inferiority of the enemy and the other as to the limited nature of our commitment.

Said Under Secretary of State George W. Ball:

The guerrillas whom the Vietnamese Army is fighting arc under distinct handicaps. In many cases they are poorly trained and equipped and not motivated by deep conviction. Rather, they are merely unsophisticated villagers or peasants who have been conscripted by terror or treachery. In such a case they are likely to have had only rudimentary training in weapons-handling and tactics. Their equipment may be makeshift, often just what they can capture or fabricate themselves.

Only the leaders and the hard’ core have a strong ideological commitment. The rank and file are their puppets - those whom they have bought, coerced, or intimidated.’

And Mr. Kennedy’s roving ambassador Averell Harriman, in explaining why we could afford a military commitment in Vietnam but not Laos, said:

In Vietnam, on the other hand,’ he said in 1962, ‘a decision to assist the Republic of Vietnam to defend itself against the sort of attack being waged in that country would not involve the deployment of U.S. combat forces and would not require the occupation of foreign territory by the United States or other Western forces.’

Political Developments in South Vietnam

On June 26, 1962, South Vietnam’s National Assembly extended its own term of office by one year. And when on October 26, the Assembly extended Diem’s emergency powers to rule by decree for another year, it was an act of near prophecy, for Diem was assassinated precisely one year and seven days thereafter.

In considering the politics of the Diem regime, it must be kept in mind that in Vietnam, as in most Asiatic countries, no tradition of formal representative government exists.

The Vietnam nationalist parties that formed during French rule were secret movements accustomed to operating clandestinely and often warring with each other. This tradition of secretiveness, of factionalism, of small, select groups composed of men who could be trusted implicitly, continues today.

Diem accomplished a miracle in putting together a stable government, and attracting support of many key factions of the elite in South Vietnam. If there is one point most observers agree on, it is that from 1958 onward Diem seemed to draw inward, losing touch with the coalition he had put together.

More and more, he appeared to rely on the advice of his immediate family and few others. Personal government, not new to Vietnam, was carried to an extreme.

Thus, when crack paratroop battalions surrounded his palace in 1960 and demanded reforms, their leaders were not’ thinking in terms of Western democracy; rather, they sought an end to deliberate use of the personal power of members of the Diem family to monitor the loyalty of civil and military officials, to control both the formulation and execution of policy, to determine who should be promoted in the civil and military bureaucracies, and to manipulate the military in such a way as to interfere with successful prosecution of the conflict with the Viet Cong.

While Communist pressure increased, Diem and his family devoted increasing attention to sumptuary legislation to improve Saigon morals. As an example of the state to which the National Assembly had been reduced, Madam Nhu - Diem’s sister-in-law - was able to dictate legislation prohibiting men and women from dancing with each other. . . .

Meanwhile, Viet Cong victories multiplied. On January 2, 1963, a force of 200 Viet Cong attacked and defeated a demoralized force of 2,000 South Vietnam regulars in the Mekong Delta. Five helicopters were shot down, killing three Americans.

By spring, military action was overshadowed by a series of tragic political events; yet Kennedy Administration pronouncements remained highly optimistic.

In 1962 Defense Secretary McNamara has said, Every quantitative measurement we have shows we’re winning this war.’

On March 8, 1963, Secretary Rusk said the struggle against the Viet Cong was ‘turning an important corner’ and concluded Diem’s forces clearly have the initiative in most areas of the country.’

The Fall of Diem

Of the near-million North Vietnamese who fled southward in 1954-55, roughly 90 percent were Catholic. It was among these people that Diem found’ many of his most loyal administrators. South Vietnam, predominantly non-Christian, found these refugees doubly alien. They were from the north; they were adherents of a Western religion. Whatever favoritism was shown northern Catholics by the Diem regime - and there is some evidence of such favoritism - created frictions and jealousies on the part of the leaders of the Buddhist majority.

On May 8, 1963, in the city of Hue, government troops fired into a crowd protesting Diem’s strictures against flying the Buddhist flag during a religious festival.

Demonstrations spread to Saigon. On June 11, a monk committed suicide by setting fire to himself, to be followed in the next six months by six other acts of self-immolation.

On August 21, Diem’s Special Forces attacked Buddhist pagodas in Saigon, Hue, and other cities, arresting a number of Buddhists.

Diem’s Buddhist Foreign Secretary, Vu Van Mau, resigned in protest. Mme. Nhus father, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States, also resigned along with most of his staff.

Students joined the Buddhist demonstrations. Diem closed the Universities in Saigon and Hue, and all secondary schools in Saigon. About 4,000 students were arrested.

Not all opposition to Diem, his brother Nhu, and his sister-in-law, Mme. Nhu arose from Buddhist leaders. Discontent in key segments of South Vietnam’s rickety power structure was being transformed into rebellion.

Still, on July 11, 1963, Ambassador Nolting relumed to Saigon from Washington with assurances of continued U.S. support of the government of President Diem. He called for ‘unity of purpose’ and warned against ‘internal dissension.’

Newspaper accounts describing the deteriorating situation in Vietnam had long been labeled propaganda by Administration spokesmen. By the end of summer the Kennedy Administration could no longer maintain the credence of the American people that Diem was popular with his own people and was winning the war. On September 2. 1963, in a CBS interview President Kennedy admitted Diem’s regime had ‘gotten out of touch with the people’ and that he believed it could regain support only if there were ‘changes in policy and perhaps with personnel.’

On September 21, Secretary McNamara and General Taylor once again flew to Saigon. While they were there elections were held for the National Assembly. All candidates were approved in advance by the Diem Government. Obviously, so far, no change in policy or personnel had taken place.

On October 2, 1963, the White House issued a summary of the McNamara-Taylor report on their findings. The summary makes interesting reading:

Major U.S. assistance in support of this military effort is needed only until the insurgency has been suppressed or until the national security forces of the Government of South Vietnam are capable of suppressing it. Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement for a limited number of U.S. training personnel. They reported that by

Ae end of this year, the U.S. program for training Vietnamese should have progressed to the point where 1,000 U.S. military personnel assigned to South Vietnam can be withdrawn.’

Added General Paul Harkins, Commander of the Military Assistance Command in Saigon, in the November 1, 1963 service newspaper Stars and Stripes:

Victory in the sense it would apply to this kind of war is just months away and the reduction of American advisors can begin any time now.’

As Stars and Stripes was being delivered to the newsstands that November 1, a military junta led by General Duong Van Minh, overthrew the Diem Government and seized control of Saigon. The next day, November 2, Diem and his brother Nhu were assassinated.

Despite all the clamor, rioting, and discontent among civilians, in the end it was the South Vietnamese military - the group over which the U.S. had the greatest degree of direct control - which was to overthrow and assassinate Diem.

Political chaos was immediate in South Vietnam.

Nonetheless, on November 15, a U.S. military spokesman carried on the McNamaraTaylorHarkins line and promised 1,000 American military men would be withdrawn from Vietnam beginning on December 3.

On November 22. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and a new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, took office.

Lyndon Johnson lakes Command

Once again a new American President had an opportunity to reassess the situation and the American position in Vietnam:

President Johnson could deal with an altogether new government in Saigon; he was not obliged to deal with the Diem family.

The NLF and Viet Cong controlled much of South Vietnam. By June of 1963, the NLF was able to levy taxes in 41 of Vietnam’s 44 provinces.

The NLF had already (reported by Radio Hanoi November 17, 1963) made a six-point peace statement, couched in violent accusatory language.

There were still fewer than 20,000 American troops committed to Vietnam. ‘

According to the New York Times. U.N. Secretary General U Thant met with President Johnson shortly after President Kennedy’s assassination and conveyed to him an offer from Ho Chi Minh proposing talks on a settlement.

He still had before him the DeGaulle offer of August 29, 1963, rejected by the Kennedy Administration, to help work for an independent but neutral South Vietnam.

In December 1963, Cambodian Chief of State Norodom Sihanouk again invited South Vietnam to join his country in a neutral confederation.

While President Johnson had options to choose from. President Kennedy did not leave him the same alternatives which President Eisenhower left in 1961. Actions of the Kennedy Administration had decidely narrowed the field. The American commitment was greater; Americans were actually involved in combat; more and more, American military prestige was at stake.

In addition. President Johnson from all accounts was concerned with maintaining the appearance of continuity in both domestic and foreign policy.

In December 1963, President Johnson made his choice and announced it through his New Year’s message to General Minh of South Vietnam. The message read in part:

  1. . The United States will continue to furnish you and your people with the fullest measure of support in this bitter fight. Wc shall maintain in Vietnam American personnel and material as needed to assist you in achieving victory.

Our aims are, I know, identical with yours: to enable your government to protect its people from the acts of terror perpetrated by Communist insurgents from the north. As the forces of your government become increasingly capable of dealing with this aggression, American military personnel in South Vietnam can be progressively withdrawn. “The United States Government shares the view of your Government that “neutralization” of South Vietnam is unacceptable. As long as the Communist regime in North Vietnam persists in its aggressive policy, neutralization of South Vietnam would only be another name for a Communist takeover. Peace will return to your - country just as soon as the authorities in Hanoi cease and desist from their terrorist aggression. . . I know from my own experience in Vietnam how warmly the Vietnamese people respond to a direct human approach and how they have hungered for this in their leaders. So again I pledge the energetic support of my country to your government and your people.’

Thus President Johnson publicly revealed his belief that American involvement in Vietnam required open-end military commitment.

The President now set the goal as military victory.

At a time when President Johnson was making his decision for deeper American involvement in Vietnam, the opportunity existed to make that involvement worthwhile by insisting on a sound civilian government in Saigon capable of leading the people. Yet, he allowed the military junta to continue its total dominance of the civilian government. The generals neither knew how to govern, nor showed any real desire to learn. Ills Administration, meanwhile, shipped in more money, more guns, and more American troops.

In the 18 months that followed ten governments passed through Saigon in quick succession, each more disorganized than the last.

The Johnson Administration was to express high hopes for each of these ten regimes. General Khanh, for instance - who replaced General Minh in January 1964 - was described by McNamara as an able and energetic leader,’ who has ‘demonstrated his grasp of the basic elements - political, economic and psychological, as well as military - required to defeat the Viet Cong.’ Ect., etc.

Khanh bounced in and out of* the premiership for a year after the McNamara speech, finally was packed off as roving Ambassador to the world.

Despite this political chaos, when McNamara testified before Congress on February 18, 1964, he still insisted the ‘bulk’ of U.S. troops would bc pulled out by the end of 1965.

By July 1964, when Gen. William C. Westmoreland succeeded to the command of the U.S. military advisory mission, our advisory body had grown to about 23,000 but the South Vietnamese whom they came to advise were melting away. During the winter of 1964-65 the South Vietnamese Army had dwindled to slightly over 200,000 men. They had lost by desertion, or to the Communists, a good third of their strength.

Not only was South Vietnam suffering from massive desertions from its army, but shortly after Diem’s death it was discovered Staley’s Strategic Hamlet Program was a crushing failure. The U.S. Mission found thousands of supposedly secure’ hamlets were really controlled secretly by the Viet Cong, who often used them for supply and rest havens. The United States had contributed tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment, including cement, radios, weapons, fertilizer and livestock.

When the Minh junta came into power Premier Tho stated that only 20 percent of the 8,600 Strategic Hamlets the Diem government claimed to have built could in any way be regarded as usable.

The succeeding military governments and juntas did little to remedy this situation. The key to real security for the South Vietnamese peasant lay not so much in barbed wire but in the type of political leadership that would attract his loyalty and make the struggle against the Viet Cong seem worth the risk.

On March 26, 1964, Secretary McNamara admitted: ‘But the large indigenous support that the Viet Cong receives means that solutions must be as much political and economic as military. Indeed, there can be no such thing as a purely “military” solution to the war in South Vietnam.’

The Presidential Election

At this point in history conduct of the affairs of Vietnam was once again influenced by political events elsewhere - the United States was involved in a presidential election campaign.

Through the summer of 1964, the Vietnam situation - ‘both political and military - was deteriorating. Day-to-day conduct of the war remained the responsibility of Kennedy appointees who stayed with the Johnson Administration. Rusk, McNamara, Bundy, Rostow, Taylor, were left to handle Vietnam while President Johnson electioneered.

The first indication of a theme that was to be struck repeatedly during the coming campaign was introduced on March 15, 1964, when the President told the listening audience:

I was reading a letter only today that General Eisenhower wrote the late President Diem 10 years ago, and it is a letter that I could have well written to President Khanh and sent out by

Mr McNamara.’

One of the most trying aspects of living with Mr. Johnson’s conduct of foreign affairs is precisely this gambit which might be termed

Diplomatic Darwinism. By this is meant the President’s insistence that whatever he may bc doing is but part of a steady evolution from commitments made by earlier Presidents, particularly President Eisenhower.

Thus, he was to reiterate during the presidential campaign that his several decisions by which we became engaged in a full-scale shooting war in Vietnam were merely logical implementations of that far away and long ago 1954 Eisenhower letter agreeing to limited aid for South Vietnam - money, supplies and arms, but not combat troops.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

A second justification, equalling the by-now tattered 1954 letter in usefulness, was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of August 7, 1964. The scries of events leading to the resolution began with a July 30 South Vietnamese naval raid on North Vietnamese island radar and naval installations. According to official accounts, the U.S. Seventh Fleet was not informed of the raid. On August 2, a U.S. destroyer on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin near the islands was attacked by North Vietnamese PT boats. The PT boats were driven off with gunfire and an air attack. The U.S. formally protested to Hanoi.

On August 4, two U.S. destroyers reported a second attack by North Vietnamese PT boats. President Johnson ordered U.S. ‘air action’ against gunboats and certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam.’

On August 5, President Johnson requested Congress to enact a joint resolution ‘to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in Southeast Asia.’

Senator Jacob K. Javits (R., N.Y.) questioned the wisdom of such unilateral action on the part of the United Slates as provided for by this resolution. During consideration of the resolution he raised the same issue President Eisenhower had raised 10 years earlier when, in 1954, the French requested American assistance at Dien Bien Phu. In 1954, Mr. Eisenhower surveyed our allies as to their willingness to join in taking such a step. Asked Senator Javits of Senator Fullbright in 1964:

What I wish to know from the Senator is, first: Have we consulted wilh our allies? Second, what are we to look to from our allies in the way of assistance, aid, comfort, partnership, and the future implementation of the resolution? It is one thing to stand alone; it is another thing to stand with seven other countries, three of them in the area, implementing a solemn commitment, which is just as binding on them as it is on us.’

Scope of the Resolution

The joint resolution was in three parts. The first expressed Congressional approval of the President’s action to repel attacks on U.S. forces, and the third part extended the life of the resolution until the President should determine that peace had been restored or until terminated by concurrent resolution of Congress. These two sections were not challenged in the Senate debate.

Section 2 was the center of discussion. It reads: Sec. 2. The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. Consonant with the Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance with its obligations under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United States is. therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member of protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense for its freedom.’

The potential effect of agreeing to this section was of concern to many Senators. During the Senate debate, Senator Daniel Brewster (D., Md.) asked:

So my question is whether there is anything in the resolution which would authorize, or recommend, or approve the landing of large American armies in Vietnam or in China?*

Replied Senator J. William Fulbright. (D., Ark.) floor manager of the resolution and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

There is nothing in the resolution, as I read it, that contemplates it. I agree with the Senator that that is the last thing we would want to do. However, the language of the resolution would not prevent it. It would authorize whatever the Commander in Chief feels is necessary. . . . Speaking for my own committee, everyone I have heard has said that the last thing we want to do is to become involved in a land war in Asia; that our power is sea and air. . . .’

The reply did not satisfy the Senate. Senator

John Sherman Cooper (R., Ky.) went more directly to the heart of the issue. He engaged Senator Fulbright in a lengthy colloquy, part of which follows:

Mr. COOPER. The second section of the resolution goes, as the Senator said to steps the President might take concerning the parties to the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty and the countries under the protocol - which are, of course, Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam. The Senator will remember that the SEATO Treaty, in article IV, provides that in the event an armed attack fa made upon a party to the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, or upon one of the protocol states such as South Vietnam, the parties to the treaty, one of whom is the United States, would then take such action as might be appropriate, after resorting to their constitutional processes. I assume that would mean, in the case of the United States, that Congress would be asked to grant the authority to act.

Mr. Fulbright. I think that is correct.

Mr. Cooper. Then, looking ahead, if the President decided that it was necessary to use such force as could lead into war, we will give that authority by this resolution?

Mr. Fulbright. That is the way I would interpret it. . . .

Mr. Cooper. I ask these questions because it is well for the country and all of us to know what it being undertaken. . . .

Under section 2, are we now providing the President, if he determines it necessary, the authority to attack cities and ports in North Vietnam, not primarily to prevent an attack upon our forces but, as he might see fit, to prevent any further aggression against South Vietnam?

Mr. Fulbright. One of the reasons for the procedure provided in this point resolution, and also in the Formosa and Middle East instances is in response, let us say, to the new developments in the field of warfare. . . .

Under modern conditions of warfare …. it is necessary to anticipate what may occur. Things move so rapidly that this is the way in which we must respond to the new developments. That is why this provision is necessary or important. Does the Senator agree with me that this is so?

Mr. Cooper. Yes, warfare today is different. Time is of the essence. But the power provided the President in section 2 is great.

Mr. Fulbright. This provision is intended to give clearance to the President to use his discretion. We all hope and believe that the President will not use this discretion arbitrarily or irresponsibly. We know that he is accustomed to consulting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and with congressional leaders. But he does not have to do that.

Mr. Cooper. I understand, and believe that the President will use this vast power with judgment.

Mr. FULBRIGHT. He intends to do it, and he has done it. . . .

Mr. FULBRIGHT. I have ho doubt that the President will consult with Congress in case a major change in present policy becomes necessary.

Mr. COOPER. … I know it is understood and agreed that in the defense of our own ships and forces any action we might take to repel attacks could lead to war. if the Vietnamese or the Chinese Communists continued to engage in attacks against our forces. I hope they will be deterred by the prompt action of the President.

We accept this first duty of security and honor. But I would feel untrue to my own convictions if I did not say that a different situation obtains with respect to South Vietnam. I know that a progression of events for 10 years has carried us to this crisis. Ten years have passed and perhaps the events are inevitable now, no one can tell. But as long as there is hope and the possibility of avoiding with honor a war in southeast. Asia - a conflagration which, I must say, could lead into war with Communist China, and perhaps to a third world war with consequences one can scarcely contemplate today - I hope the President will use his power wisely with respect to our commitments in South Vietnam, and that he will use all other honorable means which may be available, such as consultations in the United Nations, and even with the Geneva powers.

We have confidence in the President and in his good judgment. But I believe we have the obligation of understanding fully that there is a distinction between defending our own forces, and taking offensive measures in South Vietnam which could lead progressively to a third world war.’ (Emphasis added.)

Perhaps the most often repeated statement during debate on the resolution was that the United States should not get bogged down in a land war in Asia. There were equally as many assurances that this was not contemplated.

Yet it was made quite clear that Section 2 of the resolution did in fact authorize the President to send land armies into Vietnam and also to bomb North Vietnam.

Certainly, from their colloquy, both Senator Cooper and Senator Fulbright were firm in their own minds that the resolution did authorize whatever actions the President might see fit to take. If this is the correct interpretation, then it would appear the President is on firm ground when he states - as he has so often since stated - that later commitments of U.S. ground forces to combat as well as the bombings of North Vietnam were authorized by Congress.

Congress drew some assurance from its assumption in 1964 that such a contingency was remote and thai the President, being a man of ‘good judgment,’ would not act rashly, would use his power cautiously, would always consult Congress as well as the U.N. and the Geneva powers.

The President was to give Congress ample ground for this belief during 1964. During the entire presidential election campaign he repeatedly assured the American people he was not in office to engage in such a massive land war or to take rash actions.

During the debate on the resolution, Senator Thruston B. Morton summarized the feelings of many Republicans in Congress when he said, ‘I believe Congress should speak loud and clear and make it plain to any would-be aggressor that we intend to stand here. If we make that clear we will avoid war, and not have to land vast armies on the shores of Asia.’ The President found the resolution spoke loudly enough and clearly enough so that he signed it on August 11.

But this was an election year. And the very next day, August 12, the President was to dull the sound and blur the clarity of the resolution - and his own intentions - with a campaign speech to the Bar Association in New York. He spoke sorrowfully of those who were ‘eager to enlarge the conflict’ and then added:

They call upon us to supply American boys to do the job that Asian boys should do. They ask us to take reckless action which might risk the lives of millions and engulf much of Asia and certainly threaten the peace of the entire world. Moreover such action would offer no solution at all to the real problem of Vietnam.’

This thesis, that American boys were not to be sent half-way around the world to do the job Asian boys should be doing, was repeated in an Akron, Ohio, speech October 21.

This was the President’s campaign reassurance to the American people; it may also have contributed to the Communist miscalculation as to American intentions in Vietnam.

Election Year - Bargain Budgets

Reinforcing Congress’s belief that the U.S. commitment in Vietnam would be limited, new obligational authority sought for defense had dropped from $48.1 billion in fiscal 1963, to $47.2 billion in fiscal 1964.

A further decline had been registered in fiscal 1965 when defense N.O.A. (requested in January 1964) amounted to only $46.8 billion. In short, the election year defense requests did not reflect the realities of fighting then going on.

By March 1964, newspaper accounts described Vietnamese reluctance to take U.S. military advice and described the difficulties we were facing in getting Vietnamese troops to fight. On April 25, the AP reported that in the first four and a half months of 1964, 324 American servicemen had become battle casualties.

Beginning in May, with American forces already in combat, reports of serious shortages were verified making necessary the use of dangerously obsolete equipment.

On May 15, Rep. Carl Vinson, then Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced he would call Secretary McNamara for a closed session in regard to a full-scale investigation of the use of obsolete military equipment in Vietnam.

The distressing series of events led Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen on May 27 to declare, While the Johnson Administration falters in indecision, the United States is a party to another treadmill conflict . . .’

By July 1964 the war was costing the United States $1.5 million a day. Announced troop strength in Vietnam had climbed to 18,000.

The Administration found it necessary to request a $700 million defense supplemental appropriation specifically for the war in Vietnam, the first in a chain of afterthought supplemental to follow.

Yet total U.S. troop strength levels consistently failed to reflect the escalation of conflict in Vietnam. On June 30, 1962, total active duty military personnel numbered 2,807,819.

On June 30, 1963, troop strength was down to 2,699,677 and the next year, on June 30, 1964 down a third time to 2,687,409.

By June 30, 1965, after five years of steadily increasing U.S. commitment in Vietnam, total active duty U.S. military personnel had further declined to 2,655,389.

President Johnson’s refusal to allow budget requests to follow, even remotely, the actual course of events in Vietnam was to plague the military up to the fiscal 1968 budget. For instance, in fiscal 1966 his initial defense spending request was only $46.8 billion, but once again, a supplemental appropriation of $13.1 billion was required later in the year.

Again, in fiscal 1967, although the main defense appropriation jumped approximately $11.2 billion, a supplemental appropriation of $12.2 billion was requested and received later in the year.

The effect on military procurement - particularly the so-called ‘long lead-time’ items requiring commitment well in advance of actual delivery - was devastating from 1963 through 1966.

Korea - The Forgotten Lesson

To a frightening degree, these events paralleled the mistakes made over a decade earlier by another Democratic Administration in Korea. Said President

Johnson in his January 1967 Budget Message to Congress:

A year ago we were in the midst of a rapid buildup of our forces in Vietnam. Rather than submit a budget to the Congress based on highly uncertain estimates, I requested funds sufficient to finance the conflict through fiscal year 1967. At the present time the situation is different. While unforeseen events can upset the most careful estimate, we are in a much better position to determine our future requirements in Vietnam. As a consequence, my 1968 budget provides for those requirements on a continuing basis, including the possibility of an extension of combat beyond the end of the fiscal year.’

Said the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee 14 years earlier, in May 1953:

To touch specifically on the budgetary guidelines, it has been testified that the planners could not plan properly for the Korean War because one of the assumptions was that it would be over by the beginning of the fiscal year which was being planned. Budget requests were based on the amount of ammo used plus the replacement of reserve stocks with no thought that the War would continue for a longer period of time.

In hindsight this is a most unrealistic policy or assumption. It may well have had an adverse effect on our military planners. We know that applied to the Korean ammunition program, an adverse effect occurred somewhere because no substantial quantity of ammunition was produced, and this was responsible for depleting our existing stocks. This is the result of partial mobilization.’

Finally, in 1967, Mr McNamara was to admit: Since we can now project our requirements for the conflict in Southeast Asia with far greater confidence than last year, we have changed our basic approach in preparing the FY 1967 Supplemental as well as the FY 1968 Budget. Sufficient funds are being requested in both the FY 1967 Supplemental and the FY 1968 Budget to protect the production leadtime. . . .’

In belated recognition of this fact, the initial Defense Budget request this year is fully $75 billion.

Peace Proposals - 1964

After President Kennedy’s assassination, repeated newspaper stories told of attempts by U.N. Secretary General U Thant to arrange for some sort of peace negotiations between Hanoi and Washington. Their authenticity was denied by the Johnson Administration.

Today we know that Mr Thant, in September 1964, made a serious proposal to Hanoi and Washington that they secretly send representatives to Rangoon, Burma to discuss the Vietnam war. Hanoi accepted the proposal yet Washington turned it down.

According to the late Adlai Stevenson, the Johnson Administration refused to discuss peace in Vietnam with Hanoi because of the possible effect on the 1964 elections.

Secretary Thant agreed to wait. After President Johnson’s overwhelming re-election, he again made the proposal. Hanoi again agreed but the Johnson

Administration, through Secretary McNamara once again refused.

When The New York Times on March 9, 1965 reported that U Thant had undertaken to arrange for such negotiations, Mr Johnson’s State Department denied that it had in fact rejected the Thant proposals.

Only after Eric Sevareid published his article in the November 30, 1965, Look concerning the late U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, including Stevenson’s relevations about the Thant mission, did the State Department at long last admit to the existence of the Thant proposal and that it had been rejected.

This episode, when added to the host of other incidents, utterances, misleading statements, half.truths, outright untruths, emphasizes the hallmark of the Johnson Administration in the conduct of the Vietnam war - a complete lack of candor.

The Americanization of (he War

President John Kennedy once remarked the war in Vietnam could be won only so long as it was their war. If it were ever converted into a white man’s war, we would lose as the French had lost a decade earlier. In the French period, Paris had some 5,000 to 7,000 administrators, plus the French colonials, in Vietnam. Their troop commitment reached 272,000.

Today, the United States has roughly 500,000 military men in Southeast Asia, plus about 30,000 American civilians with more, of each to come, and with Americans doing most of the fighting.

How did this war become Americanized? As the record has shown, a qualitative shift in the American commitment in 1961 - from arms, money, and advisors to armed combat troops - set the stage for increased United States involvement. It also set the stage for the next shift in our commitment, this time a quantitative change.

On February 7, 1965, eight Americans were killed, 62 wounded in a guerrilla attack by the Viet Cong. President Johnson promptly ordered the American Air Force into a retaliatory attack on targets in North Vietnam. Soviet Prime Minister Kosygin was in Hanoi at the time of the first bombing attack.

Correspondents on the scene have speculated Kosygin had gone to Hanoi on a mission to wean North Vietnam away from Peking. The Chinese Communists had not given Hanoi as much material support as promised. Kosygin was in Hanoi to promise Ho Chi Minh more supplies and equipment.

The bombing, when it came, gave the Soviet Union its ‘reason’ - for public consumption, at least - for making such an offer. On February 9, Kosygin made his first public announcement of stepped-up Soviet support for the Hanoi regime.

Each of the first three raids, we carefully notified Moscow, were in retaliation for specific attacks against American military personnel in South Vietnam.

Bombing and Troops - Up and Up

During this period the military situation in South Vietnam was deteriorating badly. Vietnamese army units were being defeated daily; the Vietnamese army was losing a battalion a week; district capitals were falling weekly; village strongpoints were being overrun nightly.

Within this framework the President stepped up the bombing of North Vietnam, no longer as retaliatory raids but as an effort to break the supply route to the South which Ho was using to supply the Vict Cong. American military strength in South Vietnam began to climb dramatically, by mid-1965 we had 53,000 ground troops in Vietnam and by year’s end over 200,000.

The escalation continued through 1966. Our bombings, formerly tactical - to interdict supply routes - were now strategic, as well, aimed at whatever steel mills, powerplants, industrial complexes existed. By spring of 1967, the United States had committed 500,000 men to a land war in Asia and was spending, for that conflict alone, one-fifth of its entire national budget.

In casualties, there are over 9,000 Americans dead: 50,000 wounded.

We have lost over 1,200 airplanes and nearly 800 helicopters.

Yet at the beginning of April 1967, the United States and South Vietnamese were able to claim control over fewer villages and hamlets than in 1962.

Administration Policy

In 1961 the State Department issued a white paper on Vietnam which emphasized the indigenous nature of the conflict. It said in part:

The basic pattern of Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communist) activity is not new, of course. It operated, with minor variation, in China, and Mao Tse-tung’s theories on the conduct of guerilla warfare are known to every Viet Cong agent and cadre. Most of the same methods were used in Malaya, in Greece, in the Philippines, in Cuba, and in Laos. If there is anything peculiar to the Vietnam situation, it is that the country is divided and one-half provides a safe sanctuary from which subversion in the other half is directed and supported with both personnel and material.’ [Emphasis added.]

By 1965 the indigenous character of the Viet Cong was being played down in favor of the new theme; that is, aggression from the north. Said the 1965 State Department white paper on Vietnam, in part:

The war in Vietnam is a new kind of war, a fact as yet poorly understood in most parts of the world. Much of the confusion that prevails in the thinking of many people, and even many governments, stems from this basic misunderstanding. For in Vietnam a totally new brand of aggression has been loosed against an independent people who want to make their own way in peace and freedom.

Vietnam is not another Greece, where indigenous guerrilla forces used friendly neighbouring territory as a sanctuary. [Emphasis State’s own.]

Vietnam is not another Malaya, where Communist guerrillas were, for the most part, physically distinguishable from the peaceful majority they sought to control. “Vietnam is not another Philippines, where Communist guerrillas were physically separated from the source of their moral and physical support.’

Perhaps the State Department was correct in its new assessment of the nature of the war. Perhaps, too, the increased North Vietnamese involvement was to match increased U.S. commitment to battle.

Preconditions to Negotiations

This second white paper was issued during a three-week lull between the first retaliatory air raids on North Vietnam in 1965 and the commencement of sustained bombing. During this lull, U Thant, recognizing the possibility of retaliation turning into open warfare, approached Hanoi and Washington with a renewed plea for negotiations.’

The Johnson Administration at this point laid down what seemed to be two basic preconditions to peace negotiations:

That Hanoi accept South Vietnam as a separate and independent State.

That Hanoi agree to pull all forces out of the South.

Meanwhile, a separate appeal’ had come from the conference of 17 so-called nonaligned nations meeting at Belgrade asking Hanoi to negotiate. Both appeals - Thant’s and the nonaligned nations’ - were dismissed by Hanoi on grounds the United States had already rejected any negotiations on a no-preconditions’ basis.

Johnson Position Hardens

In retrospect, it is clear the Johnson Administration did not wish to negotiate during this period. The Saigon government controlled barely 20 percent of South Vietnam. Its generals made no bones of the fact they were losing to the Viet Cong. To come to the bargaining table in hopes of salvaging an independent South Vietnam would be asking the impossible. In 1954, at Geneva, Ho Chi Minh had agreed to relinquish the area of Vietnam south of the 17th parallel in return for nationwide elections in 1956, elections which failed to materialize. For the U.S. to hope for similar concessions in 1965 was unrealistic.

In commenting on the President’s attitude toward negotiation at this time, Senator Albert Gore (D., Tenn.) said:

We know that at one time President Johnson opposed negotiation. He was very much opposed to negotiation or a negotiated settlement at the time I suggested more than a year ago . . . Fortunately at his speech at Johns Hopkins (in April 1965), he changed his strategy and came to what I think was a far more realistic defensible, feasible position.’

President Johnson added to the confusion surrounding a negotiated settlement when, on March 25, 1965, he said, ‘We seek no more than a return to the essentials of the agreements of 1954 - a reliable agreement to guarantee the independence and security of all in Southeast Asia’.

Did the President indeed wish to return to the essentials of the 1954 Geneva Agreement? To hold nationwide ejections in Vietnam as provided for at Geneva? To withdraw all foreign troops as provided for at Geneva? To reunite North and South Vietnam as provided for at Geneva? Or was the U.S. position really the one stated by Dean Rusk February 25, 1965, i.e. that Hanoi must accept South Vietnam as a separate, independent state?

Again, contradiction within the welter of statements coming from the Johnson Administration confuses not only Americans, but allies, bystanders and enemy alike. If a policy of deliberate obfuscation was desired, Mr Rusk and Mr Johnson succeeded. Clearly, too many ‘official’ statements have been made by too many different officials, shaped and adapted to the wants of too many different audiences.

On April 13, 1965, Hanoi also hardened its position, laying down four principal points:

Recognition of the basic national rights of the Viet Nam people: peace, independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

Fending peaceful reunification of Viet Nam, while Viet Nam is still temporarily divided into two zones, the military provisions of the 1954 Geneva agreements on Viet Nam must be strictly respected; the two zones must refrain from joining any military alliance with foreign countries, there must be no foreign military bases, troops and military personnel in their respective territory.

The internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the Vietnamese people in both zones, without any foreign interference.’

The peaceful reunification of Viet Nam is to be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves, in accordance with the program of the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation (Viet Cong), without any foreign interference.

Present Political Situation

The South Vietnamese Constituent Assembly in March 1967, adopted a new constitution for the Republic. It was promptly approved by the ruling junta of Marshal Ky .-The constitution provides for free elections throughout South Vietnam and on the surface seems to provide some hope for stability and political progress.

However, with the Viet Cong controlling at least 50 percent of the territory, and 40 percent of the population - and even more when the sun is down - the significance of the elections seems problematical. Elections for President are scheduled September 1, 1967.

It is also problematic as to how freely a newlyelected government can operate. The military, to date, has provided the most cohesive force in Vietnam, at least from our viewpoint. It can be assumed they will let go of the reins of power reluctantly, constitution or no constitution. The problem, however, is not simply the military in Saigon, according to seasoned Southeast Asia reporter, Marvin L. Stone, in his article. “Vietnam -A Hopeless War?’, in U.S. News and World Report for Dec. 5, 1966:

At the top, it is a Government of power blocs and factionalism, in the French tradition. Leaders in Saigon are preoccupied fighting to keep their grasp on power.

At just about every level below the top it is a Government of local fiefs, run by entrenched military sycophants or petty underpaid civil-service officials.”

This, says Stone, means that District or Province chiefs in the countryside buy their jobs and impose their own ‘unofficial’ forms of taxation to make a profit. The peasant has no place to turn for relief. Adds Stone:

Saigon’s land-reform program, so vital to the aspirations of peasants, has never really been put in motion. In the secure areas, tenant farmers - that means 70 per cent of all farmers in the Delta - ;till are forced to pay up to 50 per cent and more of their rice crops to absentee landlords who have absolutely no obligation in return. A law on the books since 1955 sets the limit at 25 per cent.

Americans here insist that no progress will be made so long as the men at the lop in Saigon are members of mandarin families, or allied with families which have vested interests in land that they have no intention of relinquishing.’

Peace Feelers, 1965-66

The year 1965 marks the beginning of an enormous number of proposals from all over the globe for peaceful negotiations. They can be summarized as follows:

Reconvening the 1954 Geneva Conference to effect a cease fire and eventual peace.

Direct negotiations between Washington and Hanoi.

A mediation effort through U Thant.

Resort to the U.N. General Assembly or Security Council as mediators.

Negotiations between Saigon and Hanoi.

Negotiations to achieve a neutral federation of Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam.

Negotiations between Saigon and the NLF-Viet Cong with Hanoi and Washington * backstopping each side.

Negotiations between Saigon, Hanoi, and the NLF with a neutral nation acting as chairman.

Informal discussions between Hanoi and Washington in a neutral country to determine whether any grounds for formal negotiations exist.

It is physically impossible to compare the texts of each of the proposals and note all the differences, all the conditions, whether they are factual, semantic, or mere nuance. Nor can each such proposal be detailed. For these reasons, this study is confined to the last known U.S. position, contained in President Johnson’s letter to Ho Chi Minh of February 1967, and in the exchange between U.N. Secretary General U Thant and Mr. Johnson.

Previous Administration utterances-at Johns Hopkins in 1965, the Hawaii Conference of December 1965, the Manila Conference of 1966 and the Guam Conference of 1967 - while significant, must be considered in the context of domestic American politics, in the context of current world opinion, and in the context of the actual military situation in Vietnam at the particular time they were issued.

Thus the present position of Mr Johnson and his advisors is the only truly useful benchmark in this spring of 1967. ft is, as best can be judged, contained in the texts of a letter from President Johnson to President Ho Chi Minh, dated February 2, 1967, and in the North Vietnamese leader’s reply, dated February 15, 1967, and translated from the French in Washington:

President Johnson’s Letter

Dear Mr. President: I am writing to you in the hope that the conflict in Vietnam can be brought to an end. That conflict has already taken a heavy toll- in lives lost, in wounds inflicted, in property destroyed and in simple human misery. IE we fail to find a just and peaceful solution, history will judge us harshly.

Therefore, I believe that we both have a heavy obligation to seek earnestly the path to peace. It is in response to that obligation that 1 am writing directly to you.

We have tried over the past several years, in a variety of ways and through a number of channels, to convey to you and your colleagues our desire to achieve a peaceful settlement. For whatever reasons, these efforts have not achieved any results.

It may be that our thoughts and yours, our attitudes and yours, have been distorted or misinterpreted as they passed through these various channels. Certainly that is always a danger in indirect communication.

There is one good way to overcome this problem and to move forward in search for a peaceful settlement. That is for us to arrange for direct talks between trusted representatives in a secure setting and away from the glare of publicity. Such talks should not be used as u propaganda exercise, but should bc a serious effort to find a workable and mutually acceptable solution.

In the past two weeks, 1 have noted public statements by representatives of your Government suggesting that you would be prepared to enter into direct bilateral talks with representatives of the U.S. Government, provided that wc ceased “unconditionally” and permanently our bombing operations against your country and all military actions against it. In the last day, serious and responsible parties have assured us indirectly that this is in fact your proposal.

Lel me frankly stale that I see two great difficulties with this proposal. In view of your public position, such action on our part would inevitably produce worldwide speculation that discussions were under way and would impair the privacy and secrecy of those discussions. Secondly, there would inevitably be grave concern on our part whether your Government would make use of such action by us to improve its military position.

With these problems in mind, I am prepared to move even further toward an ending of hostilities than your Government has proposed in either public statements or through private diplomatic channels. 1 am prepared to order a cessation of bombing against your country and the stopping of further augmentation of United States forces in South Vietnam as soon as I am assured that infiltration into South Vietnam by land and by sca has stopped. These acts of restraint on both sides would, I believe, make it possible for us to conduct serious and private discussions leading toward an early peace.

I make this proposal to you now with a specific sense of urgency arising from the imminent new year holidays in Vietnam. If you are able to accept this proposal I see no reason why it could not take effect at the end of the new year, or Tet, holidays. The proposal I have made would be greatly strengthened if your miliary authorities and those of the Government of South Vietnam could promptly negotiate an extension of the Tet truce.

As to the site of the bilateral discussions I propose, there are several possibilities. We could, for example, have our representatives meet in Moscow where contacts have already occurred. They could meet in some other country such as Burma. You may ha’ve other arrangements or sites in mind, and I would try to meet your suggestions.

The important thing is to end a conflict that has brought burdens to both our peoples, ind above all to the people of South Vietnam. If you have any thoughts about the actions I propose, it would be most important that 1 receive them as soon as possible.’

Ho Chi Minh’s Reply

Your Excellency: On 10 February 1967, I received your message. This is my reply.

Vietnam is thousands of miles a’way from the United States. The Vietnamese people have never done any harm to the United States. But contrary to the pledges made by its representative at the 1954 Geneva conference, the U.S. Government has ceaselessly intervened in Vietnam;- it has unleashed and intensified the war of aggression in South Vietnam with a view to prolonging the partition of Vietnam and turning South Vietnam into a neocolony and a military base of the United States. For over two years now, the U.S. Government has with its air and naval forces carried the war to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, an independent and sovereign country. “The U.S. Government has committed war crimes, crimes against peace and against mankind. In South Vietnam, half a million U.S. and satellite troops have resorted to the most inhuman weapons and the most barbarous methods of warfare, such as napalm, toxic chemicals and gases, to massacre our compatriots, destroy crops and raze villages to the ground.

In North Vietnam, thousands of U.S. aircraft have dropped hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs, destroying towns, villages, factories, roads, bridges, dikes, dams and even churches, pagodas, hospitals, schools. In your message, you apparently deplored the sufferings and destructions in Vietnam. May I ask you: Who has perpetrated these monstrous crimes? It is the U.S. and satellite troops. The U.S. Government is entirely responsible for the extremely serious situation in Vietnam.

The U.S. war of aggression against the Vietnamese people constitutes a challenge to the countries of the Socialist camp, a threat to the national independence movement and a serious danger to peace in Asia and the world.

The Vietnamese people deeply love independence, freedom and peace. But in the face of the U.S. aggression, they have risen up, united as one man. Fearless of sacrifices and hardships, they, are determined to cany on their resistance until they have won genuine independence and freedom and true peace. Our just cause enjoys strong sympathy and support from the peoples of the whole world, including broad sections of the American people.

The U.S. Government has unleashed the war of aggression in Vietnam. It must cease this aggression. That is the only way to the restoration of peace. The U.S. Government must stop definitively and unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, withdraw from South Vietnam all U.S. and satellite troops, and let the Vietnamese people settle themselves their own affairs. Such (is the basic) content of the four-point stand of the Government of the D. R. V., which embodies the essential principles and provision, of the 1954 Geneva agreements on Vietnam. It is the basis of a correct political solution to the Vietnam problem.

In your message, you suggested direct talks between the D. R. V. and the United States. If the U.S. Government really wants these talks, it must first of all stop unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the D. R. V. lt is only after the unconditional cessation of the U.S. bombing raids and all other acts of war against the D. R. V. that the D. R. V. and the United Slates would enter into talks and discuss questions concerning the two sides.

The Vietnamese people will never submit to force, they will never accept talks under the threat of bombs.

Our cause is absolutely just. It is to be hoped that the U.S. Government will act in accordance wilh reason.’

The second expression of position is contained in statements of U Thant in March 1967.

On March 28, U.N. Secretary General U Thant called a news conference and presented a new three-point peace formula that he had circulated secretly in mid-March. Mr. U Thant’s formula was this:

First, a ‘general standstill truce … a halt to all military activities by all sides.’

Second, preliminary talks between the United States and North Vietnam, attended either by Britain and the Soviet Union, as co-chairmen of the 1954 Geneva Conference on Vietnam, and/ or Canada, India, and Poland, as the International Control Commission for Vietnam.

Third, reconvening the Geneva Conference with both the South Vietnamese Government and the Viet Cong as participants.

The day before, Hanoi radio had broadcast U Thant’s proposals, pointedly rebuffing United Nation’s ‘interference’ in Vietnam. U Thant held out hope that Hanoi ha’d not ‘categorically’ turned him down, while U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk treated Hanoi’s negative response as a fatal blow to the Thant initiative.

Yet, as Washington congratulated itself on its good fortune in finding itself squarely in agreement with the Secretary General of the U.N., U Thant had begun to slide back to his previous position that the U.S. must stop bombing North Vietnam as a necessary precondition to negotiations.

Meanwhile, Saigon was reported to be in agreement in principle with the U Thant three-point proposal, but displeased at being precluded from preliminary talks and ‘being treated like a puppet.’

Thereafter, Washington qualified its acceptance of the same three-point proposal by saying ‘it is essential’ to work out the details of the military cease-fire in advance.

And there the matter would seem to rest.


Obviously, there is a great amount of information to which only Mr. Johnson and his advisors have access. A review such as this must perforce rely on materials that have been made public by the Administration, or are obtainable from other public sources.

One other observation is necessary. Deep currents, Asian in origin, hold enormous sway over events in Vietnam yet cannot be adequately treated in a brief political history. A list of such currents is large, and would include the observation that Vietnam is basically Buddhist and Confucian, both ethical religions without a personal god. Thus, Asiatic communism as espoused by Asiatics can masquerade as an ally in the older, more familiar struggle against Western theism. Western colonialism, and Western capitalism.

Such a list would necessarily include also the tragic involvement of Diem’s brother Nhu wilh opium; the profound effect the writings of an obscure French Catholic philosopher, Emmanuel Mounier, was to have on Nhu and in turn on his lonely, celibate brother, Diem; the fact that Nhu and Diem translated Mounier’s ..mnalisme’ ethic into a secret, authoritarian organization, the ‘Can Lao’ (Personalist Labor Revolutionary Party), to control all aspects of government and society in South Vietnam, thereby tragically destroying the coalition they had put together in 1954-55; even the distaste of individual Vietnamese in thousands of daily contacts at levels high and low for open, frank, Western speech compared to their own fluid, often subtle, conversational forms. These accidents of culture, history, and geography, for better or for worse, carry equally as much weight in the Vietnamese conflict today as, say, the effective fire power of the 7th fleet on a given day.

In a larger sense much more can be cited to confound the best of minds in resolving the Vietnamese conflict. The West divides good and evil, and thinks that evil can be conquered. Yet in Asia, a man is generally capable of believing that something is simultaneously good and bad, right and wrong, black and white, in such a manner as to render most difficult real understanding by the Western mentality.

Just as difficult to comprehend are the ‘politics’ of the Buddhists, or the meaning of their proposals for a peaceful, independent Vietnam; we dismiss them as visionary or unrealistic, yet they may be more acceptable and understandable to the South Vietnamese - after 27 years of warfare - than anything we propose in our Western political terminology.

In short, we Americans cannot simply go to Asia, wipe the slate clean, and say to them, ‘This is how it shall be.’ The Vietnamese have their own view of nationalism, quite different from ours, the Vietnamese Communists identify with it, and it renders our involvement immeasurably difficult.

Further Decisions

Does the Republican Party serve America best by saying that politics stop at the water’s edge? That we must rally behind the President? Does bipartisanship mean that Democratic mistakes are Republican responsibilities?

Republicans - for two decades - have believed the United States must not become involved in a’ land war on the Asian continent. We are so involved today.

Republicans have believed that no American military intervention should be unilateral. Our commitment today in Vietnam is primarily unilateral.

Republicans, in 1954, made a’ limited commitment to the South Vietnam Government. Under the Democrats, our commitment has become openended.

Before making any further decisions to support or differ with the President, Republicans might agree to seek hard, realistic answers to two basic questions:

  1. What precisely is our national interest in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos?
  2. To what further lengths are we prepared to go in support of this interest?

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Having made an appeal for brutality to be taken out of the conflict, and having put on record some of the history of this war that I think we can accept, coming as it does from sources which are worthy of some respect, I now turn to the Governor-General’s Speech. This is what he had to say on the subject of Vietnam:

My Government will continue the support accorded to the United States of America. . . .

My Government believes that the South Vietnamese people should retain the elementary right to determine their own future in their own way and will, besides the effective military assistance it is rendering to this end, continue to provide economic and civil aid to South Vietnam.

Does the Governor-General’s Speech indicate any policy of the Australian Government designed to bring about peace in Vietnam? That is left to the American Government and the Saigon Government.

All we were told was that we will continue our support in accordance with our agreement with America^

From day to day reports are published and quoted on whether there should be escalation- or de-escalation of the war. On one occasion in a debate in the Senate a statement made by some Catholic bishops from North Vietnam was quoted. I think it related to the collection and distribution of aid. The Opposition challenged that statement because we had been told that the Catholic clergy. of North Vietnam were practically prisoners and had no freedom of speech.

I have asked the Senate to accept the report of the history of the war published by the American Republican Party. I now ask the Senate to accept a statement of suggested means of terminating this war advanced by other sources which cannot be accused of being contaminated by the Communists, the Vietcong or the North Vietnamese. The Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam now publishes a monthly or weekly news bulletin. On< page . 16 of the 1st February 1968 edition of the ‘Vietnam News Bulletin’ is an article headed ‘17 Bishops Speak Out’. These bishops, who are not under Communist control, influence or direction, seek a settlement of the war. The article which bears the date line Saigon, 5th January, is in these terms:

The Council of Bishops issued today a communique to urge the Catholics to contribute to bring peace to the country. Vietnam has seventeen bishops and one archbishop, the Most Reverend Nguyen van Binh, D.D., of Saigon diocese. After the Geneva settlement in 1934, half a million Catholics left the North for the South. The Catholics now represent about 15% of South Vietnam total population.

The archbishop was one of those who left the north, under persecution, to come within the control of the government that is now defending South Vietnam. We know that it was dangerous to criticise previous regimes in South Vietnam just as it is dangerous now to criticise the present regime and America. It cannot be claimed that these bishops were under any pressure to make a statement that was not factual, nor can it be claimed that they belong to a profession or follow an occupation that would lead them to do other than what they believe to be the best for their flock and for their church. The article goes on:

Following are the main points the statement dealt with state affairs:

How is it possible to have peace if responsible authorities take their vain and flowery promises for actions; if there are laziness, mendacity, corruption and robbery in every strata of the society; if there are people who wilfully live in prodigality or indifference next to millions of war victims, or even pitilessly profit from their banishment and destitution?

How is it possible to have peace if the citizen loses faith in his cause and confidence in his own kind?

We wholeheartedly appeal to our countrymen of other faiths to build up peace for our fatherland, a real peace coming from truth, justice, freedom and charity.

Finally, we earnestly urge the governments of the South and the North to have the goodwill to establish peace together. In the name of God, stop! . . .

We also repeat what Pope Paul VI stated on May 2nd 1967: ‘Stop the bombings of the North and at the same time, stop infiltrating weapons and war equipment into the South’.

That is an authoritative statement by someone who is above suspicion and is not under direction. In the same publication of the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam is an article which calls for a conference with the National Liberation Front. The article is anonymous because of the persecution that might take place if it were signed. Today’s edition of the Melbourne ‘Sun News-Pictorial’ states that a gallup poll conducted in the United States of America showed that 69% of the people interviewed wanted a phased withdrawal from Vietnam. In Australia almost everyone who speaks on Vietnam is calling for action to end the war.

Are we fighting for the people of Vietnam? The Governor-General said in his Speech:

My Government will continue the support accorded to the United States of America and the Government of South Vietnam . . .

Are we to ignore the Catholic bishops and the views expressed in South Vietnam itself? Can we ignore the fact that when the Vietcong raided South Vietnamese towns they received so much popular support that defence of those towns was impossible? Are we to ignore the wishes of the Vietnamese people to bring to an end the shocking crisis in their country? Are we to ignore all these matters because we have obligations to the United States and the Government of South Vietnam, and not to the people of South Vietnam?

Senator Cormack said tonight that we must as an island nation develop our sea power to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of British forces from east of Suez. Unfortunately my time is almost up. As I stated earlier I am of the belief, despite the answers the Opposition receives to questions we ask, that there is some decency and humanity in all mankind, whether the ordinary man in the street or a Liberal Party Cabinet Minister. I believe that sections of the Liberal Party support my views. I have not asked for support of my beliefs. I have asked that the name of Australia be cleared. I have sought an assurance that Australia will not participate in atrocities and that influence will be used to ensure that our allies do not assist in atrocities. For God’s sake let us do something to end the war in Vietnam. Let us not make claims that we will supply further arms until final victory is won or voice patriotic platitudes to the effect that we will continue to fight until there is peace and freedom in South Vietnam.

Senator BULL:
New South Wales

– I wish to support the motion which has been so ably moved by our new senator, Senator Laucke, and seconded by Senator Lawrie. I congratulate Senator Laucke on his contribution to the debate today when making his maiden speech in the Senate. 1 join with other honourable senators who have expressed our deep sense of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. I wish to refer to our late beloved Prime Minister and to endorse everything said about the great contribution he made to Australia, particularly as Prime Minister and perhaps more particularly in the Pacific and South East Asian region. I believe history will show that he established the pattern for the building up of friendship and goodwill in this area which will prove to be tremendous assets to us in the future.

I wish tonight to draw attention particularly to some aspects of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to which I believe more emphasis should have been given. Since entering the Senate I have repeatedly referred to the position of primary industry. It is unfortunate that again I must refer to the desperate plight of many woolgrowers and meat producers of this country brought about by lower prices received for their products, higher ( costs of production and in recent months to the drought which has been particularly severe in at least three States. Many primary producers, and particularly woolgrowers, are facing financial ruin. Figures recently released by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics may have surprised honourable senators. Although the figures refer to the period 1960-1963, we should remember that there is always a lag in the publication of these figures. In the period 1960-1963 36% of graziers in high rainfall areas. and 19% of producers in the wool and wheat areas of Australia received an annual income of $2,000 or less. These figures are particularly frightening because our wool and wheat industries have been the backbone of Australia for many years. In the period since 1963 there has been a further fall in prices, a particularly severe drought and even higher costs of production. I think it is reasonable to assume now that 60% to 70% of those producers are receiving an annual income of $2,000 or less.

To support what I have said 1 wish to quote from a paper presented by Mr A. J. Mclntyre, Wool Research Officer for the Reserve Bank, to the Australian Agricultural Economics Society in February of this year. Honourable senators who are interested in this subject will find it profitable to obtain this paper. In his paper Mr Mclntyre states that in 1965 the gross value of primary production was $3,451m. In 1967 it had risen to $3733m. That seems to be a reasonable position. However, in that period farm income fell from $l,326m to $l,270m. The recorded debt in 1965 was $ 1,302m. In the period of 2 years to 30th June 1967 it rose by almost $200m to $ 1,601m. The ratio of debt to farm income over the same period rose from 98% to 126%, a rise of 28%. Since then there has been a substantial drop in wool prices, costs have risen and a drought has ensued. Mr Mclntyre said in his address:

Changes in the ratio of debt to farm income have been quite pronounced, in some years but can apparently be attributed to temporary factors such as seasonal conditions.

I am sure honourable senators would all agree with that statement. Mr Mclntyre went on:

However the movement in the debt ratio has been generally upward and will probably be much higher for 1967-68. Farm income for this year is expected to be the second lowest since 1949 and there are clear indications of sharply rising debt.

I have indicated what was’ the situation in 1967, and there must have been a substantial increase in the debt since 30th June last. I do not have to emphasise the effects of the drought, which is particularly severe in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Unless good rain comes within the next few weeks, there will be huge losses in New South Wales, particularly on the tablelands where growth will be retarded by the onset of colder weather. This will mean financial ruin for many producers and it will have a big influence on country towns. Fortunately in New South Wales - and this applies to Victoria also - some relief can be gained from agistment in northern areas where property owners mainly because of financial stringency, have not been able to replace stock losses from droughts of the last 2 or 3 years. However, there is often difficulty in getting stock to these areas because the railways are unable to cope with the demand and road transport is fully utilised. I should hope that in view of the difficulties facing the industry at present, the Government will assist the States by providing financial aid to those people who require it for transport of stock to agistment. I am pleased to note from an item in this morning’s Press that the New South Wales Government is to subsidise fodder brought to drought stricken areas and also stock transported to agistment.

Earlier today, Senator Webster referred to the provision of a subsidy on wheat for starving stock. Generally 1 am not in favour of such a subsidy, because I think that every producer should make the conservation of fodder one of his main objectives. However, on this occasion the situation is so drastic that I believe it to be in the interests of the economy of the producers to provide such help. Now is the time for the Government to be looking at remedial measures to cushion the effects of serious droughts in the future. Usually little or nothing is done after rains break a drought. I commend Senator Laucke for his submissions on the question of drought bonds. I support his comments. Because of fluctuations in the income of many producers, I believe it is necessary that they put money aside in times of plenty to provide for times of drought and for other harmful occurrences.

I do not intend to go into much detail. I believe that there should be an early investigation of uneconomic farm and grazing units in Australia. A reconstruction of the dairy industry has been undertaken. It is quite obvious, from the figures I have quoted, that in 1963 about 50% of our wool growers had incomes of less than $2,000 a year and many were living in peasant conditions. In other countries, and notably in the provinces of Canada, it has been found necessary for governments to purchase uneconomic units and to sell portions of them to neighbouring farmers to enable the creation of bigger, economic units. Producers generally are paying the penalty for unwise closer settlement, particularly in New South Wales where Labor governments pressed for closer settlement without realising the damage they were doing in placing new settlers on blocks that were far too small. I believe that the next year or two will be a difficult period. The fall in rural export production, lower prices and greater competition on the world markets for primary and secondary industries will make it difficult not only for the Government but also for the people. I am pleased that the Government was wise enough to increase the Farm Development Loan Fund by $50m in 1966 and also to make money available for irrigation projects. I am glad to note that that Government is taking action to replenish the Farm Development Loan Fund, as announced in the Governor-General’s Speech yesterday.

We must harness our water resources to the maximum extent. Anyone with experience of irrigation, such as I have had, must realise the benefits of irrigation in a year like this. Unfortunately, water supplies have run out in most areas. We should devote our energies and our finances to the establishment of additional dams on the upper reaches of our many rivers.

One matter to which 1 would refer, and which is not unconnected with primary industry, is the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in respect of the metal trades. I do not normally criticise publicly the Commission or any tribunal or the judiciary, but I consider that the Commission’s recent decision was unrealistic and inconsistent. It has caused alarm in industry and in the community. If such inconsistency and such an unrealistic approach continue, they will create confusion. When the Commission opened up the subject of work values last year there was really no dispute before it. Neither the employers nor the unions asked for such a hearing. I acknowledge, of course, that it related to the question of margins which came before the Commission about 12 months earlier. When we consider that over 300 classifications were involved in this consideration, obviously the Commission invited the onset of dissatisfaction among workers in various classifications. The Commission’s decision certainly led to much industrial unrest. In view of the economic situation, the increases awarded seemed unjustifiably high. I do not want to make this my main reason for complaint, because I believe that wages must be determined properly and justly, but the Commission’s suggestion that the increases could be absorbed in over award payments already being paid by employers, without creating industrial chaos, indicates how completely unrealistic was the Commission’s judgment. 1 believe that it is true to say that instead of the Commission settling disputes it created them in that, because of the refusal of many employers to absorb the increases granted by the Commission’s decision of December last year, strikes became the order of the day. In my opinion, too, when the matter was referred back by the employers, the Commission brought down an inconsistent judgment when ordering that 70% of the increase should be paid immediately and providing that later in the year consideration would be given to whether the remaining 30% should be paid. To me, the Commission’s last decision indicates that it bowed to the dictates of the militant sections of the unions. To make matters worse, the Commission even declined to give reasons for its judgment. The relevant portion of that judgment reads:

Because this is an essentially practical decision in which we have striven to reach common ground in a practical way, we will not follow the usual practice of publishing detailed reasons for arriving at the common decision.

Surely it was unwise for the Commission to adopt that attitude. Why could it not give reasons for its judgment? This sort of thing creates suspicion and uncertainty in the minds of both the unions and employers.

Now the unions are pressing for a flow-on of the margins to other sections of the industry and I point out that in its latest judgment the Commission said:

This is not a case in which increases in wage rates in the Metal Trades Awards set a pattern for wage rates in other awards.

Of course, if the unions press for a flow-on of increases and further strikes take place, the matter will be referred back to the Commission again in due course, and who is to know that the Commission will not yield again? After all, there is no certainty as to the type of Bench which will hear the application. Possibly it will be a differently constituted Bench. I repeat that such decisions create lack of confidence in the Commission and I think it is high time the Government gave very serious consideration to revising the powers and terms of reference of the Commission, for it has got to win the confidence of all sections if it is to do a worthwhile job.

I believe that the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and Mr Monk in particular, are greatly concerned by the actions of the militant sections of the unions, for they realise that the strikes that are incited by the militant sections are a tremendous threat to our economy. I have referred to rural export prices, to costs and to the effects of drought. I have referred also to the strong pressure we are receiving from imports. We all know from reading our newspapers every day that there is great need for our continued growth and development as well as an urgent need for money for our national security. The maintenance of growth and development and the taking of adequate steps in the interests of our national security are going to place a tremendous strain on our economy and this is certainly no time for any indecision by the Commission and no time for militant action by those who think they can achieve their ends by striking.

As I have said, other sections of the community are receiving considerably lower incomes, but there is no suggestion that any of them will strike. These people believe that it is up to them to get on with the work to be done. To them, this is a way of life. If these strikes continue, the economy will be thrown off its even keel and many people now in employment will lose their jobs. The militant sections should be made aware of this. They should think twice before going out on strike again.

This is a time for the maximum contribution of work by everybody. Perhaps it will be said that I look at these things from the viewpoint of the primary producer who is at present faced with a very serious situation, but I can assure all honourable senators that great concern is being felt in every country town in my State - no doubt this is so in all country towns - especially in view of the serious drought with which we are at present afflicted. The position is so bad in drought stricken areas that business is at a standstill and there is a tremendous amount of criticism of those who are going out on strike, often in defiance of the A.C.T.U. and its President.

We have got to realise that over the last decade we have enjoyed a time when money has been plentiful. Money will be much tighter over the next 2 years, and even within the next 12 months it is possible that there will be less money available to be spent on the luxuries of life in both the public and private sectors. What we urgently need is a lift in productivity to the highest possible level and an increase in the exports of both primary and secondary products, for these are the things which bring real wealth to the nation. We hear complaints from the Opposition about the inflow of foreign capital, but I submit that all must agree that if this money were not forthcoming our economy would be in a much worse position than it is. If the restriction now imposed by the American administration and by other countries on the outflow of capita] to Australia continues, if this income which is helping to keep our balance of payments in a sound condition ceases or diminishes, serious damage will be done to our economy.

In conclusion, I trust that everybody will realise that we must lift our productivity, of which the workforce of the country receives a share through the arbitration system. I remind those who would strike that productivity is one of the factors taken into consideration by the Commission when fixing wage rates. I trust also that the Australian Council of Trade Unions will keep control over the militants in the unions to ensure that our economy continues on an even keel. If it is unable to do this, then I trust that the Government will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action to ensure that such people conform to the law.

Senator KEEFFE:

– At the outset, I offer my congratulations to Senator Laucke upon his maiden speech. I also congratulate the new Ministers upon their promotions and I welcome Senator Greenwood to this’ chamber. But I am afraid I cannot offer my congratulations to His

Excellency the Governor-General on the Speech which he delivered in this chamber yesterday. In my view, it was a very weak apology for the actions and proposed actions of a very weak government. It set out points of apathy and inefficiency. In fact, at no point did it get down to what this Government ought to be doing in its 2 remaining years of office, if it is lucky enough to survive for that period of time.

Let me refer first to His Excellency’s reference, to the Government’s policy of giving practical help to the less developed countries. The relevant passage in the Speech reads:

The policy of giving practical help to the less developed countries of the world will be continued. In the present financial year, expenditure on all aid programmes, including grants to Papua and New Guinea, is approximately $142 million.

That is but mere financial peanuts in anybody’s language, and I emphasise that a perusal of the way in which the money is to be distributed discloses that the greater portion of it will be spent in Papua and New Guinea. His Excellency said:

My Government regards defence as a major responsibility and the expansion and re-equipment of our forces steadily proceeds.

Steadily’ is a well chosen word. If the expansion and re-equipment proceeded much more slowly one would not know that it was proceeding at all. I have in mind the major upheavals in recent months, particularly in relation to the Fill aircraft. The wastage of taxpayers’ money on the purchase of spares for our new Navy vessels and in a number of other ways has to be examined to be believed. Reference is made in the Address to our Task Force in Vietnam comprising 8,000 men and their equipment. I shall have more to say about that later in my remarks.

His Excellency referred to the new ships for the Royal Australian Navy, including a third guided missile destroyer. Casting one’s mind back, one finds it easy to recall that this programme has been going on for a period of years. There is nothing new in What the Governor-General said on this matter. He said, also, that ‘approximately S55m will be spent this financial year on new capital equipment for the Army’. Some of the boys who are forced to serve in Vietnam would like to know whether some of this money will be spent there to bring their weapons up to date so that they are not obliged to borrow weapons from our allies, sometimes to save their own lives. His Excellency went on:

My Government has decided to reconstitute the Department of Territories as the Department of External Territories so that it may have particular concentration on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

Later in my contribution to this debate I shall tell honourable senators what the people of the Northern Territory think about this matter, as set out in a leader in the daily newspaper published in Darwin.

On 28th February 1967 I spoke in the debate on the Address-in-Reply. It is a strange coincidence that there should be two such debates within such a short period. On that occasion I raised a number of points and suggested that the Government ought to have a good look at them. Today I read through my remarks on that occasion and 1 find that in a great number of instances, nothing at all has been done. On that occasion I said that the Australian people want to know what the Government intends to do to build up a stable economy and to maintain some semblance of full employment. We know from the last figures that in some parts of the country the unemployment rate is as bad now as it was in 1960-61. I do not go along with Senator Bull who, speaking a few moments ago, blamed the militant trade unions. Why does he not have a good look at some of the companies which are profiteering at the expense of the Australian people and bringing about a major portion of the inflation in this country? That is a matter to which I shall return later.

In the debate last year I said that there was no plan at that time to carry out any major schemes of national development and I made a special plea on behalf of my own State of Queensland for something to be done to retain the Snowy Mountains Authority. Since I made those remarks nothing has been done on a national scale and even less has been done for Queensland, except that some money was found for the development of the Nogoa scheme prior to an election a few months ago. I referred on that occasion to the depressed sugar prices and I suggested that there should be more development of export markets. Belatedly, we now have people saying on behalf of the Government that it will do something to restore the Inter national Sugar Agreement. In the meantime, sugar prices on the international market have fallen to about £Stg22 a ton.

In February last year I was critical of the fact that Air Vice-Marshal Ky and the President of the United States had been used for the purposes of cheap political campaigning in Australia. I should have thought that the new Prime Minister might have got away from this practise, but it appears from some of his statements that he is willing to adopt the same tactics when the occasion arises.

Senator Webster:

– To what do you attribute Labor’s losses in the last election?

Senator KEEFFE:

– The honourable senator continually interjects without a great deal of substance in his interjections. He would be better advised to remain silent and to concentrate on his own speech if he gets an opportunity to make it. 1 suggested that the Government ought to improve the lot of our Aboriginals in view of the fact that many months had elapsed since the referendum proposals affecting Aboriginals were overwhelmingly carried in each of the six States. It is significant that, apart from some reference to it being the responsibility of the Prime Minister to set up a department or committee, nothing has been done. In other words, this is just another case of empty words. I do not think that this Government ever intended to ‘ do anything for our natural Australians.

In the debate on the Address-in-Reply a year ago I was critical of the turning of this country into a quarry for overseas companies and foreign countries. This trend has continued at a faster pace since 1 made that statement. When we on this side of the House asked about the development of the oil and gas industry we saw the hurried setting up of legislation in relation to offshore petroleum deposits, in particular, a few hours before the House rose at the end of last session. I made a statement about the matter, as did a number of my colleagues on this side, and I maintain that those statements were correct. That was a shameful matter and it has subsequently been admitted that there were omissions from the legislation which was brought down in such a hurry. My colleagues and I asked what the Government intended to do in the life of this Parliament, about repatriation and the care of those persons who have suffered a loss of health through war service and others who are the dependants of those who lost their lives in the service of this country. Nothing has been done. The Budget came down and no relief at all was given to these groups of people.

I could enumerate a number of other matters, but because my time is limited 1 want to speak in detail on some of the subjects that 1 have already touched upon. When the appointment of the new Prime Minister took place there must have been many people in the Government parties who went through a weekend of worry waiting for the famous telephone calls to come on Monday, 26th February 1968. The so-called complete reshuffle of the Cabinet which was to be made did not take place at all.

Senator Marriott:

– Who said it would take place?

Senator KEEFFE:

– The honourable senator missed out on an appointment to the Cabinet and probably is still sour about it. It is significant that not many changes were made in the Ministry. Two Ministers lost their portfolios. One lost his, no doubt, as a direct result of the shameful display by the Government over the VIP Flight. No doubt the other lost his portfolio - and probably he was not to blame because he was handed the problem - as the result of the dreadful Voyager’ disaster. Honourable senators will hear more on that matter when the report of the second Royal Commission, which cost this country well over $500,000 and was presented in another place today, is presented in this chamber in the near future.

Perhaps the other matter that might be bordering on a scandal was the appointment of the new Minister for the Army. I should like members of the Government parties to remember how he got his endorsement and the manner in which his selection was made. The whole matter was widely publicised. I venture to say that his appointment to the Ministry was not made because he was a Victorian who was to come into the Cabinet to replace two other Victorians. If that were so, the Prime Minister could not have thought much of the other two Victorians. He was not appointed to the Ministry because of his extensive army experience and because he would be just the type of fellow to handle the Army portfolio. It was not ‘because he happened to be a Catholic and because his appointment was to get the Catholic section df the community on side. 1 say that the appointment was made as a result of a direction from an organisation completely outside the Liberal Party. That organisation is gradually growing in the community, is white-anting it and is doing a tremendous amount of damage. If any member of the Liberal Party likes to have a closer look at this matter he will find at least a vestige of truth in the reason that I have given for the appointment.

The other major factor that has appeared since the last Address-in-Reply debate is the instability that has developed in the Liberal Party and in the coalition governments, particularly in Queensland. Dr Hartwig has been sacked from the presidency of the Liberal Party in Queensland by his own council. He claims that the council has not the authority to sack him, but he is being kept out of the office. The Brisbane ‘Sunday Truth’ has invited everybody to attend the box-on that will take place at the Annual Conference of the Liberal Party in Queensland which is to be held in Toowoomba in June of this year and to see whether Dr Hartwig wins or the few people who have deposed him, including Mr Catt and Mr Robinson, win. While this instability remains in the Government parties it will cause a weakening of government at both State and Federal levels.

Senator Marriott:

– The honourable senator knows that from the position in his own party.

Senator KEEFFE:

– If you had had a telephone on Monday, 26th February, you might have received a call and been invited to be a Minister; but the way you are behaving you would not even make a good deputy deputy Whip.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Order! The honourable senator will address the Chair.

Senator KEEFFE:

– Yes, Madam Acting Deputy President, but I would ask you to keep Senator Marriott quiet. I suggest that he go away and prepare his speech. Instability has developed in the coalition Government in Queensland as a result of the decision of Mr Peter Nelson Gracie, who apparently has a secret profession which has not been disclosed publicly, to stand as a Liberal Party candidate in the Landsborough by-election. He has the support of sitting members of the State Parliament such as Mr Charles Porter and Mr John Murray, who at one time served in the House of Representatives, and apparently has the support of Senator Sir Kenneth Morris. That is a quite striking example of the instability to which I have just referred. 1 believe that the statements made by Mr Ahern, the Country Party candidate in the Landsborough by-election, at a meeting in the electorate last night, as reported in today’s ‘Courier-Mail’, should be recorded in Hansard. The report states:

Mr Ahern said last night: ‘I am confident, but we are playing it hard right up to the election.’

Mr Ahern last night accused Liberal Senator Sir Kenneth Morris of ‘sour grapes’.

He was referring to Sir Kenneth’s defiance of the Liberal Party executive by appearing on a platform in support of Mr Peter Nelson Gracie, the unendorsed Liberal candidate for the Landsborough by-election.

Mr Ahern said that he believed Sir Kenneth had done this because of ‘sour grapes that he was dropped from the joint ticket for the last Senate election’.

I regret the fact that Sir Kenneth Morris is the only Liberal parliamentarian to come into the campaign’, he said.

The Premier said at an election meeting at Beerwah - a small town in the Landsborough area -

. that if by chance Mr Nelson Gracie were elected he would not be allowed to sit on the Government benches in Parliament and neither the Country Parly nor the Liberal Party would accept him in the party rooms.

If by chance he is elected we might see a great turnabout. The Premier of Queensland is now Mr Pizzey who is having trouble with his school teachers at the moment. About half of them intend to go on strike because of the Queensland Government’s decision to break down the education system. Also it is a well known fact in this Parliament and in the Liberal Party that Senator Sir Kenneth Morris received his knighthood because the Liberal Party saw fit to dump him in the preselection for the Queensland Senate team and he intended to put on a turn, just as Mr Nelson Gracie has, and run as an independent. The Commonwealth Government was scared stiff. So, to save the Liberal Party’s face, it made sure that he received a knighthood.

Those facts highlight the instability that has developed not only in the Liberal Party and coalition governments but also in the administration of this country. No Minister is game to put a foot outside the door in an endeavour to bring some life into the administration, because he fears for his political hide; he fears that his neck will go on the chopping block and that will be the end of his holding a portfolio. We know that two Ministers were sacked and did not receive the fateful phone call on 26th February.

Senator Webster:

– How long have the present Government parties been in office?

Senator KEEFFE:

- Senator Webster is interjecting now. He was screaming his head off earlier today because he is not able to grow his weevily wheat for the Chinese market. The Labor Party will do something about providing grain for Asia so that Senator Webster may grow fat on the profits from the Chinese market.

Evidence of the unstable economy can be found in the accumulated losses of a number of large companies over the last few years. 1 will quote a few figures because [ believe that they should go on record. The accumulated losses of Cox Bros (Australia) Ltd as at 18th January this year were $28,686,450. My friend Senator Bull says that the trouble with the economy is that the workers want too much in wages. He does not have a good look at what is happening in big business. The money represented in these losses was taken out of the pockets of the little investors, the pensioners and the workers who put a few shillings into shares to have a little nest egg for the day when they retire and have to live on the lousy age pension that this Government pays. They will never get back a penny of their money. Dorr-Lever Pty Ltd showed a net loss of $246,628 for the year ended 30th September 1967. Then there is the famous case of the H. G. Palmer company which lost $40m of public money. Did we hear this Government protest against the small investors losing their money in that company? Of course we did not. We did not hear a word about it. MLC Ltd lost about $19m, which was its investment in the H. G. Palmer company and which is irrecoverable. Nobody will ever get his money back from that company. But members of the Government parties will not shed even a crocodile tear for such investors because the big business men are their friends and they do not want to see them embarrassed by being publicly decried on account of their business methods.

Another example is the stockbroker who was thrown out of the Sydney Stock Exchange. His deficiency was $700,000. Does anyone say that such a deficiency arose from the way the stockbroker ran his business? Or did he cook the books? Bankruptcy proceedings were instituted against him. Because I do not hide behind bushes in these matters, I am prepared to name him. He is William Lionel Dunbar Hewson. He traded on the Sydney Stock Exchange as L. D. Hewson and Co. He was suspended as a stockbroker on 14th December 1967.

Senator Poyser:

– The little investors suffer again.

Senator KEEFFE:

– Undoubtedly, as my friend Senator Poyser says, this would be another case in which the little investors would suffer from somebody fiddling around with trust moneys. How often has this happened? It has happened many times. But do members of the Government, who are responsible for protecting the assets of the people, take any notice?

I refer now to the famous statement of the Prime Minister, which no doubt was made in the glow of his ascendancy to office and while he still did not know what he was talking about. He said that there would be no more troops for Vietnam. But the President of the United States, on the first page of the State of the Union Address that he delivered in very glowing terms, on 17th January 1968, stated:

Since I reported to you last January, three elections have been held in Vietnam, in the midst of war and under the constant threat of violence; a President, Vice President, a House and Senate and village officials have been chosen by popular, contested ballot; the enemy has been defeated in battle after battle- shades of Saigon -

. the number of South Vietnamese living in areas under government protection has grown by more than a million since January of last year. These are marks of progress.

In the latest report published by the United States Embassy I read details of the number of people killed in a week. That was a mark of progress, was it? The International Volunteer Service, which is the main United States relief agency operating in Vietnam, wrote a letter to the President of the United States in September 1967. This letter was accompanied by the resignation of the director, the assistant director and forty-seven other members of the organisation. One member of that organisation visited this city shortly before the close of the last parliamentary session. Some of the things that he told those who were interested enough to listen to him were very revealing indeed.

One of the paragraphs of this letter to the President of the United States of America states:

What we have seen: We have all seen or know about the human results of this war. Therefore we do not need to list an awful tally of atrocities. How Vietnamese react to these atrocities, however, is little known.

One week before the election Vietcong indiscriminately sprayed mortars on the Delta city of Can Tho, hitting hospital wards, and demolishing poorly-constructed houses; the toll: thirty Vietnamese dead, three hundred wounded (the more solidly built houses of Americans prevented any American casualties). A small anti-Vietcong rally was held the next day, but according to one resident, ‘Many of the people here place the ultimate blame on the Americans - if the Americans weren’t here in the first place this wouldn’t have happened’.

One day after the elections a Saigon paper (‘Than Chung’ - banned the next day) ran two pictures of bomb destruction in North Vietnam with the following comment (translation):

We can never accept the one-party system in North Vietnam, but neither are we able to forget our blood ties with our fellow Vietnamese there, just as we are unable to forget the Vietnamese caught in the mortar attacks on Can Tho and Thang Binh . . . ‘

For the Vietnamese, victory at any price is no longer acceptable.

The Government persists in bolstering up the war that is being carried on in Vietnam by continuing to send Australian soldiers there to be killed.

I give honourable senators the example of a man named Jones who, in Adelaide the other day, took on the role of a policeman and called the provosts around because he wanted to see arrested a person who was a Labor supporter. I wonder when that Mr Jones will be volunteering for service in Vietnam? I wonder when the other younger members of the Government parties in the Senate and in another place will give an indication that they are prepared to sacrifice their lives and their health in the same way as they expect the 20-year-olds in this country to sacrifice their lives and their health? That will never happen. Mr Acting Deputy President, members of the Government say: You go and do the dirty work for us, but don’t expect us to stick our necks out where bullets might be flying around*.

In 1967, 677 scientists from all States registered deep concern and revulsion at Australia’s Vietnam involvement. The scientists dreaded the introduction of biological weapons in an area where rice was the mainstay of life for over a thousand million people. Diseases that were being bred for wholesale distribution included anthrax, dysentery, bubonic plague and viral diseases such as dengue and yellow fever. In addition, chemical compounds already being used included two weed killers, tear gas, nausea gas, vomiting gas and irritant gas. There is clear evidence that both nausea gas and vomiting gas have caused permanent damage to the digestive system of infants. Honourable senators opposite ought to be proud of themselves. They are helping to ruin the lives of little kiddies before they have had the chance to breathe properly. This is what honourable senators opposite believe in. No doubt they will continue to believe in it and they will continue to subscribe to this attitude. Australia is just as much to blame as the United States of America or any other country that is involved in this war.

Let me indicate to the Senate the compensation that is paid in certain circumstances in Vietnam. If a Vietnamese mother is killed as a result of one of these accidental bombings of civilians, compensation is paid to her family at the rate of $A30. That is all her life is worth. If the son or daughter of a Vietnamese mother is killed the mother is paid at the rate of $A15. If her home is more than 50% destroyed the compensation payment to her family <s SA21.43. In addition, each family receives ten bags of cement and ten sheets of corrugated iron. If the damage caused to a home is less than 50% , the compensation payable is SA10.72. In view of the black market prices for building materials in Vietnam, I leave to the imagination of honourable senators precisely how much a person would be able to purchase with that sum of money.

On 7th February 1968, Mr Malcolm Fraser, then Minister for the Army - he had not been promoted at that stage - brought out a circular which he said would be on a trial basis. In it he summarised aspects of the Vietnam war. This is a very complete document but it does not say very much about the way the war is being waged. I wonder why no more summaries have been distributed. Did somebody say that this might not be in the interests of the secret agreements that this Government is keeping with some other nation?

The Commonwealth Government also neglects those who serve in Vietnam. I wish to read to the Senate - and this matter shows a shocking state of affairs - a letter that was forwarded to me on 7th February 1968 by the former Minister for the Army. I point out to the Senate that I had written to the Minister for the Army concerning a certain Private E. Nilsen who was killed accidentally in Vietnam on 14th November 1966. The mother of this serviceman made inquiries in January 1967 regarding her lad’s personal belongings. The personal belongings of this soldier which are very dear to his mother on a sentimental basis have not been returned to her yet. Do honourable senators know why? They have not been returned because this well regulated Army under our well organised Government lost them. The Army cannot find them. The Army knows that these belongings were put on a plane in Saigon. It knows the number of the plane on which the belongings were put. It knows that the plane came back to Australia, but from there the belongings disappeared.

The excuse given by the former Minister for the Army is weak. I might add that in the post yesterday a further letter arrived concerning this matter. It came from the new Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) who said: ‘I am looking into it’. We will finish up calling him ‘the mirror’ because every time something happens he is going to look into it. But in reply to my letter, the former Minister for the Army said:

After conducting extensive searches through both Army and RAAF Transport and Storage facilities in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia it has not been possible to locate the personal effects of Mrs Nilsen’s late son.

Although it appears that there is little likelihood of locating the effects, I have issued instructions that the matter is not closed. I have also issued instructions to avoid a repetition of this nature and have written to Mrs Nilsen personally asking her to accept my sincere apologies on behalf of the Army for this unfortunate loss and advising her that if, by chance, the effects are found they will be forwarded to her immediately.

I see that a couple of Government senators are laughing their heads off. They think that this matter is funny. It is not funny. These belongings are of great value to this bereaved mother.

Senator Webster:

– We were not laughing.

Senator Branson:

Senator Keeffe, name the members who were laughing.

Senator KEEFFE:

– Honourable senators were laughing. Do they think that this is a big joke? lt is not a big joke.

Senator Branson:

– No member on this side of the Senate laughed.

Senator KEEFFE:

– If honourable senators opposite have the courage of their convictions, they will see that this search is carried out. During the last World War, 800,000 people in this country were mobilised in an all out effort by this country. This sort of thing to which I have just referred did not happen unless a ship was bombed or an aeroplane was shot down. It might have happened then. There is no reason why it should have happened in this instance. This is a peacetime war, a private war that the Government is running. Give this woman a fair go. If honourable senators opposite have the courage of their convictions, they should get on to the new Minister for the Army and see whether he has got the guts to do the job.

Might I refer now to the complete lack of provision for repatriation treatment under this Government, as has been shown over a long period of time. In my home city of Townsville representations have been made for the stationing in that city of a fulltime repatriation officer. I am sorry that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) is not in the chamber. He sent to me on 13th February of this year a letter that is a disgrace to him and the Department that he runs. The Returned Services League and other ex-service organisations, particularly the Incapacitated Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Association want a repatriation officer in Townsville. The Repatriation Department has a system whereby an officer visits Townsville every so often. Recently, some problems arose that were associated with local floods. The repatriation officer visited Townsville but did not see one-third of the people who wished to see him. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) wrote in these terms:

I refer again to your personal representations of 8th January, on behalf of the Incapacitated Sailors’ Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Association, requesting that a Repatriation Officer be appointed on a full-time basis in Townsville.

This is a matter which was forwarded on behalf of the Association for my consideration in 1966. As my reply covered at length the principles involved and existing arrangements, and as these remain valid at this time, I enclose a copy for your information.

It is true that earlier representations were made in 1966 by the former member for Herbert, Mr E. W. Harding. The Minister in his reply of 13th February 1968 went on to quote figures in support of his contention that no change in the existing service is warranted. He sent me a copy of a letter to Mr Harding dated 22nd March 1966. That letter shows a complete and utter contempt for the need of a permanent repatriaation officer in Townsville. I know that there are only two other provincial repatriation officers in the Commonwealth but the city of Townsville is a long way to the north, some 1,000 miles away from Brisbane, and caters for an area extending to Mount Isa in the central west. People from this vast area come to Townsville. The Minister for Repatriation, as in all other things associated with his Department, has treated this matter with contempt; he has no intention of doing anything about it. I believe the Government ought to investigate the organisation and the background of the Australian Services Canteen Trust Fund, which was built up by the extortionate profits made from ex-servicemen while they were on service in this country and other countries. An applicant must, before getting assistance from the Fund, show that the family income does not exceed $900 a year. This is a shocking state of affairs. There is enough money in this swollen fund to help many more people. This and many other matters warrant close examination.

As my time is about to expire I shall not be able to deal with a number of other matters that I should like to raise. If this Government adopts a new look, gets the new broom to work, and gets down in a hurry to the legislative programme in this autumn session so that everything will be in readiness for the Budget session, at the very least we might be able to expect that something will be done for under privileged people. We might even expect Commonwealth grants for development of the northern part of Australia. The Government might endeavour to implement the terms of our policy by bringing an end to the terrible war in the region of South Vietnam. I ask the Government to consider seriously the issues I have raised, and not to treat them as a joke in the future.


– In rising to take part in this debate I affirm my loyalty to the Crown and express complete agreement with the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I take the opportunity to join other honourable senators in congratulating the mover of the motion, Senator Laucke. It is apparent that he will raise the standard of debate in this chamber, giving greater strength to the team on this side. My colleagues and I wish him a long period of service in this new sphere of service for him. Senator Laucke said that among the greatest problems facing his home State of South Australia were the Chowilla Dam and current problems associated with it. 1 should have thought that perhaps a more pressing and serious problem facing South Australia was the finding of a Government for itself. We appreciate also the speech of the seconder of the motion, Senator Lawrie, who proved beyond doubt the ability of the coalition in this new Parliament.

In this debate we have a freedom of choice of subjects which was freely availed of by the previous speaker, Senator Keeffe. If it is true to say that the average Australian talks first of all through his pocket, I should say that Senator Keeffe in the early part of his speech sounded more like a brokenhearted or disappointed shareholder than President of the Australian Labor Party. He regretted the absence of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) from the chamber when he was making his speech. I have no such regrets. However, if he wants to start regretting the absence of members from this chamber, T must say that I regret the absence from the chamber at this time of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) in the Senate.

Earlier in the debate the attention of honourable senators was directed to the great problems confronting this nation following the announcement of the future withdrawal of United Kingdom defence forces east of Suez. I am not prepared to say that I agree with all the opinions expressed in a lengthy speech by Senator Cormack, but I hope our advisers on defence and external affairs will study his speech, which raised facets of this problem which are of grave concern to our country and will have more serious repercussions between now and 1975. I did not know that Senator Cormack would follow this line of debate; I had made my own choice. I fiind it not inappropriate to say that the Senate might well focus its attention on another problem which in my view we in Australia must face. We in Australia, and people in other Commonwealth countries and in other Asian and Pacific countries, must face problems arising from the possible entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. I believe we have wasted 6 years that were available to us to prepare for what I feel to be inevitable and necessary for the good of the world - the entry of Britain into the European Economic Community. I cannot be blamed for the fact that we as a nation have wasted this time. I refer honourable senators to Hansard of 14th August 1962 at page 170. When the Senate was then discussing the Common Market I said:

I begin by saying - it may prove a wrong prophecy, but it is my own opinion - that the United Kingdom will not in the foreseeable future enter the Common Market. I say that the calamityhowlers, the prophets who say that great harm will be done to Australia and the Commonwealth countries if Britain should enter the Common Market, should be discouraged.

I expressed the view then, and I repeat it now with more confidence and fervour, that Great Britain must and will enter the Common Market. I believe the time is ripe for the Australian Government to announce that it believes this to be true and, through its Department of Trade and Industry and other arms of Government, to prepare to counter the serious effects that will be felt by this nation and many of our allies and friends when the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market is complete. I am confident that this will not happen for another 4 to 6 years. I believe, however, that we must realise that we shall have to overcome the problems facing us. It is of no use saying that if Britain enters the Common Market it will do so under terms and conditions that will not hurt the Commonwealth countries. I believe Britain’s economic plight is such that in negotiating for entry into the Common Market she will of necessity have scant regard for the welfare of her Commonwealth partners.

At the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Uganda in November this subject of Britain’s entry into the Common Market was debated for li days by parliamentarians who represented 64 Parliaments of the Commonwealth of Nations. As we all know, at these conferences we speak not with instructions from governments but from our own minds. Summarising the debate in which I took part, I would say that very divided opinions emerged from it. The developing countries always take the attitude of saying to Britain: You cannot go into the Common Market and hurt us. You are selfish if you do. It cannot by done by you.’ The Canadian and New Zealand delegates and I, speaking as an individual, look the attitude that it was essential that we should start to consider how we are to overcome the problems that will beset us.

I know that I am arguing against strong, better known advocates. I believe that the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, is still of the opinion that Britain should not enter the Common Market because of the harm which he says it will do to the Commonwealth of Nations. It has been placed on record more than once that our High Commissioner in London, Sir Alexander Downer, takes exactly the same view. I believe that Mr Heath, if he is still Leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, has somewhat similar views. However, I do not believe these views to be correct. I think that the Australian Government has to face the fact that the United Kingdom will enter the Common Market. It has to come out into the open and say what it really feels in this matter.

One fact which emerged from the debate in Uganda was that if Britain is to enter the Common Market it should in fairness to its Commonwealth partners say so now or say when it intends to do so. I am of the opinion, which is fairly widely held, that a period statement concerning the time when it is intended to enter would be of great assistance to those countries which would be hit and whose trading patterns would have to be altered. The prophets of gloom spoke about the great losses that their countries would suffer. But I believe that they have to grin and bear it and that the sooner they start preparing for it the less harm will befall their economies.

Senator Prowse:

– Did anybody say how Great Britain intended to enter the Common Market?


– I am coming to that now but first of all 1 want to state briefly why I believe Britain will and must enter the European Economic Community. I believe that Europeans, except for de Gaulle in France, want the United Kingdom in the Community. I believe that once the United Kingdom is accepted into the Community other rich countries which are not now in the Community will be willing to join it. If that be so we will have a strong, solidified and united Europe. I believe that such are the economic difficulties of the United Kingdom that when she does enter the Common Market some of her Common Market partners will have to make sacrifices in order to bring Britain up to the level necessary for her to be an equal and strong participant in the Community. If this happens we will have an economically strong and unified Europe, and Great Britain with all its brains, power and tradition, will be ready to resume a leading role in world affairs. That can only give strength to Europe. If we have that strength in Europe which has been the scene of two world wars, surely we can picture Europe as the bulwark for peace in that part of the world from which Great Britain is being forced to withdraw as a result of circumstances in a changing world. A Europe which is unified in trade can only prosper.

Now I want to look at the other side of the world. We have to realise that Australia is not an outpost or colony; it is a pivot in our part of the world from which leadership and strength have to go out to those countries to our east, north and west. The sooner we realise the necessity for Australian leadership to emerge in the councils of the world the sooner will we develop some strength of policy and be of greater assistance. We will go on fulfilling what I believe is our destiny. So if we look at Australia as the pivot we must then look at the thirty-odd countries in Africa, at India, South East Asia, the Pacific countries, Canada and New Zealand as being in a partnership with us in what I envisage as a new community of trading interests. At the CPA conference the delegate who led the Canadian delegation said he was confident that if Canada knew when the United Kingdom intended to enter the Common Market the Canadian Government would be ready to take more of a lead in affairs in this part of the world. As one who has watched

Canadian politics I regret to say that up to now Canada, our sister country, has not given any great lead in international politics. But the Canadian delegate told us it was his firm belief that Canada would be prepared to come out and advance ideas with a view to giving strength and a lead to the new trading patterns that would follow if and when Britain enters the Common Market.

Now I want to refer briefly again to the situation in Great Britain. I believe that the Prime Minister of Great Britain knows that while de Gaulle holds presidential power in France Great Britain will not enter the Common Market. But I believe that Great Britain has the strength and the necessary friends to enable the Prime Minister to tell the public what he knows to be true. He could say: ‘We know we will not be allowed to enter the Common Market yet. Therefore we will put a date before which we will not enter and a date on which we believe we will be able to enter.’ In my opinion, that would be the notice of intent by Britain to enter the Common Market for which the world is looking. If Great Britain sets a date before which it would not enter the Common Market - say 1972 or 1974 - the chips would be down and the fears and uncertainties that now exist in Commonwealth countries would begin to crystallise, enabling governments to produce ideas to solve the problems confronting them.

The facts are clear. Just as our horizons of defence have altered, so are we in a period in which our horizons of trade must alter to enable us to enjoy economic strength and growth and fulfil our destiny. If that dream comes true we will have a united area in this part of the world, just as I picture a united Europe. There will be another strong bulwark for peace in the world.

Senator Wheeldon:

– With the same migration policies?


– In the limited time at my disposal I will not deal with specific items of policy. I base my views on the wider basis of responsibility combined with possibility. There is no denying that in the area outside Great Britain and Europe millions of people need to be fed. There are literally millions of impoverished, hunger stricken people in our part of the world, but there is a great potential for commencing and developing large industries, and the prospect of an interchange of goods, materials, brain power and development funds to replace the trade in which we would normally engage with the United Kingdom. Friendships can be fostered. We in Australia can take some pride in the fact that in the councils of the world we are recognised as the friends of many people, as a nation which will keep its word and stick by pacts and agreements into which it enters. Therefore it behoves us to get out in front, announce our views and state where we stand.

Sir Robert Menzies and Sir Alexander Downer said at a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference that if Great Britain enters the Common Market the Commonwealth of Nations will break up. I do not believe that to be true. The Commonwealth of Nations may change in character and increase in numbers but it should, and must, go from strength to strength. Although we may lose the help, the shield and the screen of British forces in this part of the world and although our pattern of trade with the United Kingdom must change, I do not believe that we will lose the friendship of the United Kingdom or sever our relationship with her.

When legislation comes before the Senate I will have another opportunity to state my views on the Government’s proposals. At this stage I express my pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.

New South Wales

– I join with other honourable senators in commending Senator Laucke, our new colleague from South Australia, for the submissions he put before us. I am sure that on future occasions we will welcome ‘ his participation in debates.

The Governor-General, in his Speech, referred to the continuing conflict in South Vietnam. When I heard that Speech and Senator Bull’s statements concerning the problems confronting the rural sector, I could not but relate them to our expenditure in Vietnam. This year the war will cost us $45m whereas last year it cost us $37m. We claim that we have no territorial ambitions and that we are trying to create a new society but all we seem to be doing in Vietnam is perpetuating the mistakes of the best brains in the world. I need go back no further than the famous Honolulu conference attended by President Johnson and representatives of America’s allies in the Vietnam conflict. Everyone agreed that the time was ripe for the new broom to create a new society. We believe that to be the only way to give the people any confidence in the future.

If ever there was a classic illustration of the allies going in reverse it is to be found in the American publication ‘The New Leader’ of 20th November 1967 which carried a report of a statement by Senator Edward Kennedy wherein he pointed out that early in 1965 some 200,000 refugees - mainly refugees from Vietcong terror - were counted in South Vietnam. Today there are 2,000,000 refugees in South Vietnam. I do not know who is winning the war but I think we are being defeated in the field of politics because the number of refugees flowing into South Vietnam is growing rapidly.

What is the natural corollary of the growing number of refugees? According to Newsweek’ of 8th January 1968 the people of Ben The used to grow rice and run cattle and pigs, Today they are themselves confined to compounds. They are being fed and clothed but mentally they are in a strait jacket. It is obvious that although Australia alone is spending $45m a year in Vietnam the hamlet programme has failed and we seem to be powerless to do anything about it. People who may be opposed to Fascism or Communism may say that there is a middle course. It is obvious, from the way things are going, that there is no middle course.

Following counter attacks by the Vietcong in areas deemed to be under the control of General Westmoreland, the army has been used to distribute rice to the population and to try to sort out the confusion in the cities. That was the only way in which a stop could be put to racketeering in food and to the price spiral. This corrupt society is mentioned in an article by Senator Robert Kennedy in the American magazine ‘Look’ in which he said:

Instead of land reform, long universally regarded as an essential first step, the peasants are saddled with absentee landlordism. Instead of a Government responsible to the needs and aspirations of the people there is corruption and cronyism.

These familiar observations have been made for a long time. The most significant point about the quotations I have made is that none of them is from the leftist Press. I do not think it could be said fairly that Look’ is dominated by left wing theories. By Australian standards even The New Leader’ is reasonable. I refer now to an extract from a news bulletin of the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 13th January 1968. The bulletin included a report by Tony Ferguson, the ABC’s reporter in Saigon. Amongst other things, he said:

Meanwhile in Saigon both American and Vietnamese officials are openly concerned at the slow rate of progress being made by the Thieu Government. Promises which General Thieu made at the elections - to wipe out corruption, initiate land reforms and reorganise the armed forces and Civil Service - are all unfulfilled.

Those are the words of an Australian observer with no strong political views. It might be asked: ‘What can the Australian Government do?’ I have said before that Mr Hasluck should visit Saigon and point out to the present South Vietnamese Government that if the tempo of economic reform is not increased Australia will have seriously to consider whether even our present holding action is justified. I am satisfied that in South Vietnam there are people profiting by excessive ‘landlordism’ and corrupt merchants who, if forced to choose between giving up their ill gotten gains or accepting the Vietcong, would choose the Vietcong. If that is the way they want it 1 am sure that the Australian taxpayers will not want to see our present annual expenditure in Vietnam of $45m escalated to about $90m.

On the other side of the coin Australian Country Party senators including Senator Bull are justifiably concerned about serious drought effects. It will cost many millions of dollars to restore the balance of nature. That end cannot be achieved by putting money into Vietnam and getting nothing for it. On the one hand we say that the United States of America is our number one ally. At this stage I do not quarrel with that. However, on that aspect I wish to refer to articles which have appeared in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’, a newspaper which is reasonably disposed to the present Government. It has been stated in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that the United States Senate Foreign Aid Expenditure Sub-Committee has produced serious indictments of court officials who keep people locked up for months on technical and trumped-up charges involving police chiefs and other persons. It seems that the United States Senate has been able to get reports from people who have gone to Vietnam and have examined the situation there. Those reports are the foundation of what has been said by Senator Robert Kennedy and his brother. 1 know enough about our Department of External Affairs to believe that it includes officers of a very high standard, but it seems to me that we are being a little namby-pamby. I do not know whether despatches have come to Mr Hasluck similar to the reports given to the United States Senate or whether we have received reports about the obvious corruption in South Vietnam. Obviously there is tension in the Australian Cabinet about the proposed inquiry on the subject dealt with by Senator Cavanagh. Mr Galbraith, a very distinguished American, served as Ambassador to India. He is an outstanding economist. Referring to the need for the United States to revise: its thinking on Vietnam he said:

Of course, military men always describe as impossible what they do not want to do . . . it is for issues such as this that we lodge ultimate power in civilian hands.

There is nothing new in that statement. President Truman had to deal with General MacArthur when he exceeded the policy of the then United States Government. General MacArthur’s successor in Korea, General Matthew Wridgway, has written that he accepted the United States’ policy unreservedly. It seems that President Johnson is reluctant to down-grade General Westmoreland. 1 do not know what is the attitude of the Australian Army. A few weeks ago one or two Australian Army spokesmen offered some strong criticism about the gatherings of the Vietcong and said that we had been ‘conned’ by the villagers. They said that it was necessary for us to get tougher. I do not know whether we had been ‘conned’, but we cannot have it both ways. I think it is clear that the pacification plan failed in the sector where Australian troops are being used. Mr Fraser, the previous Minister for the Army, said that he would have a look at the situation. I read a guarded report that the matter had been somewhat exaggerated but I cannot help but feel after reading the Governor-General’s Speech that we are perpetuating mistakes that we have been making for a long time. Ultimatums could be issued about the gross corruption which exists in South Vietnam. The section of the Governor-General’s Speech which deals with Singapore and Malaysia contains a different note of optimism. It is obvious that the Government holds the view - and I do too - that there are better prospects there.

My colleague Senator Cavanagh is a recognised authority on housing. He will agree that in order to create a better society in Singapore better housing is needed. There have been civil disorders there and Lee Kuan Yew has built vast flats to improve housing conditions. It is one thing to talk about the Vietnam suicide squad, but it is clear that the hamlet projects have failed. If escalation is to continue and there are to be between 2 million and 3 million refugees, what does it mean to those people? What do they have in life when they are placed into compounds? It is comparable to the situation in displaced persons’ camps in Europe. Many honourable senators have visited Austria in recent years and have seen there people with physical and mental ailments of which they will never be relieved. They have a completely dispirited attitude. It is not hard to visualise a similar situation in Vietnam.

We are agreed on the need for a new democratic society, but where does it start? It is not of much use sending 100,000 troops to the outer northern perimeters of South Vietnam while down on the coastline there are refugee camps containing 2 million or 3 million people. It will not work. The cracks are being papered over. We are told that it will be all right. Mr Gorton, the new Prime Minister, certainly appeared to be somewhat cagey about the escalation of our involvement in South Vietnam. Mr Nixon, aspirant for the Presidency of the United States, is saying that he will get peace at any price. If I were an American I would welcome peace in Vietnam but I would be a little apprehensive of what he would do about the internal policy involving medicare’, civil rights and other such matters. I think we can scale down our Vietnam expenditure of $45m a year. Unless that is done it is obvious that our other problems will be compounded.

The Governor-General referred to the duties of the Department of National Development. Nothing has happened about the national fire-fighting force of which we have spoken. In another part of his Speech the Governor-General said that a lot of marginal and sub-marginal dairy farms will be bought out and the land placed under forest. Senator Cotton and other honourable senators are interested in that field. It is a laudable project, but a ‘mod’ approach is being made to the serious problems of untrammelled nature. I refer particularly to bush fires. Last August Senator O’Byrne and myself attended a conference at which many experts were unanimous that with modern, appliances and a supplementary force to assist the State authorities we would overcome many difficulties associated with fire fighting. In November last we were told that the Commonwealth Government was endeavouring to import a couple of light aircraft for fire fighting. Several improved types of helicopter could also be used to deploy men to fight bush fires.

Senator Bull knows, as well as I do, that considerable damage was done by fire in the Warrumbungle National Park. It was obvious that the State authorities were completely inadequate to deal with the situation. As a matter of fact at the conference in Victoria in August the people representing the bushfire fighting services of Victoria, although . competent, were somewhat unrealistic. One officer expressed the opinion that with all the equipment he had he could cope with any bushtfire. Of course, nature proved the master, to the detriment of Victoria’s economy, and the State did not get much assistance from the Commonwealth Government at that time. I am not quarreling about the millions of dollars that the Commonwealth provides after a disaster. This is a question of exercising common sense and of being able to combat an outbreak and to limit its ambit. No-one would be so stupid as to say that a bushfire could be stopped in its tracks, but in this era of chemical bombing and with so many other modern fire fighting facilities such as those used in Canada and the United States of America, we should be able to improve our fire prevention capacity. After all, if ever there were an illustration of the need for this it was the disaster which befell Tasmania last year. Treasury papers indicate that money is still being provided to Tasmania, but I suggest that the expenditure of onequarter of the amount so far provided could have enabled the provision of effective fire fighting equipment and facilities.

According to the Governor-General’s Speech mineral exports are expected to total $485m in 1967-68. This is a reasonable sum but I am of the opinion that we could ask for more by way of royalties from the big mining companies without frightening them away. I am sure that if our delegates to the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Peru later this year question South American parliamentarians they will be surprised to discover the amount of royalty demanded of British and American mining companies in South America. The South American countries show acute nationalism and, despite internal disruptions, drive hard bargains in respect of mineral royalties. This does not frighten business away. I have regaled the Senate frequently on the situation in Bolivia, which is a fertile area for tin mining. Bolivia has had about eleven revolutions in some 12 years with numerous changes of government and pitched battles between mining unions and the Army, but this has not unduly affected mineral production and the British and American investors are still pouring money into Bolivia which is securing bigger returns than we would ever dare contemplate. The Government’s timidity in respect of overseas investment is absurd. Honourable senators are familiar with collective bargaining. Unfortunately the attitude in Australia has been for mining companies to say: ‘If the Government will build a railway line we shall do this or that’. Recently, a Japanese industrialist complained about miners in central Queensland. He should look at South America and the industrial turmoil that exists there without affecting foreign investment. Industrial unrest will not affect investment in Australia. Although $485m is expected to be earned from mineral exports, I should like to examine the royalties we are getting because I believe that they could be escalated considerably.

In His Excellency’s Speech, reference is made to water conservation. I have read extensive reports by Mr Beale, the Minister for Conservation in the New South Wales Government. Five members of the Askin Cabinet have been travelling throughout New South Wales, but this does not alter the fact that when the Askin Government had the ball at its feet and could have given the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority work to do, there was a lack of enterprise in securing the services of the staff of the Authority, and I am not referring only to top level staff. I have made representations to the Canadian High Commissioner on behalf of miners and others who have sought work in Canada. Other workers have transferred to South America. These workmen have gone to other countries where big projects are being undertaken and where high wages are paid. The workman says: T am 28 years of age. I shall work at this game until I am 40 and then I shall give it away and settle for a less remunerative occupation.’ The transfer overseas of such workmen has been a drain on our work force. No matter what is said about overlapping or overplanning, all the planning in the Australian Capital Territory by the top brains of the country has been of little benefit and Canberra is in dire straits with its water supply. I would sooner that we had overplanning, than that the fruit should wither on the vine.

It is amazing how often the Government grudgingly adopts suggestions made by the Australian Labor Parly. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech we are told that there is to be a review of the operations of the hospital and medical benefit schemes operated under the National Health Act. I remember when the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, criticised these schemes. Dr Forbes and others said that it was a terrible thing to criticise such schemes and that Australia had a wonderful national health scheme. Sir Earle Page, the father of the scheme, went on to the hustings in 1953 and said that our scheme would be modelled on the United States Blue Cross system and that a contributor would get back 90% of the cost of hospital and medical services. If a person gets back 65% he is lucky, because, with all the medical mumbo jumbo that is spoken, he often does not get his proper entitlement. I know of instances in which it has been suggested that appendicitis has been related to a hernia or some other disability, thus limiting the benefit payable to the contributor to a fund. Incidentally, a person must be a subscriber to a fund to qualify for Commonwealth benefit. If a person does not join a fund, he has little hope of securing medical cover.

I am interested to know who will examine the operations of the hospital and medical benefit schemes. If an accountant whose firm has done the actuarial work for a medical benefit fund is appointed to the inquiry committee, he may be inclined to lean in one direction. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Murphy, has spoken forcibly about appointing a Senate committee to examine this subject. Seemingly, the Government prefers another form of inquiry. I would suggest that to the body conducting that inquiry be appointed not only representatives of women’s organisations like the Country Women’s Association but also representatives of trade unions and organisations like the graziers associations. The trade union movement, through the Australian Council of Trade Unions, should have one representative on this committee. After all, the ACTU represents a considerable segment of the community - a segment which has been more or less fed up to the teeth with the inadequacy of our national health scheme. I go further and hope that when the committee’s findings are released they will completely vindicate the systematic criticism voiced by the Labor Party concerning hospital and medical benefits. I hope that there will be no abnormal delay in the introduction of legislation to ensure that hospital and medical benefit funds do not amass tremendous and unnecessary reserves such as they have hoarded in recent years.

Debate interrupted.

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Defence Land Holdings - Deaths of Former Senators

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Han. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:

That the Senate do now adjourn.

New South Wales

– I do not want to delay the Senate unduly but 1 want to refer to submissions that I made in the Senate towards the end of last year relating to the lack of policy exhibited by the Government in respect of redundant defence land which is to be returned to the States. Honourable senators will be aware that on that occasion I referred to certain defence land on the Sydney Harbour foreshores. For over 4 years there have been at least 32 acres in the George’s Heights region adjacent to

Sydney Harbour that the Army has been prepared to release but in respect of which the Department of the Interior, through its real estate branch, has adopted an attitude rather reminiscent of Shylock. In fairness to Mr Nixon, the Minister for the Interior, I must say that he did arrange for me to make an inspection of the land in question on 19th January in company with Colonel Deegan of Eastern Command and Mr Smith and Mr McKay of the Department of the Interior. On that occasion, I took advantage of the opportunity to make a thorough inspection. But here I should like to pay tribute to the former Minister for the Navy, Mr Chipp, for, although I have not achieved much by way of land release, at least I did get some co-operation from Mr Chipp in that he did have the fuel tanks on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour painted green instead of silver so that they would blend in more with the surrounding bushland. I might add that he was the first Minister from New South Wales holding a Service portfolio to give us some assistance. Now that he is no longer occupying the Navy portfolio I am somewhat apprehensive about the future.

During the course of the inspection with Col Deegan, that officer told me that the 32 acres in question would probably be the only land to be released because the rest of the land held by the Commonwealth on Sydney Harbour foreshores would be needed for some considerable time to come. This land is adjacent to the Clifton Gardens recreation area and I might point out that in correspondence with me Alderman Parkinson, the Mayor of Mosman, showed himself to be just as concerned as I am at the abnormal delay in reaching finality on this matter.

Let me be quite frank. I want to make it crystal clear that it is my firm belief that the Commonwealth and State Governments are only the custodians of the people’s land. The land to which I refer was acquired in 1900 for defence purposes. It is now unwanted for those purposes. At the time of its acquisition no cash passed hands. All I ask is that the land be returned by the Commonwealth Government to the New South Wales Government with a minimum of delay and that it be a provision of its return that the land remain permanently open land. I shall be quite satisfied if the New South Wales Government makes an agreement with the local authority concerned to this effect. But at present that is not visualised.

In correspondence with Mr Lewis, Minister for Lands in New South Wales, reference is made to Land Valuation Court proceedings and a host of other formalities, but my remarks are aimed mainly at what I consider to be the Shylock attitude adopted by the Commonwealth Government through the Department of the Interior. I point out that Alderman Parkinson of the Mosman Council and the New South Wales Branch of the National Trust of Australia are also very concerned about, this matter.

The principle of the return of lands to the States does not rest solely with this land in New South Wales. Following the tragic death of the late Prime Minister Holt, Mr J. W. Manson, Minister for State Development in Victoria, stated that Sir Henry Bolte wanted 1,300 acres of the land at Cheviot Beach from which Mr Holt disappeared reserved as a national park. In my view that is a sound proposal. The 1,300 acres in question was used originally as the site of a quarantine station. Later it was used for cadet corps operations. Recently Mr Graham Pizzey, a well known nationalist, has pointed out the potentialities of the area as a national park. There are some very fine beaches in the area and it should be preserved for the sole use of the people.

Sir Henry Bolte has stated that the land should be given to the Victorian Government. No question of costs is mentioned. I go all the way with him or anybody else with that proposition. It is the people’s land and the Commonwealth Government should not make a profit at the expense of State Governments in these internal transactions.

With external transactions, it is a different matter. In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States for $US7,000m. One would not expect Russia and the United States to negotiate other than by way of strictly cash transactions, but the return of internal lands is a horse of another colour.

I have dealt with New South Wales and Victoria. The principle arises in still another State. The official journal of the Plasterers Union of Western Australia points out that the Western Australian branch of that union has taken up with the Trades and Labour Council the question of having Western Australia’s Garden Island preserved as a rest and relaxation centre for the Western Australian people. It is understood that at one time the Commonwealth Government was thinking of using this area as a naval base in connection with Cockburn Sound, but it is not so keen about that proposition today. Now a major union in Western Australia is seeking a clear cut statement from both the Commonwealth Government and the Brand Government of Western Australia as to what is to happend to this island.

The point I emphasise is that there is a universal feeling that the Commonwealth Government should adopt a different attitude in connection with these matters. I have often heard honourable senators on both sides of the chamber arguing that the Federal system is a partnership. They say that the Senate is a State House, that we are here to ventilate the grievances of the States. I would be very pleased to know what Victorian senators, irrespective of their Party affiliations, think of the proposal for the memorial park as visualised by Sir Henry Bolte. To be consistent, the Commonwealth should hand back the 1,300 acres in question to the Victorian Government and the New South Wales Government should be given back the 32 acres to which I have referred at George’s Heights.

Let me return to the question of the Federal system. To support my argument. 1 refer to a news release issued by the United States Department of the Interior dated 27th December 1962. In that release, reference is made to 400,000 acres of land in Southern Nevada. This land was at one time a practice range for the Air Force Strategic Bombing Command at Nellis. It is now declared redundant for that purpose. The United States Government in Washington has given the 400,000 acres back to the State of Nevada. Part of it will be used as parkland and the rest will be kept as free range for the last of the wild horses in that State. There we see a federal government - I emphasise ‘federal’ - giving 400,000 acres of land to a State. Yet here we have the limited outlook displayed by the Department of the Interior, the modern edition of Shylock. Here, the Commonwealth Government wants to deprive the States of their land. And we talk about the open spaces of Australia.

Col Deegan and the departmental officers were quite friendly to me, but I knew that I would be putting their heads on the block, so to speak, if I asked them for a direct’ answer. Therefore, I did not ask. I have referred to what has been done in the United States. This Government is all the time talking about going all the way with LBJ. Here is an opportunity to follow the internal policy adopted in the United States and do something worth while.

A former New South Wales Minister for Lands, Mr Nihls Nielsen, advocated as far back as 1912 that all the land on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour for 3 miles inland should be left in its virgin state. He was scoffed at by the people of those days, and reference to the scheme is made in a book written by a former Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the late Dr Evatt. Mr Nielsen’s proposal was rejected with the result that today there is not much open land left around Sydney Harbour.

I make no attack here on Senator Anderson, who is not in the chamber at the moment but he will admit that he and I had some strong arguments about the building of the new Customs House on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour and about the submarine base in the harbour. Although Senator McKellar is not now the responsible Minister, 1 did tell him in the corridors of Parliament House today that I intended to tell the Senate that at 11.58 p.m. on 1st November 1967, he said:

I assure the honourable senator that there has been no procrastination. The transfer of this land from the Commonwealth to the State involves an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. I should think that the honourable senator would know that deals of this kind are not very often negotiated quickly.

That was in November of last year. It is now March 1968. I repeat that here the Government is not dealing with enemy aliens. These transactions are with the New South Wales Government, the Victorian Government and the Western Australian Government. I suggest that it would epitomise the best features of the Federal system under which we live if the Commonwealth made this simple transfer of land back to the States. It was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1900 and not one penny was paid for it. Senator Henty has been talking about sponsoring moves in connection with air pollution. One way to combat air pollution is the provision of more open spaces. Tonight 1 reiterate the plea that I have been making since 1966. This matter has been building up in the other States and I again appeal to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior and assure him that I am receiving more and more letters on this question. It would certainly be a practical demonstration of the effectiveness of the Federal system if the Commonwealth Government were to cease this Shylockism have a man-to-man negotiation and hand the land back gratis, as is wished by all the State Governments concerned.

Senator SCOTT:
Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise · LP

– We have listened with much interest to the honourable senator. He has paid a great deal of attention to this area of some 32 acres on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour known as George’s Heights, and over a considerable period he has raised this matter in the Senate and by correspondence with the Minister for the Interior. The negotiations that have been going on between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales, for reasons known to both parties have been rather protracted. They are still in train and I regret that I cannot give the honourable senator any forecast of when the matter will be completed.

South Australia

– Motions of condolence were moved yesterday concerning the death of two members of the Parliament. Though it is not the practice of the Senate for such a motion to be moved on the death of a former member of the Senate, it would have been fitting if some reference had been made to the death of Mr Sidney Wainman O’Flaherty- who served in this Senate on behalf of the Labor. Party for a total of 18 years. To repair the omission I take advantage of the adjournment debate to put on record that on 18 th November 1967 Sidney Wainman O’Flaherty passed away after a lengthy illness, though up to a few days before he died he was able to get about and to take some part in community activities.

Ex-Senator O’Flaherty was a member of the House of Assembly in South Australia, having been elected in the general election in 1918 at a time when the South Australian Parliament had three member districts arid three Labor men were elected for that district. The late Senator O’Flaherty, after his defeat in the State elections in 1921, continued his activities in the Australian Labor Party and was possibly one of its most ardent supporters and hardest workers. I knew him in the 1930s when he was a member of the Unemployed Association of Adelaide. I knew that he battled on the land. Although a carpenter by trade, he had done gold fossicking to gain some income for his wife and quite large family. Riding his bicycle from area to area he enrolled large numbers of members in what is now the Miscellaneous Workers Union of South Australia, which is affiliated with the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union. He did this during the depression. Small groups of workers had not been covered by a union and some were reluctant to join, not appreciating the benefits of trade unionism. Consequently, it was sometimes a battle to achieve their union membership. The late senator’s active and forceful advocacy in the industrial tribunals enabled him to establish something for these workers and to get from them a ready response and recognition of the benefits of trade unions. He initiated the establishment in South Australia of a union which would be among the biggest and more powerful unions in this country today.

From the position of Secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers Union Senator O’Flaherty was elected to the Senate at. a general election in 1943, and he took his seat here on 1st July 1944. He was reelected to this chamber in 1949, 1951 and 1955. He served as a member of the House Committee of the Parliament from 6th February 1956, and as Opposition Whip in the Senate from September 1957 until 19th February 1962. At a general caucus meeting on that day in a re-election of officers after a general election he did not stand again for the position. He resigned from the Senate in June 1962. More precisely, he never stood for re-election, and in the election in 1961 Senator Bishop and I, together with Senator Nicholls, were elected to the Senate. Senator Bishop and I were the two new senators in place of the two retiring senators from our State at that time. Senator O’Flaherty did not contest the position. Obviously, either Senator Bishop or I took the place vacated by him.

All who new ex-Senator O’Flaherty highly admired his sincerity, forcefulness and determination in a cause that he thought was right. His community service was noteworthy. His membership of the Labor Party continued after his retirement from the Senate until his death. After his retirement he was living at Christy’s Beach, a developing area 24 miles from Adelaide. As a Justice of the Peace, almost to the day of his death he took an active part in the sittings of the local bench dispensing justice. His death isa loss to the Labor Party and to his family, though I suppose that at the age of 82 years it was to be expected and possibly saved further suffering. I believe that 1 should place on record our appreciation of the service of ex-Senator O’Flaherty. We extend our deepest sympathy to his widow and family who survive him.

Senator McKELLAR:
Minister for Repatriation · New South Wales · CP

– I assure the honourable senator that the death of ex-Senator O’Flaherty was not overlooked and that it was intended to make reference to it during the adjournment debate this evening. I join with Senator Cavanagh in expressing the sympathy of all members of the Government to the late ex-senator’s family. Most of us on this side remember him well because we sat with him. We join with Senator Cavanagh in his expressions of sympathy and condolence.

It is my sad duty tonight to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that one of our former colleagues, ex-Senator Agnes Robertson, died at Perth during the parliamentary recess. Senator Robertson was a member of the Australian Country Party. She was well known to many honourable senators. She had a fine record of public service in Australia, particularly in her home State of Western Australia. She was elected to the Senate for that State at general elections in 1949, 1951 and 1955. She was a member of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications from 23rd February 1950, a member of the Library Committee from 2nd March 1950 and a member of the Printing Committee from 16th February 1956. In 1956 she was a member of the delegation that represented the Commonwealth Parliament at the Norfolk Island centenary celebrations. She was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs from 25th October 1956. She retired from the Senate on 30th June 1962.

I had a brief association in this chamber with our late colleague, who served the nation with an untiring will and a determination to improve the lot of the less endowed sections of the community -aged persons and others in need. She was always ready to fight injustice and to resist it in the doughty tradition of her Scottish ancestry. Those of us who served with her will remember the long hours for which she attended in this chamber. I remember a marathon sitting of the Senate during which she was one who steadfastly refused to leave the chamber in order to take some rest. She was a kindly and tolerant soul. In the years that she served the people in the Senate she was in the forefront of all debates that concerned the all-important question of social justice. I will leave it to my colleague, Senator Drake-Brockman, to make reference to her other attributes. I know that I speak for all honourable senators, but particularly for my Country Party colleagues, when I express the deepest sympathy to her bereaved family.

Western Australia

– I support the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate (Senator McKellar) and associate myself and my Country Party colleague from Western Australia, Senator Prowse, with the sentiments expressed by our leader with reference to our late esteemed colleague, Agnes Robertson. Her interests and activities, some of which have been mentioned already by our Leader, were many and varied. But the keynote in everything that she did was service to others, particularly those in less fortunate circumstances, such as the needy, the elderly and new arrivals in the country. She was a champion of the emancipation of women. She was a strong advocate of women taking their rightful place in the home and in civic affairs. A true lover of justice, she sought it for all. She was always concerned when she found that injustice had broughtmisery unnecessarily.

Widowed early in her married life and left with a young family of three - the youngest being a few months old - Agnes Robertson went back to her profession of teaching. Her courage and industry at that time were at once a challenge and an inspiration to any woman who had the great misfortune to find herself placed in similar circumstances. In her profession Agnes Robertson always looked upon herself as an educator rather than a teacher. She instilled into many children the whole concept of true citizenship, responsibility to others and participation to the full in civic affairs. Many people in Western Australia recall her periods of reading the classis to her students on Friday afternoons,which encouraged them to pursue further the riches that she knew they should share. The work that was dearest to her heart was that of the Silver Chain Nursing Association, in which at the time of her death she was serving her sixty-second year. Like many others, I will be ever grateful to her for her kindness and assistance to me in the early days of my parliamentary career. Her dignity, her industry and her loyalty to her Government, together with her record of service, will be remembered with gratitude and, I am sure, will be an inspiration to those women who in the future are chosen by the people as their elected representatives. 1 join in extending to the members of her family our deepest sympathy.

Senator WHEELDON (Western Australia [11.24] - As a member of the Australian Labor Party from the State of Western Australia which the late Senator Robertson represented, I feel it incumbent upon me to say a few words on this occasion. Senator Robertson retired from the Senate before I became a senator, but I had met her and I knew her personally. As Senator Drake-Brockman mentioned, she had a very difficult and hard life in many respects. She was widowed at an early age and had many problems in rearing a family of three children while she was working. As a school teacher, she was well known to many people in Western Australia. She was well known for the many public activities in which she was involved and in which she continued to be involved after her retirement from the Senate despite the fact that by that time she had reached quite a considerable age. I believe that she was highly respected by people from all parties and in many walks of life in Western Australia. I am sure that members of the Australian Labor Party, particularly those who come from Western Australia would like the relatives of thelate Senator Robertson to be assured of their condolences and their respect for her.

Senator McMANUS:

– The Australian Democratic Labor Party desires to be associated with the expressions of regret at the passing of former Senator Agnes Robertson. We offer our sympathy to her relatives. 1 met her and knew her for some years in this Parliament. She was a woman of very firm principles. One always had to admire the manner in which she stood by those principles. I admired her, as Senator McKellar did, for her dedication. I can remember her sitting in her place on many late nights, when senators much younger than she was were exhausted, and refusing to leave the chamber. She was intent on what was happening when other senators were almost unable because of exhaustion to come into the chamber. She was a woman of very firm religious principles. J believe that she typified the best qualities of the Scottish race from which she was so proud to have sprung.

I also join in the expression of regret at the death of former Senator O’Flaherty. He was a great fighter for his party. We crossed swords on occasions, but I must say that I found him very fair. I always like a fighter, and he was one. I am very sorry that he has gone. I offer the sympathy of my party to his relatives.

Senator SCOTT:
Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise · LP

– by leave -I do not think I should let this opportunity pass without joining in the expressions of condolence in respect of the two former senators - Senator Robertson and Senator O’Flaherty. Senator Robertson entered this Parliament as a senator with me in the 1949 elections. She was a very forthright senator. She was adamant in her view that Western Australia should receive priority attention from the Commonwealth. I had the utmost respect for her during her period of service in the Senate.

Senator O’Flaherty was a senator when I was elected to the Senate. Having been the Government Whip in the Senate, I know the problems that were associated with this position as Opposition Whip. We members of the Government parties in the Senate had the utmost respect for him. He did his job here with great aplomb. When he left the Senate we all missed him. He was a very good Senator for South Australia. My purpose in saying these few words was to associate members of the Liberal Party with the two expressions of condolence made here this evening.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 11.30 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 March 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.