28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3. p.m., and read prayers.
– I present 12 identically worded petitions from a total of 232 citizens of the Commonwealth in the following terms:
Tothe Honourable the President and members of the
Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petitions received and read.
A petition in identical terms was presented by Senator Murphy.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can he advise when legislation will be prepared so that home buyers will be able to claim interest on mortgages as a tax deduc tion as was promised by the Labor Party during the election campaign? Can he also advise whether there is any delay in the preparation of this legislation? If so, what is the delay?
– This question will be referred to the appropriate Minister. I assure the honourable senator that I am not the appropriate Minister; nor do I represent him in the Senate. I think that the responsibility for this matter falls within the scope of either the Minister for Housing or the Treasurer. As to the suggestions about Australian Labor Party policies, I point out that already the new Government has done a great deal to carry out the policies that were announced during the last election campaign. It is remarkable how much has been achieved already and how much has been set in train by the Government to carry out the undertakings given to the people. I assure the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate that the Prime Minister and all our other colleagues are working as hard as they can to ensure that those promises which were made and accepted by the people of Australia, in some cases to reverse policies and in other cases to make up for the neglect of the former Government, will be carried out as soon as possible.
We look forward to the co-operation of the Opposition in the Senate in giving us assistance to carry the promises that were made into the legislative sphere. If the democratic process is to work, we trust that the Opposition will not endeavour to impede our carrying these valuable promises into effect. I ask for the assistance of the Senate across the whole range of activities, because a real problem is developing. I think that all honourable senators are aware that in the House of Representatives a great deal of legislation is in train. The Parliamentary Counsel and his staff are taxed to the utmost in endeavouring to produce the legislation to give effect to the undertakings which were made to the people. This legislation is being introduced into the Parliament as fast as possible. 1 assure honourable senators that they will be kept extremely busy and will have to sit very long hours in giving consideration to the measures that will be brought forward. If honourable senators were to prepare a list of the promises that have been made, they will be kept busy with their pencils ticking off the performance of them because the Government is determined to translate its promises into performance.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral tell the Senate whether, if the deleterious effects upon the health and welfare of the Australian population from fallout from atmospheric testing by the French Government in the Pacific reach a level of considerable concern, the effect upon the entire populations of peoples living in the Pacific basin will be even greater?
– Of course, that is com- mon sense. The fallout affects primarily the hemisphere in which the testing occurs, but ultimately it affects the population of the world. It is obvious that, as one multiplies this out from the smaller populations to the greater, the effect becomes greater. Whatever might be said about the statistical approach, once the effects move into the areas of very great population the effects become more certain and the probability of damage actually occurring becomes very much greater. I hope to table in the Senate later today a certain number of reports and in particular the report of the Australian Academy of Science on this question. It is obvious that any country which is testing such weapons always endeavours to select a place which has very little population. Therefore, if something goes wrong - of course, history shows that things have gone wrong in the testing of such weapons despite all the precautions which might be taken - the damage done to the people in the immediate vicinity will be relatively small in the sense that the numbers of people there will be small.
That is only one aspect. What we are really concerned about is the damage done to the whole of the population of the world and particularly to the people in this hemisphere. The fact of life is that every man, woman and child in this community has radioactive material in his or her body as a result of the tests, including the French tests in the pacific, and this is causing more and more disquiet as more is learned about these problems by international scientists in the biological field and especially the genetic field. More and more apprehension is being caused to those learned persons about the continuance of tests, because a great deal of harm has been caused to this and future generations by the testing that has already gone. I assure the Senate that the reports will be presented shortly, including the report of the Academy of Science, showing the latest assessment of how these tests affect Australia.
-My question is directed to the Special Minister! of State and Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the 3 Australian citizens Nikola Raspudic, Ante Melicevic and Stevan Coly who were arrested 8 or 9 months ago while holidaying in Yugoslavia and have not since been released. Is the Government able to confirm that Raspudic and Melicevic died in Yugoslav prisons innocent, of any crime in either this country or Yugoslavia? In view of the fact that inquiries about the fate of these people were initiated by the previous Government what, if any, concern has been shown by the present Government about their fate? Why was their fate not a matter for discussion with the Yugoslav Prime Minister when he came here?
– The 3 Slav names which the honourable senator has mentioned are not familiar to me personally .
– They are not the concern of your Government?
– Yes, there is very great concern by my Government about it and that has been proved by the fact that we have protested about the happenings and the execution of 3 dual nationals and by the fact that our embassy over there has been instructed to take up this whole matter, not only now but for the future, of dual nationals or Australians who are caught in Yugoslavia. We have been promised that the Foreign Minister himself will discuss this with our Ambassador.
– Mr President, while I am on my feet may I have permission to answer questions asked yesterday to which I was unable to give specific answers and to which I now have answers? It might be of assistance if you, Sir, would allow me to give the extra information now. Yesterday Senator Davidson asked this question:
My question, which is directed to the Special Minister of State . . . refers to the execution of Australian citizens in Yugoslavia and in particular to reports that some persons who did not take part in the so-called Bosnian incident were arrested while visiting relatives. I ask: Has the Government followed up these reports? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate of the details of any action taken as a result of inquiries made?
We have made inquiries about 10 people who are in the category which Senator Davidson referred to. We have been promised the information but the information is to be given to us without prejudice to the legal principle that these persons are Yugoslav nationals.
I was also asked a question by Senator Jessop, namely:
When, where and in what circumstances were the 3 Australian citizens - Horvat, Keskic and Vlashnovic - arrested in Yugoslavia?
On 20th June 1972 an armed group of 19 terrorists entered Yugoslavia illegally intending to cause material damage, provoke civil war and jeopardise the contitutionally established order of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - we do not know exactly where; it is not in the files of the Foreign Affairs Department. We assume it was in West Bosnia.
asked this question:
When did the trials of these 3 men take olace What was the nature of the trials- court or military, secret or public? What charges were made against the accused?
The information we have is that the trial was by military court in the first instance in Sarajevo, in December 1972. There was an appeal to the Supreme Military Court which was dismissed and an appeal to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Supreme Court which was dismissed. The Presidency confirmed sentences on the dual nationals but commuted the fourth. Our information is that the trials - these are the words that we have been given by the Yugoslav Government - were not secret but they were not advertised. (Opposition senators interjecting) -
- Mr President, I am giving information that has been given to this Government by another government, and I think it is the right of the Senate to have that information. I might point out also that this incident did not occur during the regime of this present Government. Senator Hannan asked the. following question:
Has the Australian Ambassador in Yugoslavia or any of his officers or any official acting on behalf of the Australian Government visited or sought to visit the Australian citizen Ludvig Pavolovic who is reported to be serving a long gaol sentence for alleged offences similar to those for which the 3 men were executed? If no such visit has been made, why not?
Mr Pavolovic is not an Australian citizen. Therefore the Australian Government has no grounds on which it can approach the Yugoslav Government.
asked this question:
What specific evidence is in the possession of the Australian Government which has linked each or any of the 4 Australian citizens executed or imprisoned in Yugoslavia with any alleged Croatian terrorist activities in Australia?
Trial proceedings are awaited from the Yugoslav Government, but the specific evidence question has been referred to the Attorney-General’s Department for advice. There were not 4 Australians but 3 dual nationals only. Pavolovic, as I have just said, is not an Australian and had never been in Australia.
– I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the President’s Gallery of a delegation from the Parliament of New Zealand which is led by Mr J. H. Williams, M.P. On behalf of honourable senators I extend to these fellow parliamentarians from New Zealand a warm welcome to the Parliament of Australia and hope that they will continue to enjoy their visit to Australia as much as they have indicated already that they have.
Honourable Senators - Hear, hear!
– I simply reply that for a period of nearly 2 years I have been trying to draw the attention of the Standing Orders Committee to the whole problem of questions in this place. I have been sitting in the Senate for many years and I have always admired the skill with which Ministers have not answered questions they did not wish to answer. I shall put the matter raised by the honourable senator on the next agenda for the Standing Orders Committee when it is appointed and when it meets.
– What did the Minister for Primary Industry mean by his recent statement to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that there would be no further open ended guarantees to the Australian wheat industry? What did he mean by the words ‘open ended’ in this context? Is it not a fact that all guarantees in the past have been subject to quantity as well as price limitations? Does the Minister intend to substitute for the Australian wheat stabilisation scheme a Labor Party welfare arrangement divorced from any economic basis?
– As the honourable senator is aware, the current wheat stabilisation plan expires this year and will be the subject of renegotiation. In Paris I made a statement which indicated quite clearly that this Government will not see a repetition of what happened under previous wheat stabilisation schemes, particularly the current one. I refer specifically to the commencement of that scheme in 1968 when Mr Anthony, who I think was the Minister for Primary Industry at that time, said that the Commonwealth’s contribution to the scheme would be approximately $68m. In the event, it will be SI 42m. I do not think that it is reasonable to expect the Australian community to meet open ended commitments of that nature. We ought to consider seriously any protection which is. given to any industry - primary or secondary - and which is based on what I would think is a false assumption.
I might say that, although I did not see or hear the interview with representatives of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation in Melbourne yesterday, I understand that the docu ment submitted to me by the Federation is now a public document. In that document the Federation itself has written in the principle of no more ‘ open ended agreements. The amount that is nominated in the Federation’s submission is a matter on which the Federation should advance a case to me. It is sufficient to say that the Federation also’ accepts that there should be no more open ended commitments. I think that this is a major step forward for the industry.
– I ask the Minister for the Media a question in relation . to today’s Press reports of replanning of television programs by the Australian Broadcasting Commission based upon the Government’s grant of $311,000 for expenditure by 30th June this year with a view to increasing Australian content. Has any thought been given to scrapping the current affairs program1 ‘Four- Corners’, which has seriously declined’ in concept and interest as a dominant national presentation in the past several months to the point where it is now hardly worth watching^ and using the production cost savings for a more useful and worthwhile purpose?
– The Government has made an additional $311,000 available this financial year to’ the Australian Broadcasting Commission to enable the Commission to gear up for the ^production of additional Australian programs in. the next financial year. The honourable senator will appreciate, of course, that it takes some time for scripts to be written, casts to’ be selected, props to be made and other matters related to productions to be dealt with. We do not want any delay in programming arrangements on the part of the ABC because of, the inadequacy of funds previously , provided by the former Government.
The Government adopts a policy of complete political programming independence for the Australian Broadcasting’ Commission. This policy has been adhered to religiously by me since I was appointed as the Minister for the Media. I think the rating for the “Four Corners’ program, which is screened on Saturday evening, is, according to the commercial ratings survey, of the order of 1-3, 14 or 15. Of course the program is repeated” on Sunday afternoon. I am given to understand that the Monday Conference’ format has become much more popular with Australian audiences than the old ‘Four Corners’ type of program, although I think that there is still a need for the ‘Four Corners’ type of program because there are so many matters upon which the Australian community needs to be informed. However, I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Commission, having regard to Government policy. If he has any suggestion about any type of replacement program for the ‘Four Corners’ format I would be pleased to receive it from him and forward it to the Commission for its consideration.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory aware that a so-called women’s embassy calling for support for abortion reform was set up yesterday on the lawns opposite Parliament House? ls the Minister further aware that the persons responsible for this eyesore say that the tent will remain in its present position until 10th May? Does the Minister agree that this action contravenes an existing Australian Capital Territory Ordinance? If so. will he indicate the steps, if any, which he proposes to take to ensure that the present law is obeyed and the tent is removed?
– The last part of the question asks what action will be taken. So obviously it is a question for the Minister for the Capital Territory. I will refer it to him for a reply.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question which follows upon Press reports of his recent speech to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, meeting in Paris. Will the Minister table a copy of his speech to clarify his expressed views on issues such as wheat stabilisation, the guaranteed price and other financial aspects and policies involving rural industry, which matters were reported as having been discussed by the Minister in Paris?
– I certainly will publish them. 1 was under the impression that they had been circulated while I was away. I will ensure that the honourable senator gets a copy.
– Order! The New Zealand delegation is about to leave the Senate. We shall see the members again at a later hour.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Does his recollection agree with mine and that of his colleague the Special Minister of State that all information up to the time of his interview with the Yugoslav Ambassador, I think on 9th April, was to the effect that any Australian participants in the alleged Bosnian raid of June had been killed? Although he refused yesterday to give the details of the conversation with the Ambassador on matters other than this, will he give to the Senate candidly and fully the substance of the conversation which he had with the Ambassador when the Ambassador told him that 3 Australian citizens had been shot, having regard to the fact that that information was contrary to all information that his Government had on the subject up to that minute?
– In the first place the honourable senator has asked me about something which depends on documentation which passed between the Yugoslav Government and the previous Government - presumably our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has asked whether all the information we had was to a certain effect.
– No. I asked what was your recollection.
– I am not able to say. I have no recollection of all the information that passed between the 2 governments. The honourable senator has asked a question about information received by the Australian Government. This partly involved the previous Administration and undoubtedly there would be a great deal of documentation on this matter which, after all, involves foreign affairs. I think it would be much more convenient if that information were looked at and the answer given by the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As to what my attitude was to something, I have indicated to the Senate that I was told that an official announcement would be made and that details which were not then known to the. person to whom I was speaking would then be given.
As for the suggestions made by the honourable senator about what my reaction would be to a certain question, my views on capital punishment are well known. A Bill is to come before this chamber today. It was introduced by me and now is a Government measure. Previously, when I was in Opposition it was introduced by me on 2 occasions. That Bill has passed through this chamber twice and I do not think it is necessary for me to elaborate on my views about capital punishment. As 1 said yesterday, I do not intend to discuss with the honourable senator or the Senate a matter which primarily is a matter of foreign affairs. I have dealt sufficiently with the question of communication. That communication does not extend to the honourable senator.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs give an up to date report on the fate of what might be defined as the third force political prisoners in Saigon?
– Early this week we sent a cable to Saigon and I think I should read to the Senate the information that I now have on this matter. It is as follows:
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation say whether it is still proposed to carry on with the abortive inquiry into the Gordon River power scheme in Tasmania, which is almost completed, when Mr Reece says that the inquiry is humiliating to him and in fact has demanded curbs on the inquiry, which has been refused by Dr Cass? If, by some strange reasoning, the committee of inquiry condemns this scheme, can the Minister indicate in what way any knowledge gained could be applied to the Pieman scheme, the next on the list, which proposal is utterly different structurally from the Gordon River scheme?
– The Commonwealth’s environment study that is under way is a new proposal, but it will have very little effect upon schemes which have been commenced and are at an advanced stage. There have been discussions between the Premier of Tasmania, the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment and Conservation on the question of studies in Tasmania. 1 recall that in one Commonwealth study inquiry there was an absence of co-operation on the part of Tasmania.
The main thing that the Commonwealth wants to do - realising that it cannot stop schemes that have been commenced - is to see that developments which have taken place to the detriment of the environment will not occur again without firstly an environment impact study being undertaken. For that purpose an Australian environment committee has been established comprising representatives from the State and Federal spheres. I shall refer the question to the Minister concerned and if there are any further details on the particular project I shall give the honourable senator a fuller answer.
-Has the attention of the Minister for the Media been drawn to the inadequacy of radio broadcasting services to the Torres Strait Islands? Can the Minister inform the Parliament when it is likely that something can be done to rectify the matter?
– The engineering staff of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has been considering for some time the methods which might be adopted to extend the national broadcasting system to the Torres Strait area. As a result of its studies, the first station which might be needed for the area was approved in July of last year. That station is to be located at Weipa and will serve the Weipa township and adjoining mission stations. However, in recent times I have received representations about the matter from Senator Keeffe, the honourable member for Leichhardt in another place, the honourable member for Cairns in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Ray Jones, and also, I think from recollection, from the Anglican Bishop of north Queensland. As a result of these representations a further investigation of the matter is to be carried out when decisions have been reached regarding the case for establishing a ‘Radio Australia’ station in north Queensland in order to extend ‘Radio Australia’ services generally. If it is decided to locate a high frequency station in the Cape York Peninsula area, then there could be advantage in installing a high power medium frequency station within the same complex to serve the Torres Strait area. In summary, the Broadcasting Control Board, the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Australian Broadcasting Commission all are agreed that there is a case for improving the coverage of the national service in the northern Cape York and Torres Strait areas. The engineering planning is continuing, and the Board expects that it will be able to announce a firm proposal in the near future.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Have the leaders of the island communities in Torres Strait requested a visit to the islands by the Prime Minister or any other Minister of the Federal Government in order to discuss the border issue? If so, what was the reply? Did the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs contact the leaders in Torres Strait prior to his recent visit? If so, what were their replies?
– I believe that there has been frequent contact between the Australian Government and those responsible for the Torres Strait islands, including the local inhabitants, in relation to a discussion of this matter. As the honourable senator knows, over the Easter period the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs visited the islands. As Senator Keeffe said yesterday, the Minister was well received. I think that there may have been an exception in relation to one island. But this matter is under constant review. There is constant communication between all who are interested in the new boundaries between Papua New Guinea and Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. What is the essential difference in the assessment of the biological effects of nuclear explosion fallout from the reports of the National Radiation Advisory Committee up until June 1972 and of the Council of the Australian Academy of Science?
– I think that this is in anticipation of another matter.
– Yes, it is. This is an important matter and it is connected directly with the report which I propose to table later and with the statement which I shall seek leave to make in connection with the tabling of that report and some other reports. It might be appropriate to wait until that is done.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that many people in Tasmania and other parts of Australia are still most annoyed by the way they are being incorrectly charged by the Postmaster-General’s Department due to apparent errors in subscriber trunk dialling charges and that even when these people complain to the Department it is almost impossible to obtain satisfaction? Will the Minister investigate the STD complaints in Tasmania in order to ascertain whether they are, as I suspect, more numerous than the national average? If necessary, will he appoint a special investigator for the Tasmanian region so that subscribers there who have been overcharged will receive a fair go?
– I am aware that a number of people not only in Tasmania but also throughout various other parts of Australia are expressing annoyance at what they believe to be incorrect charges for their telephone calls. I understand that the Postmaster-General said in another place that there is often confusion about the distinction between subscriber trunk dialling and local calls because, currently, no warning is given in relation to STD calls. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department is considering the possibility of introducing a warning signal for STD calls. I understand that it has been suggested that a warning signal should be given at the beginning of a call. The appointment of a special investigator for Tasmania is a matter for the administration of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and for the Postmaster-General. I shall refer that portion of the honourable senator’s question to my colleague in another place.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether it is a fact that on 7th April last he held a meeting with about 7 people whom his Press release described as representative Croatian origin Australians. Is it a fact that the same Press release also stated that these people supported the Attorney-General and the Government in their efforts to stamp out the terrorism and violence of a small minority? I ask the Attorney-General: What Croatian organisations in fact were represented by these people? Is he aware that most of the organisations represented were precisely those which he has alleged in this Senate were devoted to terrorism and violence? Is it not a fact that 2 of the people present, Drago Bratusha and Ivan Budkovic, were actually named by the Attorney-General in his documents dealing with alleged terrorism? Is it not a fact that the said Drago Brutusha is a member of HOP and a former member of Ustasha, and that Ivan Budkovic is alleged to be a former member of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood and was refused naturalisation by the previous Government? Having named these men as ferocious terrorists, what is the Attorney-General’s excuse for consorting with them?
– I am not sure of the identity of the persons who came to see me. If certain persons belonged at some time to certain bodies - I simply accept for the purposes of the answer what the honourable senator has put forward - and they have now expressed the view that they appreciate what has been done by myself and the Government in endeavouring to stamp out terrorism in Australia, and if that includes persons who were the subject of proceedings or nam ing, then I suppose that indicates, or may indicate, some welcome change of heart. I believe that everyone in the community ought to be encouraged to join in the view that terrorism and violence ought not be tolerated in Australia and that it should certainly not be used as any kind of political weapon. I would certainly be prepared to support such a view. If as the honourable senator seems to be indicating, there are persons in the community who hitherto belonged to bodies which had as part of their constitution statements indicating that unlawful action should be taken or that there should be actions which would lead to violence and terrorism, and that those persons have shown some change in mind or heart, I believe that that may be a helpful development.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that yesterday at the Macarthur Girls High School in Sydney certain priests used the weekly scripture period for the distribution of anti-abortion literature? Is the Minister aware that the same religious group is persuading young children to write letters to Federal parliamentarians urging them to vote against the reform of abortion law in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory? Will the Minister give an assurance that this type of political indoctrination does not occur in schools under Commonwealth jurisdiction? Will the Minister give an assurance that the Federal Government deplores the manipulation of school children for such political purposes?
– I suppose that schools of whatever character are places which are used, even if not consciously, for some form of political indoctrination. This indoctrination is usually of a kind which is directed towards the status quo of the community. I know that there are differing views on whether children should be exposed to what might be termed political indoctrination. My view, from an observation of young people and even relatively young children, is that they are much more aware of these political issues than their elders think and that often they take very little notice of their teachers on political questions and on broad social and moral issues. I believe they have a healthly disrespect for any attempt to indoctrinate them overtly. I would not like to give the assurance that the honourable senator seeks. I know his feelings about the matter and I know that others share them. I assume that probably the authorities in control of the schools will react as they always do and insist that the schools not be places where there is any form of political discussion. This may be a matter more appropriate for the Minister for Education, or in this case the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory, to consider. If I were to venture what may be a personal opinion, I think it would be much better for children to be exposed to the various sides of the great social and political issues of the day. To a certain extent that happens anyway, even if attempts are made to preserve them from such exposure.
– In a sense, my question is a follow-up to a question related to civil rights that I asked the Attorney-General some weeks ago. I pointed out then that certain people claimed to be innocent although they had been caught up in allegations in regard to the Croat issue. I asked what remedy or tribunal they had available to them. The Attorney-General said that there was none as far as he knew, although these people had been attacked under privilege. He said that the matter was worth thinking about. I have not heard the results of his thoughts, but I have heard from some more citizens of Croat origin who have written to me and said - I am asking the question for this reason - that some weeks ago their homes were raided, doors were smashed in and articles - including photographs, letters, their children’s schoolbooks, documents, bank books and business account books - were seized and taken away. As no charges have been laid against the citizens who have written to me and as they claim that they are completely innocent, I ask: As a matter of ordinary civil liberties, when will their property be returned so that they can operate their business affairs and their children can use the schoolbooks concerned? Who is responsible for the damage to their houses? Who will compensate them for the manner in which the doors were smashed in on occasions? Finally, who authorised the raids? I ask that last question so that at least they can ask their lawyers whether they can take civil action for damages or the return of their property.
– The honourable senator has raised a problem and suggested that in some search pf premises, presumably by police - he does not say whether it was-
– Commonwealth police.
– He says now that it was the Commonwealth police. He suggested that something unlawful or irregular was done. If such occurred, of course there is a remedy available to the people concerned. If the honourable senator were to indicate to my Department with some precision who are the people concerned, some inquiry could be made into the matter and the names of the officers concerned, if they were Commonwealth police officers, could be made available. Very great civil remedies are available for any kind of illegality in regard to searches or seizures of property. These . are a very important part- of the law of the land in order to ensure that the liberties of the people are preserved. If the honourable senator cared to pursue that course he could obtain that information.
– It is important that they should know who authorised the raids: Are you prepared to say who was the authority?
– If the honourable senator would supply the particulars, the information could be obtained for him.
– ‘But surely you are able to say who authorised the raid.
– The honourable senator is asking me about some particular searches. If he will give me the circumstances, no doubt the information can be obtained for him.
– We will give you more than you want to hear.
– The honourable senator need not give the information to Senator Gair if he does not wish to do so. He can request-
– The information will be supplied by our Party in the form of sworn declarations.
– The information, even without the sworn declarations, would be sufficient. If the honourable senator writes to me or supplies me with information, I will endeavour to obtain the information for him through my Department.
– My question without notice is directed to the Attorney-General. Is it correct to assume that the present Australian Government’s attitude is that any ill effects whatever, however small, from the proposed nuclear tests in the Pacific are totally undesirable?
– Yes, that is the policy of the Government. It has been made clear in recent months that any damage or potential damage is totally undesirable. A red herring is often dragged across the trail in regard to this matter. I think that in this Senate a comparison has been raised with damage which might occur from other sources such as X-rays, radio-active material on watches or even travelling at heights in aircraft. This is the kind of damage which is, in a sense, self inflicted or undergone voluntarily. One can take the example of X-rays. You choose to have an X- ray and you balance the harm it may do to you against the benefit you get in the course of your illness.
– In some States it is compulsory.
– Some people unfortunately are not permitted to take X-rays. I know one prominent scientist who will not undergo X-rays because they would be dangerous to him. It is a question therefore of balancing the potential harm against the benefit. However, in the case of tests which have been performed by, for example, the French in the Pacific there is no benefit to us. This is something which is done against our will and any harm, small though it may be or large though it may be, is inflicted against our will and is not to be compared with that which might come to us naturally or artificially from radiation.
– I ask the Leader of the Government, as the Minister representing the Prime Minister, a question without notice. Does the Commonwealth Government intend to deny the Australian State Governments all right of access to the Privy Council? Does the Commonwealth Government propose to interfere in any way with the existing relations between the Australian States and the Sovereign and also the existing relations between the Australian States and the United Kingdom Government and the Parliament at Westminster?
– The policy of the Australian Government is that the High Court should be constituted as the final court of appeal for all Australian cases and that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council be constituted by its Australian members sitting in Australia until appeals to it from State courts are abolished. It is quite plain that the aim of the Australian Government is that no external court should deal with domestic Australian cases whether they come from State courts or from Federal courts - that no such cases should be determined ultimately by somebody outside Australia, not responsible to Australia, not appointed by Australia and in fact acting in relation to the United Kingdom Government itself. There is no doubt that we will seek to carry out that policy and to end in effect the relationship between Australia and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. As I understand the matter, first of all there is nothing in our platform and nothing in the electoral program -
– Is that what you are quoting from there?
– Yes. It is not the full platform but it is most of it. I have not referred to what is in the electoral program, but there is nothing in it dealing with the aspect of the connection between the Queen and the State Parliaments, for example. If one looks at the constitutional situation I should imagine that one would say that the Queen is in a way part of the State Parliaments in the same way that she is part of this Parliament. There are certain relationships connected with that and there is no suggestion in the platform of the Australian Labor Party or in our policy which was announced by the Government to interfere with that situation. The third part of the honourable senator’s question dealt, I think, with the relationship of the United Kingdom Parliament and the Australian States. I think that third matter would fall in the same category as the first one. Although I do not see it spelt out, there is little doubt that we take the view that in no way should Australia be subordinate to the United Kingdom. It was stated in the Balfour Declaration back in 1926 that we are equal in status and none in any way subordinate to the other. This was to be the rule for the whole of the then British Commonwealth, and it is still our view that this should be so. Without it being spelt out in any way, we would regard it as quite inconsistent with the
Independence of Australia that the United Kingdom Parliament should in any way be able to legislate in regard to Australia or any part of it. We know that that residual colonial kind of power still exists. In fact, curiously it might have to be invoked in order to get rid of it. But the intention would be quite clear - let there be no doubt about that - that we would think it quite inconsistent with the independence of Australia that the United Kingdom Parliament would continue to have legislative authority over Australia or any part of it.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I refer to a question asked a little earlier today by Senator Gair concerning the alleged law breaking by pro-abortion demonstrators on the lawns opposite Parliament House. I ask the Minister: If indeed these women are breaking the law, are they not merely obeying advice recently given by a prominent prelate that on the matter of abortion it is permissible for people to disobey the law if their conscience so directs them?
– I do not know that they are obeying the advice of the prelate but it appears that they are acting in accordance with it.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Works who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister aware of the difficulties now being experienced by the Kangaroo Island residents in respect of regular air communication with the mainland arising from the unsatisfactory condition of the Kingscote Airport runways in wet weather? Is he aware that the airport has been closed to air traffic after as little as 65 points of rain, as was again experienced this week? Will the Minister draw the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to the urgent need for the sealing of the main runway at the Kingscote aerodrome?
– In view of the location of my residence I should be more aware than the Minister for Civil Aviation of difficulties at the airport on Kangaroo Island, but surprisingly, I am not. I will take up the latter part of the question with the Minister to see whether anything can be done to relieve the position.
– My question is addressed to the Special Minister of State as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of his answer to my question yesterday, when he said that the documents declassified as a result of the raids on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation were not declassified at the time of the execution of Australians in Yugoslavia, can he explain to me Press reports appearing on 1 9th March which read: ‘Senator Murphy, assisted by officials of the Attorney-General’s Department, the Commonwealth Police, ASIO and special experts on Croatian activities, spent the weekend sifting files and all available evidence of terrorist groups’? As that seems to constitute an official Press release, has the Minister any information as to who were the experts on Croatian activities’? Would not their sifting of the files constitute breaching normal security of the documents, or is it a common practice for ASIO files to be examined by such a broadly representative group?
– I call the AttorneyGeneral. .
– The question was directed to me.
– Very well. I call the Special Minister of State.
– Mr President, I quite understand your error in calling the AttorneyGeneral
– It was you who gave the answer that the documents were not declassified.
– Well, the honourable senator asked me yesterday, and I will try to give him the answer today. I do not know who were the experts who assisted Senator Murphy, if the Press report was true. I have no idea.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs any information for me in reply to the question that I asked him yesterday regarding the training of Thai officers in Australia?
– Yes. Senator Gair asked me a question yesterday regarding the training of Thai officers at Queenscliff. I did not have the information then, but I have some information now. It is true that Thailand has had a student on each Queenscliff course since 1958 and has one there now. It is not true that the Australian Government has decided not to offer to students from Thailand in future any places at Queenscliff or other Australian training establishments. No such proposal has been considered by the Government. Applications from Thailand will be considered in the light of the places available and the number of applications received from other countries.
What did happen earlier this year was that the Thais requested that in future we set aside a place for an officer from Thailand each year at Queenscliff. This request was not granted. No country has ever been given a guarantee of continued annual placement of an officer at Queenscliff and, in the current circumstances of intense pressure on the facility, no such guarantee could be contemplated. Subsequently, the Thais requested a place for the 1974 course. They were advised on 1st March that a response would be given in August when all applications from overseas countries had been considered and the number of places available to overseas countries was known. That is still the position. This matter must be seen in the context of diminishing spare places at Queenscliff but rising demand from overseas. For the 1973 course, there were only 4 spare places - the fewest ever - but 13 places were requested by overseas countries - the highest ever. If a similar situation obtains this year, it will be necessary once again to disappoint a number of applicant countries.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Yesterday, as recorded on page 1159 of Hansard, I put a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. His answer indicates that he totally misunderstood my phraseology. Therefore, I now ask, inter alia: Is the man who came to dinner at the Lodge and who was heralded and guarded in Australia as the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia not, as we know the Prime. Minister, next in order of seniority to the President but, in fact, approximately fourth or fifth down the line of seniority in his own country? If this information is correct, was it known to the Government prior to the man’s arrival in Australia?
– In answering the question yesterday I said that I was not sure of the situation but I thought that if a person came to Australia properly accredited as the Prime Minister of a country the Australian Government would accept that. I think that statement stands. Earlier today I answered another question which Senator Marriott asked.
– I have that one.
– He has that one. I did not think I misunderstood him yesterday. 1 have some information for Senator Marriott on this matter. Mr Bijedic’s correct title is President of the Federal Executive Council of Yugoslavia. However, to some extent the Federal Executive Council is equivalent to our Federal Cabinet. Therefore Mr Bijedic is usually described as the Prime Minister. That is the term which is given him by the ‘International Who’s Who 1972-73’. In official ranking, the Federal Executive Council is below the Collective Presidency, which is headed by President Tito and which comprises 23 persons, including 3 members from each of 6 republics and 2 members from the autonomous provinces. President Tito is reported to be planning to reduce this body to 6 members in the next round of constitutional amendments to increase its efficiency. The Collective Presidency is responsible for formulating policies, and the Executive Council is responsible for their execution. However, in practice, the Executive Council probably shares to a considerable extent in the responsibility for determining policy, especially on matters of technical detail. The Foreign Minister, for example, is a member of the Executive Council.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. I refer to President Nixon’s announcement about United States aid to South East Asia in which it was noted there was no allocation to North Vietnam pending observance of the cease fire. Can the Minister say whether in the Australian program for international aid which is planned for South East Asia there is any decision relating to North Vietnam?
– I have noticed the announcement. We are watching very carefully the situation in Indo-China. However, the provisions of the agreement on the end of the war are still being worked out, and we are hopeful of a continuation of moves towards a settlement. There have been accusations from both sides of breaches of the agreement. Our policy on aid relates to aid to the whole of Indo-China as it is required. Therefore, this will include North Vietnam. Assistance to traditional recipients of Australian aid is continuing. The Department of Foreign Affairs is still working on appropriate assistance for North Vietnam.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Was the date of the execution of the 3 Australian citizens in Yugoslavia - 17th March 1973 - 3 days prior to the visit to Australia of the Yugoslav Prime Minister, Mr Bijedic? Did the timing of these executions effectively eliminate any possible embarrassment to the Yugoslav Government in the likely event that a responsible Australian Government would have; asked and should have asked Mr Bijedic whether any Australians were held in custody in Yugoslavia and, if so, for the right of immediate access to them? Does not this calendar of events emphasise further the strong possibility that the 3 Australian citizens were innocent to insurgent activities?
– Then why were they there?
– Senator Poyser might prejudge, them; we do not. If not, for what reasons were massive security precautions maintained by the Yugoslav Government during the trials, appeals and imprisonment over 9 months of these 3 Australian citizens?
– The information which was in our possession, and which had been given to the previous Government, when Mr Bijedic arrived here was that these people had been killed during the battle that took place in Bosnia. Therefore, we did not raise this question with him. As I said yesterday, it is very easy to be wise after the event and ask why all sorts of things were not raised.
– That was not my question.
– I thought you asked why we did not raise this question.
– I asked about the timing.
– Your Government had been given the information that these people were already dead. It was not until very recently that we were given the information by the Yugoslav Government that they were executed on 17th March. It is all right to have hindsight but why would we raise the question? Does the honourable senator want it to be a matter of standard practice that we ask every Prime Minister who visits this country whether he is holding any Australian national iri gaol, whether anyone has been executed, and what has happened to a couple of fellows - -
– Why would you not do that?
– I certainly do not want to be put in that position with every Prime Minister or similar person who comes here. Does the honourable senator suggest that if President Nixon or Mr Heath came here we should ask them what they had done or will do with people who are Australian nationals or people who have dual nationality? The fact is that the former Australian Government did. not do very much about this either. If the honourable senator looks at the papers that were tabled in the House of Representatives he will see that the then Australian Government refused to make any approaches to .the Yugoslav Government.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has seen fit to confer with the Chief Minister for Papua New Guinea, Mr Somare, on the Torres Strait Islands border issue, and considering the statement attributed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs recently in the Press, has the Prime Minister taken any steps to confer with -the leaders of the Torres Strait Islands people and the Queensland Government on a matter which is of great importance in the lives of many Australian citizens?
– The question should be referred to the Prime Minister. I ask the honourable senator to place the 1 question on notice so that an answer may be received from the Prime Minister.
– Is the Minister , for Customs and Excise aware that as a result of his prohibition on the export of kangaroo products there is a threatened increase in the number of kangaroos not only in the northwestern pastoral areas of Western Australia but also in the farming areas in the southwest of that State? Is he aware that this increase is fast becoming a serious problem for pastoralists, many of whom are struggling to restock after prolonged drought and low wool prices? Is he aware that as a result a massive poisoning campaign is being planned in the north-western areas of Western Australia - this seems to be the only legal and practical method available to cope with this problem - which will cause much greater damage to the species and other wildlife than the reasonable export of selected kangaroo products? In the light of these matters will the Minister reconsider his policies and permit the encouragement of reasonable farming of kangaroos?
– The honourable senator has raised a number of questions about kangaroos and I think he should be given a proper answer. I think that could be done fairly readily. Perhaps he should put the question on notice and I will endeavour to give him a rather fuller answer than would be possible now during question time. All the matters he raised are important. I think he would like to know the answers to them in some detail. I will get a considered reply for him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. I refer to questions I have asked during the preceding 2 months relating to my requests for an investigation of the cost and practicality of making Hobart airport suitable for use by international jet aircraft. Can I expect an answer to the simple question whether the Minister will undertake the investigation?
– On all occasions on which such questions were asked I answered as fully as I was able and promised to seek more information from the Minister for Civil Aviation. Copies of the relevant Hansard reports have been sent to the Minister and he has supplied many replies. If I have not given the Senate a reply to this question, I have not received the reply as yet. I will contact the Minister and see whether we can hasten a reply. ‘
– Mr President, I direct a question to yourself. Yesterday we had occasion in this place sadly to mark the passing of a very great Australian, Sir Arthur Fadden. Appropriate tributes were paid to the deceased former member of the House of Representatives, and honourable senators signified their concern and sorrow by standing in their places. It appeared to me that such a tribute in itself was inadequate for one who was in. his time the first elected. citizen of this country, and I think that that, is a position of such stature that his passing should be marked more .appropriately. I ask, Mr President, whether you would consider referring to the Standing Orders Committee the suggestion that a protocol might be developed by which significance, should be given to these occasions, particularly in the case of a former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, by perhaps the Senate adjourning if only for an hour so that the occasion could appropriately be marked.
– 1 will undertake to put that matter on the agenda of the next meeting of the Standing Orders Committee.
– If and when it meets.
– I have already made an observation on that.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence. Does the Minister recall having told the Senate on 14th April, in answer to a question by me, that the Government had taken some action regarding a replacement aircraft for the Mirage? I now ask him whether it is a fact that because the Government is attempting desperately to reverse its over-spending spree, consideration has been given to deferring the replacement project. Does this mean that the team from the Departments of Air and Defence which visited other countries in carrying out evaluation of possible alternative aircraft has wasted its time and effort and the taxpayers’ money?
– The .statement that 1 have seen in the Press is purely speculation. It is not correct. As a matter of fact, the parties which have conducted the investigations are continuing their investigations and the Government is very anxious that we should get a determination soon so that not only are the aircraft replaced but also our plans for the rationalisation of the aircraft industry can be . put into effect. ] can assure Senator DrakeBrockman that whatever inferences he has drawn from the speculation in the Press are not correct.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. What action can be taken by the Commonwealth Minister for Transport to ensure that a uniform traffic code is applied, in view of the contemplated change in motorist procedure at stop signs in New South Wales, which will be completely at variance With the procedure in at least 2 other States?
– I have seen a report of the New South Wales decision to alter the meaning of stop signs so that after halting at a stop sign a motorist will have to give way to vehicles both on his right and his left. The National Road Safety Code, which is a joint Commonwealth and- States code, has defined that ‘stop’ means stop only, and then it is a matter for the State law to define to whom a motorist gives way. Tasmania has always had the law which provided that whenever a motorist stopped he had to wait until the carriageway was clear both on his right and his left. Western Australia introduced this law in 1971, and Victoria intends to introduce it in June of this year. Now we see the statement that New South Wales is to introduce the law. It indicates that there is a tendency among State organisations to get uniformity by providing that it is essential that at a stop sign a motorist gives way to vehicles coming in both directions.
The general international meaning of stop signs, which was adopted by the 1968 United Nations Convention on Safety, is that a stop sign means stop and give way. Furthermore, the report of the expert committee on road safety, which was established in Australia in September 1972 and which reported to the Minister, again supported the proposal that a stop sign meant that a motorist had to stop and give way. The. Australian Government supports this proposal. We can do nothing about the other 2 States in relation to implementing that decision. But it is the tendency for States to adopt the same principle. It is to be hoped that these other States will likewise adopt the common code.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Is it not a fact that radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion in China is just as potent to the world’s atmosphere as one in the Pacific? Has it ever been contemplated that representations be made to the People’s Republic of China - as they call it - along the grounds 1 have- indicated?
– In one sense an explosion which occurs anywhere, given the same yield and conditions, is as potent as one somewhere else. But there- are some differences. One well-known scientific difference relates to the hemisphere in which the explosion occurs. Of course, sometimes after an explosion there is - a diffusion throughout the whole of the globe, but it is understood that there is a difference between an explosion in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere. For example, the people of Australia are affected by one which occurs in the southern . hemisphere. That is not to say that damage does not result to us from an explosion which takes place in the northern hemisphere. Of course there is damage. The honourable senator asks whether some protest should be made. This has been done. The Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs may have more precise details with him, .but even in recent weeks a protest was made by Australia in. relation to the Chinese nuclear tests. The attitude of the Australian people is clearly in opposition to these nuclear tests, particularly to atmospheric nuclear tests anywhere and especially to those which are being conducted in our own hemisphere. The honourable senator may know that Australia is in dispute with France over the proposed continuance of atmospheric nuclear testing by that country ‘in the Pacific. But let us have no doubt about the matter. There may be partial differences depending on when, how, how large and so forth the tests are but, in substance, the complaint should be the same that they are the source of potential harm to the people of the world.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral supply to the Senate details of who were the experts in Croatian affairs who assisted him, Commonwealth police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation officers and Attorney-General’s Department officials to sift the ASIO documents during the week ending 17th to 19th March? How many people were actually involved? What security arrangements, if any, were made to preserve the secret classification of the documents during the days preceding the executions in Yugoslavia?
– I cannot give the honourable senator the details which he is seeking. But if he is suggesting in some way that external persons were brought in, that is, persons apart from those who were in the Departments or working with me-
– Will the Attorney-General give us the information if I put the question on notice?
– I tell the honourable senator that there were no such people. If the honourable senator is conjuring up suggestions about Yugoslav secret police or other persons I tell him plainly now that no such persons were involved. There was nothing like that at all.
– That is not answering the question. Will the honourable senator tell us who they were?
– If the honourable senator cares to put his question on notice, I will consider whether it should be answered. We are getting to the stage where honourable senators soon will want to know every person to whom one speaks and the content of every conversation that one has. We may even get to the stage where they will want to know, what one has for breakfast and the details of every telephone conversation. This can become an absurdity. However, I would say in regard to the honourable senator’s question that no person who was not properly authorised saw or dealt with the documents.
– My question which Is addressed to the Attorney-General is in a lighter and more local vein than previous questions but is just as important. I fear that the impression may have been gathered earlier in question time that the young ladies - I think they are young - who are encamped on the lawns in front of Parliament House may be infringing the law. Is the Attorney-General not aware that the Minister for the Capital Territory, in keeping with the announcement he made on assuming office, has caused the Ordinance forbidding the camping by people on the lawns in front of Parliament House to be repealed and that now, under the Australian Labor Party in office, there is practically no restriction on what may be done by people on the lawns outside the national Parliament?
– I would hate to think, after listening to what the honourable senator said, of what occurs on the lawns in front of Parliament House if, as the honourable senator has suggested, there is practically no restriction upon what might be done there. This is a matter for the Minister for the Capital Territory. I am glad that it is his responsibility to deal with these young ladies, not mine.
– I direct a question to the. Special Minister of State who assists the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Can he throw any light upon statements, which were made in reference to the visit of the Prime Minister to the Pacific conference at Apia, to the effect that an attack was made by Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the Prime Minister of Fiji, which was said to be supported by representatives of other Pacific countries, on what was described as industrial interference from Australia in the affairs of the. Pacific countries? Can the Minister elucidate exactly what was referred to and what were the circumstances?
– If Senator McManus looked at the communique which was issued at the conclusion of the Pacific Forum he would see that this question was referred to specifically during the Forum. The communique indicated that there were objections and pointed out the impossibility of some trade unions demanding equality of wages in the Pacific area with those obtained in more developed areas of the world. This was referred to in the communique which was a pretty good description of what happened at the Forum.
– Senator Hannan asked me a question on 27th March and I did obtain a report for him. I had it on one occasion in the Senate but for some reason it was not delivered. If I might answer his question now, the explanation supplied to me is as follows:
Two members of the Commonwealth Police Force, namely Constable First Class Walter Maier and Constable Peter Francis Holder, called at the home of Franjo Till at 17/ 19th Street, Narrabundah in the early hours of the morning of Sunday, 18th March 1973 in order to establish whether one Ivan Pavlovic was inside the house.
Mr Pavlovic had threatened that he would kill the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, Mr Bijedic. Senior police officers considered that it was important to locate Mr Pavlovic. The Commonwealth Police had no search warrant and entered the premises on the invitation of Mr Till. Mr Till asked for and was shown Constable Maier’s warrant card. Constable Holder was not asked to identify himself and did not speak to any of the inmates of the premises. The police officers were shown around the house by Mr Till and then left. Nothing was seized. Neither Constable Maier nor Constable Holder speaks Croatian. Two members of the Commonwealth Police Force are fluent in the Croatian language. A number of persons were present in the premises. A number of children in one room were not disturbed by the police.
No member of the Yugoslav secret police accompanied the 2 Commonwealth police officers concerned in this case or on any other occasion when police visited. The police are not aware whether any Yugoslav secret police came to Australia with Mr Bijedic.
The answer to another part of the honourable senator’s question - can I inform the Senate how many Yugoslav secret police accompanied raids upon Australian homes in Canberra during the past 10 to 12 days - is none. A further explanation is that a number of private premises were visited by police prior to the arrival and during the visit of Mr Bijedic in the course of their duty to keep certain people and premises under proper surveillance. When the police entered the premises, they did so with the permission of the occupants. In one case, premises were searched in pursuance of a warrant to search for a prohibited immigrant. The Commonwealth Police Force will seek and execute search warrants in accordance with the law. That is the explanation that has been supplied to me.
– I wish to direct a supplementary question to–
– In reason, Mr President, I suggest that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter signed by, among others, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers, which reads as follows:
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64 we give notice of intention to move today:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 10.55 a.m. for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency.
Statement of matter of urgency:
The welcome and support for delegations from North Vietnam and the revolutionary Vietcong given by Dr Cairns, Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry in the Whitlam Government and the recognition and condonation thereby given by the Whitlam Government to the North Vietnam aggression and Vietcong terrorism.
– Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.)
– I move:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.55 a.m. for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency.
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The welcome and support for delegations from North Vietnam and the revolutionary Vietcong given by Dr Cairns, Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry in the Whitlam Government and the recognition and condonation thereby given by the Whitlam Government to the North Vietnam aggression and Vietcong terrorism.
This motion cries out for support from all thinking Australians. Last Wednesday was Anzac Day, a day set apart as a national holiday because it is a day of remembrance for those devoted servicemen and women who gave their lives in 2 world wars, in Korea, and lastly in Vietnam. Despite all the affected cynicism and the trendy media approach to rubbish our traditions, it is a day held in very great veneration by the great bulk of this nation. It therefore seems incredible to us that on the very next day the Whitlam Government, acting through the medium of its third most senior Minister, Dr Cairns, should entertain 6 members of the Vietcong and members from North Vietnam in the Sydney Town Hall - the enemy against whom our troops were so recently engaged and against whom our allies are still engaged. I am completely unimpressed by the sophistry that Dr Cairns is not committing the Government - that he is speaking in some vague form of private capacity - and I am unimpressed by the allegation that the Congress for International Peace and Disarmament is the sponsoring body, since that is a communist front outfit anyhow. By saying nothing Mr Whitlam is condoning the action of his Minister, who is only 2 heartbeats from becoming Prime Minister and who was actually Acting Prime Minister for 9 hours recently.
I have here, Mr Deputy President, for your enjoyment perhaps one of the most disgraceful photographs that I have ever seen in political life in this country. It is a photograph of Dr Cairns flanked by 6 communist visitors from North Vietnam at the Sydney Town Hall. I do not know whether honourable senators opposite want it to be tabled; I am willing to do so if they wish. In the plainest possible terms this is an approval by this Government of naked and unprovoked aggression. There is supposed to have been a peace settlement in Vietnam, but the very people whose representatives are shown discussing with Dr Cairns are still continuing the aggression they began 19 years ago. This morning the United States Government announced that it would have to resume hostilities if the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese did not cease their breaches of the ceasefire agreement. Dennis Warner in this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ - perhaps he is our most reliable commentator on foreign affairs - says that Dr Henry Kissinger’s bitter denunciation of North Vietnam for having systematically and cynically violated all the major pledges on the Vietnam ceasefire is more than justified by the latest developments in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Yet these people from the North, the Vietcong, are honoured guests in this country at the direct, indirect or oblique invitation of the Whitlam Government.
In this Senate we have heard a lot about terrorism of recent times. Much of what has been said has been pretty indefinite and nobody has been very certain as to who produced the actions responsible for the allegations. There is no doubt whatever about the terror of the Vietcong, because they claim and assert that terror is a political weapon in the armory of the Vietcong. They murder village officials, terrorise all those people opposed to them, and they “ actually glory in their barbarity. We have heard a great deal in this Senate chamber over the years about the massacre of My Lai in’ 1967 in which 110 civilians “were massacred by American soldiers: Very rightly the Americans prosecuted their officers and those concerned. But a year later there was another massacre at My Lai, and this time the 46th Regiment of the Vietcong was responsible. It massacred 146 civilians, but we did not hear a word of protest from honourable senators opposite. Their withers were hot wrung. Their indignation is so selective’ that when the barbarity and terrorism of the Vietcong is. at stake what we hear from them is a crashing silence.
It is unnecessary to traverse the horrors of the temporary occupation by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese of. the.. imperial city of Hue during the so-called Tet offensive in 1968 when about 4,50,0 civilians were, murdered, .many of them being buried alive. There was no . protest then from Dr J. F. Cairns; np protest from Mr Uren; no protest from Mr Clyde Cameron; not even a protest from Mr Whitlam, the white knight.
The Government’s approval of the visit of the Vietcong and the northerners fits into a pattern. In every conceivable way this Government has shown its support for the communist side in Indo-China. It has withdrawn our medical : teams from Vietnam despite all the claptrap about civil aid and not military aid. It has withdrawn civil ,aid from South Vietnam altogether. The DC3 aircraft are not allowed to go to Cambodia. The Government has promised $78m in civil aid reconstruction to the North, but I know of no figure which I can quote in relation to aid which actually has been promised to the South. The Government has excluded Cambodian officers from training here. Short of sending the Royal Australian Air Force oh a bombing mission over South Vietnam, there does not seem to be much else that the Government could have done to destroy the cause of our allies in that country. ‘
The visit of these people to Australia is a symptom of a disease. It is no use the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) trying to unload all the blame on Dr J. F. Cairns for this gaffe because, it is as. much his fault. It is as a result of bis administration or lack of it. He cannot unload the responsibility for this insult to our servicemen and women because it would be grossly unfair to do so. I think even the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) would agree with me that the way in which the Prime Minister unloaded all the blame for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Croatian bungle on him yesterday was grossly unfair and politically dishonest. I am not suggesting that the AttorneyGeneral did not add his meed of nonsense to that imbroglio. Mr Whitlam claims to be responsible for foreign policy, if any. He claims that we now have an independent foreign policy. Independent of whom? Certainly it is not independent as far as communist powers are concerned. He has been oleaginously servile whenever a matter concerning a communist power has been at issue. Is it necessary to list examples? The list includes the crawl to Red China, the Professor Teng case, the Taiwan basketball team case, the Taiwan ping pong team case, the rush to East Germany, the rush to Hanoi, the promise to recognise the Vietcong, and so on ad infinitum. I think that we can forget the cynical action in recognising the Vatican because 1 have no doubt that Mr Whitlam, like Henry of Navarre, believes that Canberra is worth a mass.
Sure, we have been independent in a sense. We have insulted the British. Certainly, we have grossly offended the Americans. We have annoyed Thailand. We have humbugged Malaysia. True, they are not communist countries. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to find one respectable friend we have left in the whole wide world. As far as I know - I am only speaking from memory - no major insult has been offered to Canada. But I have no doubt that this lot will get around to it.
It is no wonder that the American President, according to the ‘Australian Financial Review’ refused on 2 occasions to receive this upstart. It is no wonder that the Thais told the Australian Prime Minister - and here I quote because I would not use this language myself - to mind his own ‘bloody business’. That is what our Asian friends think of our new independent foreign policy. Independent of whom? Look how independent we really are. We propose to line up with the Third World countries in Algiers. Australia is to be represented there with, what I understand is called, observer status.
As honourable senators will know, a conference of Third World or non-aligned countries usually degenerates into a Yankee bashing session. There is nothing else to talk about. What happens? What is the attitude of most of these countries? I have heard the representatives of two of them talking at the United Nations. This was when I was accompanied by my friend, Senator O’Byrne. One of these gentlemen from the Third World trounced the Americans verbally as much as he could. He was then overtaken by the course of events as an earthquake occurred in his country. To whom did this same gentleman rush screaming for aid? He was back pleading with the Americans to pull his country out of the mire. This is precisely the attitude of so many countries of the Third World to which this crazy Government wishes to annexe this nation. This Government says that it wishes to remove ANZUS as a military alliance. I wonder whether the Government would like to fight an election on that issue? The Prime Minister has no mandate to destroy ANZUS simply because the left wing and the Federal Executive of his Party tell him that that is what they want.
I return now to the visitors, the people who by implication must be regarded as Mr Whitlam’s guests in this country. I cannot pronounce their names; I will not attempt to do so. I refer to the editorial in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of Saturday, 28th April, which states in part:
For these men, praised by an Australian Cabinet Minister as the heroic defenders of a just cause brutally assailed by Australians and their allies, are not only representatives of those responsible for shooting down Australian soldiers. They are also representatives of those still prosecuting a ruthless war of aggression in Cambodia.
If honourable senators opposite do not believe that, they should ask the Honourable Gordon Bryant; he will enlighten them. The editorial continues:
They are representatives of those who have demonstrated that to them murder, torture, intimidation and extortion are ordinary instruments of policy. These are men with bloody hands.
Yet these are the men to whom the Federal Government
This ersatz Federal Government - . . gives an honoured welcome and gives, too, a platform in Australia to preach their totalitarian doctrines, spout their propaganda and traduce Australia’s allies. These are our new friends in Asia.
My quotation from editorial concludes: ‘These are our new friends in Asia’. The visit is a disgraceful one, but it fits in with the antiAmericanism which was so rampant in this country in early January. In a successful attempt to force the aggressors - North Vietnam - to the conference table, President Nixon enlarged the bombing area in North Vietnam. Does anybody think that the shabby peace, for what it is worth, would have been negotiated if it had not been for that bombing? But on that occasion there were vigorous outbursts by Mr Clyde Cameron, Mr Uren and Dr J. F. Cairns. Dr J. F. Cairns said that it was the most dreadful bombing in all history. What drivelling nonsense that is. Has he ever heard of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the British raid on Dresden and the raid on Cologne? There are innumerable places where far more people were killed.
I do not approve the actual killing of civilians if it can be avoided, but the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese have a habit of putting these people in the centre of military objectives. Even on communist figures, the fatalities numbered 2,300. If that is what these 3 distinguished Ministers think is the worst bombing episode in history, they should look at some of the newspaper files of recent times. This Government has been heard in support of naked aggression and terrorism if they are by a dictatorship of the left. My view is that it is a disgrace to the memory of Anzac that the North Vietnamese representatives should come to Australia on the day after Anzac Day. It is a strange thing that our troops fought alongside the troops of President Thieu in South Vietnam, but Mr Barnard has said that he will not have Thieu here because that might divide the community. What he means is that his left wing will not allow him to have Thieu here. Is it not extraordinary that a man with whom we are allied is not allowed into the country but 6 representatives of the enemy who are still, killing our allies are here as welcomed guests of the thing that passes in this country for a government?
The significant factor emerging from all this is the arrogance of this minority Government in rejecting so many of our former friends. The gesture to the Third World is significant. A discussion on this matter usually degenerates into an exercise in Yankee criticism or in abusing the Americans. The ALP left wants us to withdraw from all military treaties and become neutral - meaning, of course, neutral in favour of left wing outfits. It is not surprising that when Yugoslav’s Bijedic was here recently - some mention has been made. in . the .chamber from time to time of his visit - his Foreign Affairs Minister, aman called Petrie, said that Yugoslavia wanted to see . Australia non-aligned and a member of the Third World. It is no wonder that Yugoslavia wants us to join the Third World alliance. What hope would there be for the ANZUS Pact in such circumstances? The left wants to destroy the most valuable piece of paper in the Commonwealth^- the ANZUS Pact. I think it must now be generally accepted that this Government is so oleaginously adulatory of left totalitarianism that it is a disaster, and the sooner that it is removed the better.
– I think we have heard a rather tired old effort this .afternoon. Apparently the Opposition wants to re-fight the Vietnam war - an issue which was put to the Australian people at the election which was held last December, which gave the Australian people the opportunity to show that they supported overwhelmingly the. policy of the Australian Labor Party on the Vietnam war, conscription and diplomatic relations with the Government of North Vietnam, and to show, that they repudiated the previous: Government of which Senator Hannan, was a supporter. We have not heard anything new today. We have heard some recitations of what appeared in various newspapers which all of us would have been capable of reading had we bothered to take the trouble of doing so. We heard also some excerpts from articles by Dennis Warner. All of us, I think, are familiar with this matter. One might have hoped that had the Opposition wished to raise once again the question of the Vietnam war and our relations with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam we might have heard something a little’ fresher, something a little more original, than Senator Hannan has been able to give us this afternoon.
When one looks at the motion we are debating it appears to be a rather appalling drafting effort. One might have some difficulty in ascertaining precisely what it is about which the Opposition is complaining. The matter of urgency which the Opposition has referred to the Senate is:
The welcome and support for delegations from North Vietnam and the revolutionary Vietcong given by Dr Cairns, Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry in the Whitlam Government, and the recognition and condonation thereby given by the Whitlam Government to the North Vietnam aggression, and Vietcong terrorism.
I would like somebody on the Opposition side to explain precisely what the Opposition means when it talks about the recognition given to the North Vietnam aggression and Vietcong terrorism. What precisely is it that the Opposition is saying that this Government has done? Are members of the Opposition saying that we recognised that there had been North Vietnamese aggression and Vietcong terrorism? What is it that they are saying? The motion as it stands at the moment seems to mean precisely nothing. I also would appreciate some analysis by Senator Hannan of what exactly is meant by the word ‘terrorism’? Terrorism is a word used in a variety of contexts. 1 think that the first time the word terrorist’ was used-
– It was used by Senator Murphy.
– It was used during the American War of Independence, a branch of history which I am sure Senator Webster has not taken the trouble to study. It was during the American War of Independence that the word ‘terrorism’ was used, according to my recollection of my readings, about none other than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were accused of inciting terrorism in New York against the supporters of the British Crown. If one talks about terrorism one finds that it has very respectable antecedents in the first President of the United States of America. Senator McManus, with whom I disagree in most cases except upon matters relating to Ireland, said this afternoon that Michael Collins was a terrorist. I thought that Senator McManus said that with some pride. That is not a matter relating to the merits of Michael Collins with which I would want to disagree with Senator McManus, but if Senator McManus can use the word ‘terrorist’ with regard to Michael Collins to indicate some praiseworthiness on his part, I would be interested to know what precisely it is that is objected to in the so-called terrorism of the organisations of the Vietnamese people struggling for the independence and unity of their country. They are struggling in precisely the same way as Michael Collins and the Irish revolutionaries have been struggling for the independence and unity of their country for many centuries, and the same way as the people of the United States of America fought for their independence and unity not only at the time of the War of Independence but also at the time of the American Civil War.
As Senator Hannan has raised these matters and has gone back to the history of the war in Vietnam it is necessary to examine something of that history. Senator Hannan told us a rather garbled version of it. Before doing so I think I should refer to the precise terms of the motion. Apparently Senator Hannan and the other dignitaries who signed this rather poorly written letter, which all of us have received, are of the view that the Government should be subject to some condemnation because it has allowed, at the invitation of a private body, a group of delegates from the Government of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam to visit this country. First, let me say that Australia recognises the Government of North Vietnam. We are exchanging diplomatic representatives with that country. It is a country with which we have full diplomatic relations. It would be completely absurd for us to say that people representing that country should not be allowed to come into Australia. It is not as if this Government is doing something eccentric in recognising North Vietnam because that is done by an overwhelming majority of countries.
– How many of them?
– I do not know the precise number but it includes most western European countries at present. It includes France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, a number of countries which in any context are regarded as democratic. I merely point out that there is nothing extraordinary or unique about the Australian Government’s recognition of the Government of North Vietnam. The Australian Government does not recognise the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. My private opinion is that we should, and as far as I am concerned - I speak personally and on behalf of nobody else - ‘the sooner Australia does recognise the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, the sooner we will be acknowledging the reality as it exists within South Vietnam.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam was recognised as one of the negotiating parties in the recent Paris peace talks. In fact, if one looks at the accords signed in Paris one finds that there were 4 signatories - the representative of the Government of the United States of America, the representative of the Saigon Government, which is recognised by this Government as it was by the previous Government; the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. The Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam is acknowledged by the United States and the other parties to the Paris peace agreement, and the talks which preceded it, as a government existing in its own right, capable of signing the agreement as a government along with the Government of the United States. It already is recognised by 37 countries throughout the world. I know that Senator Webster will say that they are all Communist countries but 1 would like to disappoint him by telling him that there are not 37 countries which have Communist governments. There are considerably fewer than that. A great many countries, and a growing number of countries, recognise the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam.
Australia was involved in the war in Vietnam at the behest of the United States of America. No interests of Australia were served by our participation in that war but some 500 Australian conscripts were killed in that country while that war was being undertaken. If anyone claims that people on the. Government side who were opposed to the war are dishonouring the dead in some way if they support the peaceful resolution of the problems of Vietnam, I think it has to be said that if it had not been for the Opposition, acting against our advice, there would not have been any dead. We were opposed from the start to conscripting those young men and sending them to Vietnam. The blood of those young men does not lie upon the, head of the Australian Labor Party because from the very beginning we said that they should never have been sent to that country. As I believed at the time, and still believe now, it was a shameful thing that there were so many people of military age eligible for service in that war and so enthusiastic about the conflict being undertaken there, who sat in this Parliament and voted continuously to conscript young men to go off and be killed there while they remained in this Parliament and in Australia denouncing as traitors those people who were not prepared to conscript their fellow Australians to go there and be killed.
This matter should be mentioned again because I think it stands to the everlasting shame of the Opposition parties that they lent themselves to such a shabby manoeuvre which resulted in the deaths of these young Australians and the deaths of countless Vietnamese people. There has been some mention this afternoon of statements made by President Nixon and of how he is concerned because of present breaches of the ceasefire by North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government. It has been stated that President Nixon believes that he might have to engage in some additional bombing because of the disgraceful behaviour of the people in Vietnam.
I wonder whether the information which President Nixon is giving on this matter is just as reliable as the information he has been giving on the tapping of the headquarters of the Democratic Party national committee at the Watergate office in Washington. I wonder whether the advisers that he has had are just as reliable as his former AttorneyGeneral. I wonder whether Mr Haldeman and Mr Ehrlichman perhaps have been giving some advice about what has been going on in Vietnam. I wonder whether President Nixon is just as honest, just as frank, just as straightforward and just as unblemished as he is in all those matters relating to the concealment of criminals on his own staff and evading the course of justice within his own country.
I should think that anybody would be very reluctant to come into this Senate or anywhere else on this day and say that it must be right because President Nixon says so and President Nixon, like George Washington, has never told a lie. I would have the greatest reluctance in accepting anything that President Nixon or Mr Haldeman or Mr Ehrlichman or Mr Kleindienst or any of the others told me about anything - certainly about the Vietnam war. Why, we have only seen the revelation made a little while ago when President Nixon was announcing what great public support he had received for the rnining of Haiphong harbour and the bombing of Hanoi and that this had come from a flood of letters and telegrams into Washington. It now turns out that his own criminal associates were the people who were sending the telegrams and writing the letters, lt was not the American people at all. I would suggest that one should look very cautiously at anything which President Nixon or his associates have to tell us about any of these matters.
I remember a little while ago Senator Hannan referred to some bombing and said that this was very mild bombing, that it did not compare with some other things that have happened, that the bombing took place only in order to bring the North Vietnamese to the conference table and that if the bombing had not taken place the peace treaty would never have been signed. I know that one’s judgment on these matters probably is of necessity subjective, but I have an advantage over some members of the Senate in that I was in Hanoi very shortly after the bombing took place. I am very proud to have been in Hanoi. 1 am very honoured to have been invited to go to Hanoi. One of the things that I saw there-
– Marching down the streets with the corns.
– Yes, I was marching down the streets opposing conscription to Vietnam while Senator Webster was sitting safely here saying that people who would not go to Vietnam ought to go to gaol. We have seen what Senator Webster’s contribution was to the Vietnam war. lt was to conscript other people to go and to stay at home himself. That was his great contribution to the Vietnam war. I was in Hanoi shortly after the bombing took place. If I may say so, I find it interesting to note that although Senator Hannan was heard in silence, honourable senators opposite certainly want to take every care to see that I do not have an opportunity to speak this afternoon. But I mention that only in passing. They do not bother me, but I think it ought to be recorded that a constant barrage of noise and stupid interjections is coming from them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Senator Wheeldon will be heard in silence.
– I was in Hanoi shortly after the bombing took place and-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Deputy President, the Standing Orders provide that the senator who raises a matter of public importance and the Minister who replies should be allowed to speak for half an hour. But as Senator Wheeldon is not yet a Minister, I move:
– I take it that Senator Willesee would not insist thereafter that a Minister also had half an hour in which to speak.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I appreciate the courtesy of the Senate. As I was saying. 1 was in Hanoi shortly after the bombing took place, and the destruction which I saw with my own eyes in Hanoi and Haiphong was not merely incidental bombing. There was systematic carpet bombing of civilian areas in both Hanoi and Haiphong. The evidence was clear before one’s eyes that there was massive devastation of areas inhabited by civilians which could come about only as a result of the deliberate action of the United States Air Force in setting out to exterminate a civilian population. This was certainly not only my view; it was the view of those Western observers, diplomats and journalists who had been in Vietnam during the bombing itself.
The Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, which was virtually wiped out, was well known as a hospital. It was the largest hospital in Vietnam. It had been built by the French in 1932. Its location was well known- It was systematically detroyed by deliberate bombing by the United States Air Force. Anti-personnel bombs were used on the people of Haiphong, to the extent that Haiphong now has become a pioneer area in the field of brain surgery because of the fact that small particles are imbedded in the brains of the civilian people of Haiphong who had been subjected not to a military bombardment-
– What about-
– I know that Senator Gair is very concerned about the right to life, but he is not very concerned about the right to life of those people who are already alive and are being murdered. His right to life runs as far as the unborn child; it does not go as far as those people who are living. It is very interesting to see that he is quite unconcerned about the civilian population of Vietnam being deliberately murdered. In fact, one of the very distinguished Japanese journalists who was in Hanoi at the same time as I was there described the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong as a nuclear attack without nuclear weapons because-
Opposition senators - Oh!
– I know that some of the experts say that this is not so, and that in any case these people were only corns and it did not really matter; that they were unlike foetuses and it did not matter how many of them were killed. There was mass bombardment of these people and deliberate systematic mass murder of a civilian population. This is something which was recognised by every foreign diplomat in Vietnam at that time. There was not one dissenting voice from any Western journalist or diplomat or any neutral diplomat or journalist that what the United States had attempted in North Vietnam during the bombings of last December was the deliberate extermination of the civilian population in Hanoi and Haiphong. Why did the United States do it? The United States did it because it thought that by doing so - and this is what Senator Hannan, this other great Christian, thinks - this was the way in which to get people to sign the peace agreement. I was in Hanoi shortly before the Paris peace treaty was signed, and I was assured not only by officials of the North Vietnamese Government but also by diplomatic observers and journalists who were there, that if the bombing had had any effect at all it was almost to remove the possibility of a peace agreement ever being signed because the response of the Vietnamese people was one of complete abhorrence of what the United States of America was doing to them. It increased the dedication and resolve of those people to continue the struggle when they saw what had been done to them by the greatest military power in the world. This did not drive them to the conference table. It almost drove them away from it. They went back to the conference table only after the bombing had ceased.
– Oh, yes!
- Senator Greenwood thinks that the bombing was a good thing. It does not worry him that many thousands of people were killed by this bombing.
– Who were the aggressors?
– As Senator Gair asks me, in the first place the aggressor was the United States of America which deliberately breached the Geneva Agreement of 1954 which provided that there should be only a temporary territorial division between North and South Vietnam and that free elections should be held no later than 1956. It was the United States and its puppet Ngo Dinh Diem whose murder the Americans subsequently engineered who sabotaged-
– Who did that?
– Everybody recognises that. If Senator Little is not aware of the public knowledge of the role which the United States administration played in the murder of Ngo Dinh Diem then he must be one of the few people in the world who is not aware of it. The United States deliberately destroyed the effectiveness of the 1954 Geneva Agreement and engaged in aggression in support of Ngo Dinh Diem and his regime which it created. There was a great deal of talk about the Vietnamisation of South Vietnam. Did anyone ever hear any talk about the Vietnamisation of North Vietnam? Of course not. The overwhelming mass of tha North Vietnamese people supported their government in the same way as the overwhelming mass of the South Vietnamese people on their side opposed the Saigon government. Can anyone produce any evidence of one foreign soldier serving in Vietnam on the side of the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front? Of course they cannot. Yet hundreds of thousands of Americans and their allies fought in Vietnam. One knows now what the ultimate consequence will be. It is that Vietnam is going to be unified.
For a period Australia, under the previous Government, played a shabby role in that war. It is a role of which most Australians are ashamed. I believe that we will have to do much to restore ourselves in the eyes not only of the Vietnamese people but also of the great mass of Asian people and people throughout the world who were appalled that this country should play the role which it played in Vietnam. One of the great achievements of the Labor Government upon its election was immediately to abolish conscription and withdraw all forces from South Vietnam. If this Government never did another thing, that in itself would be a great achievement for which the people not only of Australia but also of the whole world should bo eternally grateful to Gough Whitlam and the Federal Labor Party. They should be grateful that we ceased to murder, destroy and intervene in Vietnam. At present there are delegates in Australia from the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and from the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Vietnam. They are not here as guests of the Australian Government but they are here with its permission. They are here with the support of many members and supporters of the Australian Labor Party. I am one of them. They are people with whom I am proud to be associated.
– Yes, I am very proud to be associated with them. I would far rather be associated with them than with the gaol birds who are surrounding Nixon. I am very honoured to be associated with these delegates because they are people who fought for the independence of their country in the most distressing and appalling situation that one can imagine. Vietnam is a small country. After more than 100 years of occupation by the French and 30 years occupation by the Japanese, these people were able to take on the United States virtually single handed. Very little material assistance was given from some other countries, compared with what ought to have been given and with what was given to the Government in Saigon. Yet they were able to defeat the greatest military power that the world has ever seen. Why did they do this? They did this because of the courage and the resolve of their people because of the knowledge of their people that their cause was a just cause and because many hundreds of thousands and millions of people throughout the world supported them in their struggle. I for one am proud that this delegation is now in Australia. I am proud to think that the Vietnamese people want to come to Australia after the way in which the previous Government behaved in relation to Vietnam. I am personally very honoured to be associated with them. I believe that the Senate should reject this ridiculous, moth-eaten, Red baiting, tired resolution which was moved this afternoon by Senator Hannan.
– I was delighted to support the motion that Senator Wheeldon should be granted an extension of time to enable him to speak for half an hour. I believe that for those listening and for those who will read this speech that is the best thing that could have happened because he disclosed - as he always does when he speaks on this subject - his true thoughts. I shall say only 3 things, because most of his speech deserves to be ignored and will be ignored. The People’s Revolutionary Government was never recognised as a government at the Vietnam peace talks by the United States of America. Senator Wheeldon used the word ‘government’ and I say that it was never recognised as a government. The second point is that the honourable senator trotted out the Geneva Convention. I do not want to get into a debate today although I will be happy to debate at any time who breached the Geneva Convention first.
– It was not the Geneva Convention. It was the Geneva Agreement.
– All right, the Geneva Agreement. Senator Wheeldon mentioned free elections in 1956. From 1954 to 1956 hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people voted with their feet by marching out of North Vietnam because they did not wish to live under communism. From 1954 to 1956 there was a purge in North Vietnam during which hundreds of thousands of people were murdered and tortured. My authority for that is General Giap, the Minister for Defence. He said it went too far and that too many innocent people were executed. He was not against the purge. Senator Wheeldon stands up and says that during that period we should have had free elections. In view of the purge, would anybody in North Vietnam who had the right to vote have been able to vote freely? Of course he would not and Senator Wheeldon knows that.
Let us come back to this motion. We know that the delegation from North Vietnam and the Vietcong is visiting Australia at the official invitation of the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) and some phoney peace group. We will soon prove that the group is phoney because it is not a peace group at all. Look at the situation which these people represent today, leaving aside for the moment South Vietnam and Laos. Let us examine Cambodia. This group is supposed to be interested in peace. If it is interested in peace, why does it not stop the acts of blatant aggression against Cambodia by the North Vietnamese? Some people argue, quite falsely, that the war in Vietnam is some sort of simple, civil war. But the war in Cambodia is not a civil war. It is a war of naked, blatant military aggression by North Vietnam. My authority for that is none other than the Honourable Gordon Bryant who, I think in 1970- Senator Young was on the delegation - was so upset that he sent a cable to the Australian Labor Party accusing the North Vietnamese of committing an act of military aggression against Cambodia.
– He is a
Minister at the present time.
– He is now a Minister. So there can be no argument on behalf of the Labor Party that this is a civil war. It is nothing more than a war of naked, blatant aggression. I should have thought that Dr Cairns and this phoney peace group, if they were interested in preventing the maiming and killing of people by North Vietnamese troops and those supporting them, would regard the present situation as a matter of grave concern. But no, there is not one word of condemnation of North Vietnam by Dr Cairns; not one word of condemnation of the indiscriminate shelling of villages, and of the capital itself, and the killing of the innocent civilians. There was not one word of condemnation by Senator Wheeldon, whose blood pressure reached dangerous levels when he was describing the situation in Hanoi and Haiphong, of the indiscriminate shelling, mortaring, killing and maiming of innocent people in Cambodia.
– Or Laos.
– Or Laos, if the honourable senator wishes to speak about that country. Senator Wheeldon spoke about Hanoi and Haiphong. Did he go to South Vietnam to see the results of the indiscriminate shelling and mortaring by the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong of villages and towns as well as hospitals? No, the honourable senator did not say one word of condemnation.
If ever the double standards and hypocrisy of the Labor Party were exposed, they are being exposed today. As I have said, there has been no condemnation by honourable senators opposite of what is taking place in Cambodia. What is more important, there has been no condemnation by Dr Cairns or by the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, whose silence on this matter compared with his verbosity on most issues is both monumental and significant. Has the Government protested to North Vietnam about the continued presence of North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia and the supplying of arms and materials to various communist groups in Cambodia? Again, there has not been one word. Has the Government protested about the situation in Phnom Penh where the people of that city were on the verge of starvation and where the communists were blockading the river and all other supply routes? We have not heard one word of condemnation from the Government. Therefore we must surely believe that here is a double standard. Here we are entertaining people whose country, on the admission of a leading member of the Labor Party, is unashamedly engaged in an act of naked, blatant military aggression against the small country of Cambodia. The policy of the Government is to establish relations with North Vietnam and to provide massive aid to enable that country to carry out further acts of aggression, presumably against Cambodia. There may be arguments that in dme diplomatic relations will be established with North Vietnam. But there can be no argument for establishing relations with a government which claims to stand for peace and decency and which continues to commit acts of aggression against the small harmless country of Cambodia.
– Come now, senator. How did the situation commence in Cambodia?
– The Honourable Gordon Bryant, who is a colleague of the honourable senator, will tell him. He has already told the Labor Party how it commenced. The plain facts are that Dr Cairns directly, and Mr Whitlam and the Labor Party indirectly, are not supporters of peace today; they are supporters of aggression.
It may be argued that Dr Cairns can act and say things privately, and that these can be distinguished from his ministerial responsibilities as a member of a government. I suggest that it is naive to believe that Ministers can make statements and perform actions which do not involve their government. Honourable senators will remember the crude vulgarity of the attacks which were made on the United States of America by 3 Ministers, one of whom was Dr Cairns. Those attacks were interpreted everywhere as being the policy or reflecting the views of the Australian Government.
– Yes, and that was correct.
– Well, I would have beer more impressed with their sincerity had they ; protested also to North Vietnam at the indiscriminate shelling and mortaring of South Vietnamese villages by the North Vietnamese. But we did not hear one word about the indiscriminate murdering and shelling of the people of Saigon. The very fact that Dr Cairns, presence and welcome to these groups was not challenged by the Prime Minister, gives us the right to assume that if the Prime Minister does not agree then he does not disagree with what Dr Cairns is doing. If that is so, then the Australian Government at least gives its tacit support to the actions of North Vietnam.
Let us examine the actions of North Vietnam since the ceasefire. Even Dr Kissinger, who seemed at one stage to be bemused by and believed the North Vietnamese, is now losing his patience and has threatened that the United States will have to take action. The North Vietnamese Government has persisted with a continued cynical and systematic violation of the ceasefire agreement. Once again the Ho Chi Minh trail has become the centre of a huge movement of personnel, arms and supplies of all kinds to reinforce an estimated 160,000 to 170,000 North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam. Does the Labo:r Party believe that these personnel and supplies, military and otherwise, are being sent to South Vietnam to maintain peace? If not, what are they for? The North Vietnamese have made clear their objective. Their aim is to win control of Indo-China. Senator Wheeldon today applauded this objective. He believes that it is only right that they should take this action. The North Vietnamese intend to achieve their aims not by approval or by whatever democratic means are available but by military force. Apparently Senator Wheeldon approves this action. Indeed, he said that he was proud to be associated with them; proud to be associated with a country which is murdering Laotians and Cambodians. Whatever might have been argued about Vietnam, the same arguments do not apply to Laos and Cambodia.
Nothing has been said or done by the Australian Government since the ceasefire to protest to North Vietnam. Nothing has been said or done by the North Vietnamese to indicate any weakening of their resolve. The continued aggression in Cambodia assumes sinister significance because one of the aims of North Vietnam is to reopen the port of Kompong
Som which is a vital link in that country’s effort to resupply its troops in the south of South Vietnam. Does that indicate peaceful intentions? The North Vietnamese - this is the real purpose of their visit to Australia - seek international support for their ‘ Objectives. They wish to weaken support for the Government of South Vietnam and for the United States. The sole purpose of the visit of the North Vietnamese, and the sole purpose of their sponsors, is to win once again in the psychological warfare in which they are so skilled. The sponsors of the visit are supporting military action that has resulted and will result in the death and destruction of thousands of innocent people. I know that the psychological warfare program adopted by the North Vietnamese has been very successful and that many decent people have fallen for their lies and deceit.
We have been told that Dr Cairns has proposed that we recognise the Vietcong and that Senator Wheeldon supports the recognition by Australia of the Vietcong. Senator Willesee said yesterday that there is no intention of the Government recognising the Vietcong at the present time. I remember that when Dr Cairns proposed the recognition of North Vietnam Mr Whitlam denied that the Government had any intention of doing this. He said that it was going too far but that we might well send a representative there so that we could work out and organise an aid program. Within a matter of days Mr Whitlam announced that the Australian Government intended to recognise North Vietnam. So what Dr Cairns says today, Mr Whitlam accepts tomorrow. There was a suggestion that President Thieu might visit Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.40 to 8 p.m.
– Tonight, being Wednesday night, the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, as they always are on Wednesday nights. So, we can expect that a motion dealing with some matter of Urgency, so-called in the parlance of the parliament, will be ‘ moved. Already, speakers in the debate have drawn attention to the very peculiar wording and drafting of the matter now before the Senate. Senator Hannah opened the debate for the
Opposition and his was the first signature on the motion calling the attention of the Parliament to the fact that this was a matter of very great urgency. All business of the Senate is suspended while this matter of urgency is debated. It is so urgent that of the 30 minutes of speaking time allocated to Senator Hannan he took only 17 minutes; and for about 14 minutes of his time his remarks had nothing to do with the motion. Senator Wheeldon, who must own a crystal ball, said that this debate would develop into the ageold Vietnam debate. That is precisely what it has turned out to be.
Before I continue my remarks, I want to point out some of the errors - I really cannot call them anything but deliberate misstatements - made by Senator Hannan. Firstly, he said that we have withdrawn civilian aid from Vietnam. There is no truth in that. It has been said several times. In fact, the figures show that in the last year of the previous Government $3.02m was spent on aid to Vietnam. Some of that amount would have been spent on military aid. This year, under the Labor Government, $5. 15m will be spent on civilian aid alone. I leave to the imagination of honourable senators how Senator Hannan, who prepared and moved this motion on behalf of the Opposition, could overlook, such a figure.
– Where is this to be spent?
– It is to be spent in South Vietnam alone. The amount to be spent is almost double what the previous Government spent, and its civilian aid was combined with military aid. We will spend that amount on civilian aid alone. Not only are we continuing the aid; we are expanding it. Secondly, Senator Hannan said that the Government has promised $78m worth of aid to North Vietnam. There is not one atom of truth in that. Thirdly, he said that Mr Barnard refused to accept a visit to Australia by the President of South Vietnam, Mr Thieu. Again, there is not one atom of truth in that.
– He doubted whether he should come.
– He did not doubt anything at all. The fact is that there has been no application from the South Vietnamese Government or any suggestion that President Thieu is to come to Australia. Senator Sim was just about to say that when unfortunately his time expired. Somebody writes such things in newspaper articles, and supposedly experienced politicians take up such statements and make these deliberate misstatements. It is bad enough when this is done in the field of domestic politics and the misstatements are thrown at the Government; but, when it is done in relation to other countries, it takes on a much more seriouscomplexion. Senator Sim said that there was a crude vulgarity about the attacks on the United States of America by some members of the Australian Government. He did not seem to think about his crude vulgarity when he attacked his own Government and said that the foreign policy of Australia was being run by 2 Manchester Jews. It seems to me that that statement involved a fair bit of crude vulgarity. Also, he tried to draw tha line and say that what somebody in Australia says damages our relationships with other countries. 1 have yet to learn from members of the previous Government that his statement created any difficulties overseas. I do not think that the Israelis were upset about it, and I do not think that the people in Manchester were upset about it either.
A fourth complete misstatement made by Senator Hannan - this is the subject of the socalled debate on a matter of urgency - was that there was an official delegation from the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. Of course, the honourable senator knows, as everybody else knows, that there is not one atom of truth in this. The delegation is completely unofficial. It consists of 3 persons from North Vietnam and 3 persons from the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. Both these groups represent the peace committees of their respective areas. They were invited to Australia by a private organisation known as the Peace Group of Australia. All 6 members of the delegation are travelling on North Vietnamese passports which are issued by a government that Australia recognises. An attempt has been made to blow up an allegation that they are travelling on Provisional Revolutionary Government passports. The fact is that they are not. They are travelling on passports of a government that we recognise.
As I said in answer to a question, 1 think yesterday, the members of this delegation have not been met by any Minister in the Australian Government in his official capacity. This would be done if the delegation were from the official government of a country that we recognise. It is a fact that Dr Cairns, who is a member of our Cabinet, has met this delegation. Senator Hannan made great play of the fact that a photograph was taken of Dr Cairns with the delegation. He said that this was a disgraceful photograph. I do not know about that. I have been photographed with members of the governments of communist countries who have come to Australia. I have seen those photographs. I did not feel uncomfortable about them. When I received the credentials of the delegate from the Government of the People’s Republic of China, I was acting on behalf of the Australian Government. I did not feel uncomfortable about that. The Australian people knew before the election that we would be recognising that Government. Therefore, on the election of the Labor Government, it was the will of the Australian people that this should happen. When I act in my capacity as a Minister of the Australian Government I do not feel embarrassed or upset. Is it disgraceful that I have been photographed with members’ of a communist government? I certainly do not think it. is.
We have this photograph of Dr Cairns talking to the members of the delegation. He is and has been for many years a part of the peace movement of Australia. He has not made any secrets of that. When, acting in that capacity, he meets these people and has a Press conference with them, a photograph of this occasion suddenly, in the view of Senator Hannan, becomes a disgraceful photograph.
– The peace movement and the corns are very close, aren’t they?
– The peace movement and the communists may be very close. But the fact is that the Communist Party of Australia is a legal body. It may be that Senator Gair does not like these people. He does not seem to like a lot of people. It may be that he does not agree with other political parties in Australia. But the fact is that this is a recognised political party in Australia. It is not a banned party. If people, however much we might disagree with them, want to join that political party and take part in its activities, how can it be made out that they should not be able to do this? Senator Gair says that the peace movement is close to the corns. I may say that a person is close to the Australian Democratic Labor Party and that is a disgrace.
– You’ were very close to the Movement, too, weren’t you?
– No, I was never close to the Movement.
– Yes, you were.
– Oh no, 1 was not.
– -Do not deny it now.
– I am denying it. To suggest, as the motion does, that a Minister meeting an unofficial delegation represents a condonation of terrorism is to make a mockery and a farce of the forms of the Parliament. Somebody meets an unofficial delegation from another country; honourable senators opposite say that therefore the Australian Government condones terrorism. Just how ridiculous can things get? The suggestion of condonation of terrorism-
– Do you deny that they have had the use of Commonwealth cars?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! Honourable senators Will cease interjecting.
– I sympathise ‘ with you, Mr Acting Deputy President, because the honourable senators who are causing all the trouble are from your Party.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! There was no need for the Minister to make that comment.’ I will keep order in the Senate.
– I hope that you do, Mr Acting Deputy President. This suggestion of condonation of terrorism is particularly offensive in relation to Dr Cairns ‘ because he is one man who has been renowned for his strong and consistent opposition to all forms of terrorism. It is all right for members of the Opposition to pick a name. It has been a technique of Opposition parties over the years to pick a name; any name at all Wm do. I can go back over a few years and give you a string of them. Of course, after those people are dead you are the first to rise in this Parliament and eulogise them.
The fact is that Dr Cairns, however much you may agree or disagree with his strong and forthright statements, has been consistently opposed to terrorism, violence and that type of thing for a very long time. It is alleged that Dr Cairns’ unofficial meeting with these people involves a recognition of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. Why did this not apply to the
Government of a few months ago? Do Opposition senators not remember? What nonsense is this. Mr Wentworth, who was a Minister in the last Government, time and again used to attend and be photographed - he made no secret of the fact- at functions of the Captive Nations Organisation with representatives of certain governments in exile of eastern European countries. Mr Wentworth’s attendance was never regarded as involving the previous Government in recognition of those governments in exile. Nobody ever suggested that because Mr Wentworth went to those functions and associated with these people - and that was his right - this would involve the previous Government in the activities of those governments in exile, if you like to put it that way.
This motion arises out of the incapacity of the mover and the Opposition to recognise that Vietnam is moving towards peace. When the Opposition loses that I do not know what it is going to talk about. The future of Vietnam depends on a reconciliation and adoption of a new outlook. Honourable senators opposite are failing to grasp the attitude of the Australian Government to world affairs. What members of the Opposition have been saying for so long is this: ‘We draw a Une across a map and those people on the other side are terrorists or baddies and all of us on this side are very good people. We are going to contain these people; we are not going to let them out’ Of course, the whole world is moving away from that attitude. This Government has grasped the realities of the situation and recognises that it must maintain and improve relations with the governments of both North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has promised aid to the whole of Vietnam, since the Australian Government recognises that an urgent need for aid and reconstruction exists in all parts of that war-ravaged country. We are not concerned with the ideology of governments or of any particular person because the first thing that aid will have to do in that country is to build hospitals for people who have been injured by bombing and who will spend the rest of their lives in hospitals which have been shattered by bombing. We are not concerned whether those countries have a right wing government, a left wing government or a central government. It is a humanitarian situation and that, in my book, is what aid is all about. We should not try to control the governments of those countries. We aim to build bridges between ‘people and to confirm and strengthen the peace we have at the moment and to give it. a chance to develop.
Members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, the Australian’ Country Party and the Liberal Party are fussed because at long last we look like getting peace in this area. We are no longer going to draw lines. Members of the Opposition are always accusing the Labor Party of “being out of touch with the United States’. The fact is that in submitting this resolution they display that they are completely out of : touch with the United States. At Paris the Americans have to deal with the PRG just as they did with South Vietnam and North Vietnam. Dr Kissinger realises this as a result pf his travels throughout the world. If we are not going to deal with the realities, with the exact situation, then we are not going to hold on to the peace which at long last we aTe: getting in this area.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I see that my time is starting to run out-. However, I say that naturally the Press has taken a special interest in the visit of this delegation because it is news and something to build up. Senator Hannan has relied on the more’ irresponsible parts of the Press in his attack which has of course been accompanied by the throbbbing music caused by the kicking of the communist can.
– Mr Acting Deputy President-
– The big guns are on now.
– The amateur soldier.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I tell you at the outset that these amateur interjectors who are likely to come in and create a bit of noise in the course of my limited remarks, would be well advised to keep out, as anyone who knows me would agree. I rise readily, Mr Acting Deputy President, to support this resolution.
– Poor old fellow.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Senator Poyser, I call you to order.
– I want to commend Senator Hannan for having given notice of this resolution and for having spoken to it in such an excellent manner. I think , the time is appropriate for public attention to be drawn to the Government’s attitude and to its sympathy for the communists of North Vietnam at this time when the Vietcong and the North Vietnam Communists have failed even to observe the terms of the agreement for a cease fire. They have come here with blood still on their hands as a result of killing Australian soldiers who were in Vietnam supporting the South Vietnamese to hold their country and to defend themselves from the intrusion and the invasion by communists from North Vietnam. Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner we heard a speech from Senator Wheeldon. If it is any satisfaction to him I must confess that I had looked forward to my dinner, having had a light lunch, but he created such a state of nausea in my outfit that I was not able to eat anything. We were given the usual treatment from Senator Wheeldon of a lot of noise but no substance, a lot of noise and no logic. He went to Hanoi, undoubtedly at the request and at the expense of the communist outfit in North Vietnam. He told us about the horrors of war - those inescapable, indispensable effects of bombing. Does he think - he attempted to create this impression in the minds of the people listening to him today - that all the war took place in North Vietnam, that all the casualties were in North Vietnam, and that the only place where there was any destruction was North Vietnam? Jack Kane and I - Senator Kane andI–
– That is belter.
– It does not make any difference. We went to Vietnam and were there for 10 days.
– The amateur soldiers.
– Yes, we went as soldiers. We were in the advance army of parliamentarians. I did not see the honourable senator there.
– I did not send 20-year- old kids there as you did.
– No. John Curtin sent them to the islands north of Queensland at 18 years of age. Nephews of mine were called up at 18 years of age. You talk about 20-year- old kids. In the last war 18-year olds were called up and were dispatched to Milne Bay and other theatres of war with very little training. (Government senators interjecting)
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Members of the Government are constantly interjecting. There is a running current of interjections.I ask honourable senators to desist.
-I will not discuss at any length the question of why we were involved in the Vietnam war. The fact remains that no one has ever been able to confirm or prove that South Vietnam invaded or attempted to invade North Vietnam. North Vietnam was the aggressor. A democratically elected government of the United States of America, which has always been condemned, went to the aid–
– Be quiet, you. Look after your discount store. The Government of the United States went to aid that country against the onslaught of the communists who were assisted by Red China and Russia. Yet these people of the Australian Labor Party who are supposed to be democrats and whoare allegedly anti-communist–
– Poor old fellow.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! I have drawn Senator Poyser’s attention to the fact that there has been a constant stream of interjections, particularly from the honourable senator. He is persisting in interjecting with some sort of slogan.I would ask the honourable senator to desist, otherwise he might invite the anger of the Chair.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President.I wish to point out to you that when I was speaking you did not take that attitude towards members of the Democratic Labor Party who interjected. I suggest to you that there was a constant barrage of interjections to which I did not object.I merely point out to you, Sir, that it does not do the dignity of this place any good if you are to insist on silence while one honourable senator is speaking and not insist on silence while other honourable senators are speaking.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Willesee,I note your observations. On two or three ocasions while you were speaking I called for silence, particularly from members of the Democratic Labor Party.
– Yes, but they did not take any notice.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
The interjections on that occasion were not as persistent, continuous or repetitive as they have been while Senator Gair has been speaking.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President, this afternoon we heard from Senator Gair a complete barrage of interjections while Senator Wheeldon was speaking. 1 thought at one stage he was-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Come to your point of order please, Senator.
– I am speaking m the point- of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Would you mind stating your point of order.
– I thought Senator Willesee rose to a point of order. I am speaking to that points of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Are you speaking to Senator Willesee’s point of order?
– That is right. I thought Senator Gair was breaking wind and i thought it was terribly rude of him to break wind in this chamber. But actually he was talking.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Poyser, will you kindly resume your seat. Senator Willesee rose to a point of order. He stated his point of order and I indicated the attitude of the Chair. 1 think that closes the debate on the point of order. If you wish to rise to another point of order that is your right, but you cannot take the same point of order.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I believe I have a right-
– 1 rise to a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Excuse me, Senator Kane. Senator Poyser, are you rising to another point of order?
– No, I am not.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTThen you are out of order.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I now rise to a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
You said you were not rising to another point of order.
– I am now rising to a point df order because 1 understand, as I have understood for many years, that any person in this chamber can talk to a point of order before the Chair has given a ruling. I have seen this practice followed on so many occasions that 1 thought I had the right to do so on this occasion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Senator Poyser, I have heard your point of order. Will you kindly resume your seat. Senator Willesee rose to a point of order. Nobody else had risen to that point of order and 1 gave my decision on it. That closes the matter because I have given my ruling on it. 1 call Senator Gair.
– In this regrettable war none of us can take up the stand that all the casualties, all the damage and all the bomb.ng took place in the North. When I was so rudely interrupted 1 was about to »ay that when Senator Kane and I were in South Vietnam and when we went out each day into the theatres of war we saw the effects of the raids of the Vietcong guerrillas. We saw how peasants had been robbed and raped and how they were left for dead. We saw the work of the guerrillas from North Vietnam. We visited hospitals in South Vietnam.
I have been left with an unpleasant and indelibly sad impression of what I saw there. I saw men, women and children without arms and without legs. In hospitals in South Vietnam I saw in single beds 2 patients who had lost limbs, sight and were suffereing from injuries. Yet our friends opposite who are so ardently supporting the corns all the time wherever they are tell us that all the casualties were in North Vietnam. Were not the people in the South entitled to defend themselves. The North Vietnamese had the help of the Red Chinese and the Russians, but apparently we should have just surrendered to the corns at all times and adopted Australian Labor Party policy. The United States of America and Australia later came to the aid of South Vietnam. They went to the aid of South Vietnam to save this little country from being overrun by the communists. Had we not gone in there the position in South-East Asia would have been infinitely worse than it is today. Anyone who has studied this issue will know that the old domino theory was real. Just prior to his death General Eisenhower said: ‘lt is as sure as day follows night’. The guerrillas were in Cambodia. Of course they were. Our friends, Senator Bishop and Mr Bryant, saw them entering Cambodia. So affected were they by the communist invasion of Cambodia that they sent to all of us lengthy and costly cables calling for arms.
– Why do you not tell us about the change in government?
– Does the honourable senator deny that Mr Bryant sent telegrams.
– No, I did not send any telegrams.
– Of course, he does not. The honourable senator is standing behind Mr Bryant because he has regard for some matters concerning himself.
– How would you know; you were not there. I was there 6 years before you.
– I received Mr Bryant’s telegram.
– I was there 6 years before you, so do not tell me what I did.
– Do you repudiate that Mr Bryant, who is now a Minister, sent the lengthy telegram calling for arms.
– Did you ever volunteer to go into the Services? Did you ever volunteer to fight in wars?
– Senator Bishop will not hurt me.
– Order! The Senate must come to order. The Senate does not do itself any good by indulging in this sort of behaviour. Honourable senators must be obedient to the rules, orders and laws of the Senate and I ask honourable senators to be obedient to the laws of the Senate.
– Mr President, may I draw your attention to the fact that during this debate-
– Are you taking a point of order, Senator Bishop? Senator Bishop - Yes, I am.
– What in the point of order?
– The point of order is that Senator Gair is directing his attention not to you or to the subject matter of the debate but to personalities. I simply wish you to draw his attention to the fact that he is not dealing with the subject matter under debate but is dealing with personal matters and personalities.
– Order! That is not a point of order. It is a simple matter in debate.
– I am called upon to refer to Mr Bryant, who is now the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and others who were in Cambodia at the time of the invasion. Anyone who has followed the events of this war knows, and knows very clearly, that the cora guerrillas were in Cambodia long before Senator Bishop and Mr Bryant were there. Such a person would know that the corns have occupied Laos for very many years. They have also been on the borders of Malaysia. When we were there those in authority informed us that the guerrillas were in those countries. This war which has caused so much sadness, sorrow and loss of life is something which we all hoped would never have occurred. What we are discussing tonight is the effect of the visit of a delegation from North Vietnam. That delegation came here and was received and entertained by the third ranking Minister of the Government of this country. It has been transported around this country in Commonwealth cars at the expense of the taxpayers of this country.
– You are talking rubbish.
– Well, the honourable senator will find out.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Oh, Mr President, I appeal-
– In view of the continuous interjections, 1 wish to move-
– Order! Are you taking a point of order, Senator Kane?
– In view of the continuous interjections, I wish to move that Senator Gair’s time be extended.
– For how long?
– Five minutes.
– Order! Earlier today, I recollect that Senator Willesee moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to allow Senator Wheeldon to continue his remarks.
– A different situation. A
– Order!I do not require your advice, Senator Poyser. It is therefore incumbent upon Senator Kane, if he wishes to obtain an extension of time for Senator Gair, to move for the suspension of Standing Orders to that effect.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Kane) proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Gair speaking for a further 5 minutes.
- Mr President, this motion is most unusual. The Standing Orders do not allow for a motion to extend speaking time on this basis. If there are interruptions in the course of a speech, the time consumed by those interruptions comes out of the time of the speaker.
– Yes, I am aware of that.
– But, because Senator Gair seems very personally involved in this matter, the Government offers no objection to the motion. I suggest that his speaking time continue until 8.35 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I may speak until 8.35 p.m. I have been robbed of another minute. The major part of this matter of urgency seeks to express disgust at a senior Minister of the Government entertaining these people who have the audacity and impudence to visit this country, no doubt at the invitation of somebody. Someone has said that they were invited privately. If they were invited privately, why is the Government put to the expense of entertaining them? Furthermore, are we not entitled to register a protest, having regard to the fact that more than 400 Australian men were killed in action in the Vietnam war and hundreds more were wounded and maimed in the service of this country? Hundreds of Australian familes were bereaved. Loved husbands, sons and brothers lost their lives in Vietnam. Yet, we find this new Labor Government welcoming these people and inviting them to join us, although they have failed to observe the terms of the ceasefire. Indeed, their record is rotten. They could not observe a 2-day truce in the course of this war.
– They are demanding aid for their country.
– Yes. They are crawling for financial aid. Why do they not get it from Red China and Russia, which are their allies? The visit of this delegation follows, after an interval of only a few months, the visit by a group of alleged unionists who came to this country from North Vietnam. They were invited here and we saw them being entertained. We saw them being embraced and actually kissed by leaders of unions. They were passionately kissed as brothers. We saw Jack Devereaux whom I know more intimately than does any other honourable senator - he is the top man of the Amalgamated Engineering Union–
– And a good trade unionist.
– Yes, he is a good trade unionist. He was the best anti-com grouper that we had in Queensland, when he was there. And let him deny that he was. When the Queensland State Government, of which I was a member, had on its hands a strike–
– I take an objection. Mr President.
– . . . at the Ipswich workshops–
– A point of order!
– . . . and when my Premier said to me–
– I must take an objection, Mr President.
– Order! An objection to what?
– To the statement concerning Mr Devereaux, who is a personal friend–
– Order! That is not a basis for a point of order.
– Yes, it is. It is offensive to me.
– Order! No point of order arises. Senator Georges, you will resume your seat.
– I insist, Mr President.
– You cannot insist against me.
– But if he makes a statement in that way–
– Order! Senator Georges, you will resume your seat.
– It is true and he cannot deny it.
– Order! Senator Georges, you will resume your seat. That is not a ground for taking a point of order. I call Senator Gair.
– But I would–
– Order! Senator Georges, will you please resume your sea t?
– At that time he would not have been known in the Labor movement.
– Wait a moment!
– There was a strike on, Mr President–
-I raise a point of order, Mr President.
– Order! You are concluding your speech, Senator Gair.
– I have a new point of order.
– Order! Look, Senator Georges, please resume your seat, and I will give you the opportunity to make a personal explanation when Senator Gair has finished his speech.
– A point of order!
– There is no point of order.
– A point of order, Mr President!
– What is your point of order?
– I think that Senator Georges is entitled at any stage of a speech–
– Order! Look, Senator Poyser, I have been very tolerant of your constant interjections.
– It is a pity you were not here this afternoon, Sir.
– Senator Poyser, you are using the device of taking points of order to interrupt the debate. Now, please resume your seat. Senator Gair, you will conclude your speech. Your time has expired.
– I was saying–
– A point of order!
– Order! Senator Gair, complete your speech.
– On a point of order. Mr President; I draw your attention to the fact that Senator Gair has exhausted his time.
– All right.I have been asking Senator Gair to resume his seat. The constant interjections on spurious points of order have robbed Senator Gair of his time. I now call Senator Mulvihill.
– What about my personal explanation?
– Order! Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– I not only claim to have been misrepresented but also claim that a personal friend of mine has been misrepresented, which makes the statement–
– Order! Senator Georges, you may call my attention to the misrepresentation of your friend at a later stage.
– all right.
– Do you claim to have been personally misrepresented?
– Yes,I do.
– I call Senator Georges.
- Mr President,I have been personally misrepresented by the statement made by Senator Gair that 1 was not known in the Labor Party at the time to which he was referring. That is personally offensive to me because at the time–
– Order! We are reaching the ludicrous stage. Senator Georges, do you say that Senator Gair is wrong? Is that what you say?
– I say that it is clearly wrong–
– You say that Senator Gair is wrong, do you?
– Very well. You will resume your seat, Senator Georges. Senator Georges says that you are wrong, Senator Gair.
– I have the right to reply, have I not? I will pick up a bit of time.
– Order! No, you have not. I call Senator Mulvihill.
– I enter this debate on behalf of the
Government. 1 rise to support largely the submissions which have been made by Senator Wheeldon and Senator Willesee. I thought that when Senator Hannan developed the theme of his motion the ambit of the discussion was extended to include virtually the foreign policy of the Australian Labor Party. The question of our relations with Vietnam, be it North or South, was the central theme of this debate. But, when we take into account the references made by Senator Gair in his speech and we talk about the tragedy of Vietnam, we see that what we are really talking about in this debate is the conflict that occurred in Vietnam. Whether we think of a maimed person in Saigon or in Hanoi, I regret that this war ever occurred. To me, the reason why it did occur is that in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America a change in foreign policy occurred.
If one thing stands out from the 1950s into the 1960s, it is the futility of the foreign policy of John Foster Dulles. There is no question about that. If we make a comparison between John Foster Dulles and the statesmanlike attitude of Prime Minister Attlee of Great Britain, Prime Minister Chifley of Australia, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Evatt, and Peter Fraser of New Zealand and if we consider the relatively bloodless development of India, Pakistan and even Ceylon and the internal conflict in Indonesia, we recognise that none of those struggles was prolonged in any way, as was the struggle in Indo-China. As a matter of fact, we can draw a comparison between what Senator Murphy did in another field a very short time ago and what a courageous Australian government in the 1950s might have done in relation to the French government. A courageous Australian government in the 1950s might have suggested to the then French government that if some degree of flexibility in its foreign policy had been allowed there would have been a normal ushering-in of nationhood in IndoChina, as we know it now. The tragedy is that Australia did not protest to the French. I say that, as a socialist, Socialist governments in Britain, Australia and New Zealand were able to do something about post-war world peace. For some reason best known to themselves, successive French governments refused to allow genuine reform.
Reference was made to the early rule of Ho Chi Minh and other leaders in that area of Asia. They were utilised by the Western powers to oppose Japanese expansion. They were our allies then. If they had got their justifiable reward - independence for their countries - we would not have had these subsequent events. Last night I spoke about Bao Dai and about people who were parasites and who were propped up. Tonight Senator Gair referred to President Eisenhower. He did not get sucked in to the extent of putting land troops into Vietnam. One of the reasons why he did not was that he had a very effective general in charge of the United States Army who had been the GOC in Korea after General MacArthur. I refer to Matthew Ridgway. I challenge any of the so-called strategists in the Opposition to deny that Ridgway foreshadowed what would happen if we got into this bottomless pit. I am not being unduly critical of what happened, but I remind the strategists opposite that creation of a united Vietnam was just not on. With the components which made up Vietnam, unification was not possible. The people who attempted to create a united Vietnam included General Maxwell Taylor, Ellsworth Bunker and Robert McNamara. Whatever one may think of their political labels, they had made their marks in other realms of politics. It is quite obvious that, with the various elements which made up Vietnam, unification was not likely.
Honourable senators opposite have taunted us about providing aid to Vietnam. I have always feared that unless we had the capacity to feed the rehabiliation funds to the peasants in some of those countries they would never get stability. Opposition speakers may ask why the hamlet program went wrong. I would say that the answer goes back to Diem’s regime and its incapacity to deal with the greedy merchant class, the corrupt people and certain army commanders. Honourable senators opposite may say: ‘So what? What about the insurgency from the North?’ The. onus was on us, with a new society, to prove that it could work. If it was good enough for Lee to create that society in Singapore and to merit the provision of aid, as far as I was concerned it was good enough to provide aid to Vietnam. ‘ Breaches of the ceasefire agreement have occurred. Both sides have made certain claims about the breaches. Senator Gair would know that people in the various denominational younger groups in Sydney and Melbourne have, petitioned Senator Brown and myself seeking to reform the Saigon society from within. We could call these people the third force. They argued: ‘We will make a more viable, society in Saigon. We will resist the North.’ But the people who were running Saigon were doing so well out of their corrupt practices that they gaoled people who opposed them. This was one of the failures of our society. We cannot turn back the clock.
By welcoming the North Vietnamese delegation, we are being realists. Honourable senators opposite say that we are fraternising with the enemy. Do they realise that in the 1950s a Conservative Prime Minister in Britain, Mr MacMillan, welcomed Bulganin and Khrushchev, and nobody in Britain kicked out the Conservative Government because those people visited London. They were accepted. That did not mean that the Conservatives embraced the theories of Marx. It meant that the Conservatives recognised them as the leaders of another power. The greatest shock that the Opposition got was when President Nixon, the man whom they regarded as the champion of anti-communism, realised that he had to defuse the situation in South East Asia and reduce the number of fatalities among Gls. He did not worry about the ideological conflicts. He was thinking of reducing the number of casualties. That is why his envoy went to Peking and why he went to Moscow. It was political realism. There was a simple reason.
When our Prime Minister went to Indonesia some honourable senators opposite taunted him and said that he did not get all bis own way. Of course he did not, but he had a dialogue with that country. That is the theme which we are trying to project. Our people do not have a closed mind. We are prepared to talk to these people. Senator Gair always advances the theory of backing the colonial powers. He should look at what happened in Morocco and Algeria. There was a time in the United States when one lone senator, who later became an illustrious President, Senator J. P. Kennedy, advocated that the United States should prevail upon France to some degree to recognise Algeria. What happened there? There was the OAS, and there were atrocities on both sides. Finally, the people who represented the Algerian nation had to be received in Paris. They came down the boulevards of Paris, and they had to be met. The North Vietnamese delegation which is visiting Australia is in a similar position.
Honourable senators opposite can whinge about who will be in the new coalition government in Vietnam, but whether they like it or not what will ultimately happen is this: Because of the diplomatic area in which that government will operate, it will play Peking against Moscow. If it can get aid from Australia and the United States, it will. The aid that we put into those countries will be far better if we gradually reduce the number of casualties.
AH these things are inclined to be rather unpalatable to members of the Opposition. I leave them on this note: They cannot run a foreign policy with the blinkers of ideology. I say that particularly to the Country Party members who, because of their problems in relation to the sale of wheat, tried to take a one-eyed attitude about relations with China. I leave them with a final thought. This idea of being with the United States, right or wrong, cannot work. The previous Government took a particular stance. The United States was tough with it on meat quotas. We took an independent attitude. The United States was realistic enough not to apply sanctions to us in relation to meat quotas. We are getting a bigger sale of meat than the previous Government did. I am not sneering at honourable senators opposite because of that, 1 am giving them a pragmatic example. We have to decide what is good for Australia. Never mind whom we offend. That has been the approach of the Prime Minister. That attitude has been spelt out tonight by Senator Wheeldon and Senator Willesee, and it will be spelt out by succeeding Government speakers.
– I listened with interest to Senator Mulvihill. I think he ignored one vital factor, that is, that peace in the world can be secured only if peace loving countries are prepared to unite and resist aggression where it occurs. That was the basis upon which people of the United States of America, people of Australia, people of New Zealand and people of virtually every community in South East Asia were prepared to go to the support of a beleaguered South Vietnam to resist aggression. 1 will believe and I will fight for that. If we are able to resist aggression we should be prepared to utilise our forces to do so. What is the motion which we are debating? It is a motion to enable us to discuss a matter of urgency. The matter of urgency is:
The welcome and support for delegations from North Vietnam and the revolutionary Vietcong given by Dr J. F. Cairns, Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry in the Whitlam Government, and the recognition and condonation thereby given by the Whitlam Government to the North Vietnam aggression and Vietcong terrorism.
That sentence reveals the attitudes, sympathies and policies of the Whitlam Government. The fact that Dr J. F. Cairns, together with a host of other members and supporters of the Australian Labor Party Government, is prepared to fete in this country - as I understand it, even in Parliament House tonight - these people who have so recently the blood of Australians on their hands is, to me, indicative of where this country is heading. Against our inclination, without our approval and by a policy of deception and subterfuge, supported by a practice of secrecy, half truths and prevarication the Australian people are being drawn into a communist orbit- We are being brought into the world of those who practise totalitarianism, those who believe in the lie as a weapon of government and those would deny freedom to those would dissent.
This is what is happening to us as a nation which cherishes its freedom and which I believe is the freest country in the world. Without the Australian people being informed of what is happening, we are being taken into the world of the communists by a Labor Government which is influenced by persons who know full well the intentions and the objectives they want the Labor Government to pursue. I say that this is happening against our inclination because we are not a communist nation. We believe fervently in the freedom and the principles which have made this country great, and that is the antithesis of communism. I say that this is happening without our approval because the Australian people have never been given any opportunity to vote on these issues. They never will be given that opportunity by the Australian Labor Party because the members of that Party know how the people of this country would vote. I say that this is happening by deception because under the guise, the socalled stance, of greater independence we are moving out of the alliances and friendships that we have had with the democratic countries. We are moving away from Britain; we are moving away from the United States of America; we are moving away from France; we are moving away from all the basically democratic countries. Now we find that our friends are Communist China, North Vietnam, Communist Yugoslavia and a host of other countries.
There is secrecy. We are not being told the facts of what happened. We have not been told how the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in fact was rebuffed in Samoa. Instead we have people who will write favourably about him, suggesting that he had a great triumph at the South West Pacific forum. We are not being told why the Yugoslav Prime Minister came here because there is some unrevealed secret objective which this Government has in mind. I say that there is subterfuge because all of this is being hidden and not disclosed to the Australian people. I say that there is half truth. I cite, as the example, the Labor Party policy and the statements made shortly after the election by Mr Whitlam that what Australia was concerned about was simply to secure peace in Vietnam. It is quite clear that what the Labor Party Government and its supporters really are looking for is not peace in Vietnam but victory for the Vietcong and victory for the North Vietnamese aggressors. 1 say that all this is coloured by prevarication because when we ask questions in this House - the same situation is apparent in the House of Representatives when one reads the Hansard report of questions asked there - the members of Parliament entitled to get the answers are being given anything but the truth because it is a smart thing for an arrogant Prime Minister to conceal from members of the Parliament his real intentions and purposes.
This, Mr Deputy President, is the background upon which this motion is put forward. One of the photographs which will go down in the history of this country is the photograph of a confident, complacent and self-satined Dr Cairns seated in the centre of a group of North Vietnamese and Vietcong delegates who came to this country when we were commemorating Anzac Day. I know, and I think all honourable senators know, that in our political past there are certain photographs which always have been remembered. One is the photograph of 2 burly Russian guards taking a Mrs Petrov to an aircraft in Darwin. Who forgets that photograph? Another photograph is of Mr Calwell and Mr Whitlam waiting outside the Hotel Kingston in Canberra to get their riding instructions from the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party. One of the photographs which will be linked with those is the photograph of Dr Cairns presiding over the communist delegation from North Vietnam.
Of course, it is thought that Mr Whitlam is in control of his Government but he is not prepared to do now what he was prepared to do in 1970. 1 have here Press cuttings from Australian newspapers published in August 1970. In August 1970 Mr Whitlam-
– Mr Deputy President, I rise to a point of order. I suggest that you call this chamber to order, lt is disgraceful to see honourable senators carrying on like this.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Senator Negus, I appreciate your assistance. I think it is true that the Senate is not doing justice to itself. The Senate proceedings are being broadcast tonight. Honourable senators should remember that the Australian public will judge the performance of this Parliament by what it hears. Some members of the Senate are doing less than justice to their position as representatives of the people. I SUggest that the number of interjections be reduced.
– I thank you, Mr Deputy President. Members of the Australian Labor Party have tried to drown me out in thi past, but I assure them that they will not succeed tonight any more than they have in the past. In 1970 Mr Whitiam was prepared to denounce Dr Cairns because of an invitation which be had then extended to Vietcong members to visit Australia. That, of course, was when the Labor Party was trying to become the Government. When it is the Government the real power is disclosed. Now, if Dr Cairns, Senator Wheeldon and the host of left wing members who control the Australian Labor Party want to invite the Vietcong and want to ally themselves with the communist nations, they have the power and the influence to overrule Mr Whitlam and ensure that that is what occurs.
What have we seen this year? We have seen the policy enunciated by the Whitlam Government. Firstly, Australia withdrew the handful of Army advisers whom we had left in South Vietnam in an endeavour to assist the South Vietnamese Government to resist aggression; then Australia withdrew all medical aid to South Vietnam and Cambodia; then Australia said that it would not even give to Cambodia the 2 DC3 aircraft which the previous Government had promised; then Aus tralia said that there would be no military aid whatsoever to this part of the world; then the Austraiian Government went further and recognised the Government of North Vietnam. Now it indicates, although of course it does not refuse, that if President Thieu of South Vietnam wants to come here to acknowledge with appreciation what the people of Australia have given to him, he will not be welcome. This is the way in which Australian’s policy is now being fashioned.
Early this year when the bombing of North Vietnam was taking place - that bombing was the real cause of the North Vietnamese ultimately coming to the conference table - Dr Cairns, Mr Uren and Mr Cameron were condemning President Nixon and the Government of the United States of America. What did Mr Whitlam do? He remained fashionably silent, as he can on occasions, and then he said afterwards that he would be the only person to make statements on foreign policy. But did that shut up Dr Cairns? Of course not. Did that show Mr Whitlands authority? Of course it did not. Within 6 days of that statement having been made, we heard an assurance from Dr Cairns. The following appears in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’:
The Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, said tonight the North Vietnamese had accepted an invitation from the Australian Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament for a delegation to visit Australia. The delegation wanted to talk here about oppositon to the war and the US bombing of North Vietnam.
Thai is the delegation which is now in Australia and which Dr Cairns sponsored in January. In April this year, when talking about the same delegation, he confirmed that the delegation would be coming to try to win support in the new struggle for control of South Vietnam. Of course, we have not heard one word from Mr Whitlam in condemnation of what Dr Cairns said nor of the alignment which he has demonstrated in regard lo our foreign relations by the indication he has given.
Finally we saw this grand photograph spread across, I think, the front page of the Australian’ last Friday which indicated how self-satisfied Dr Cairns was about the way in which the policies which he has been espousing for years arc ultimately coming to fruition. Where does this leave the people of Australia? We are powerless, unless there are people who are prepared to speak up and say what is happening, to resist this movement which the Labor Party is sponsoring to take us into the communist camp to which we have no wish to adhere.
Of course, we cannot expect any help from Mr Whitlam because he received another trade union delegation here earlier this year. I have a document from one of Australia’s largest trade unions. It is now the amalgamated Metal Workers Union. The journal of the then Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society has a front page which states: A day that will live in history*. The journal decides how they feted the alleged trade union delegation which came from North Vietnam in January and February of this year - a delegation which was sponsored by Mr Carmichael, Mr Halfpenny, Mr Bill and Mr Clancy, all the notorious and well known communists of this country supported, of course, by Senator Wheeldon and Dr Cairns. Of course, this is not revealed by the Press of this country to the Australian people, but it ought to be because it indicates the real alignment and association which are involved in this activity.
The fact is that Dr Cairns is the third ranking member of this Government. He is the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry. He is one of the leading members of the Australian Labor Party. What he does be cannot seek to avoid because he says he does it in some private capacity. He is never written up in his private capacity. Reference always is made to Dr Cairns, the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Minister for Secondary Industry. That is the way in which the overseas Press will record and photograph what he does in this country. Overseas it will be regarded as having the imprimatur of the Government when he receives these communist delegations from North Vietnam. What we have at the present time is a conflict in Vietnam. People have said that the bombing was terrible. Of course it was. But never let it be forgotten that the first aggression in Vietnam occurred from North Vietnam.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senators time has expired.
– Mr Deputy President, I rise tonight briefly to support honourable senators on this side of the chamber in speaking against this rather poorly worded matter of public importance which has been raised by honourable senators opposite. Quite frankly, I believe that the raising of this matter is just another red herring to delay further the passage of Government legislation through this Parliament. This Government legislation is badly needed and was supported by the Australian people. Further, the raising of this matter of public importance is an attempt to give some status to some of the greatest fascist despots that this world has seen, and I am speaking of the leader of juntas of South Vietnam over the last 20 years. When I refer to the Government’s legislation, if my arithmetic is correct, there are approximately 14 items of Government business on the notice paper. The community is looking forward to the introduction of these items of Government business which we are pledged to give it, but time is running out. So let us not carry on all night with this nonsense. But now that honourable senators opposite have raised this matter of public importance, we are quite happy to debate it with them.
Senator Gair referred to John Curtin’s conscription. As one of Curtin’s conscripts of 1942 - I was 18 years old - I am quite proud to welcome these people to this country, and I make no bones about it. I had dinner with them tonight.
– Here in Parliament House?
– I had dinner with these people tonight in Parliament House. I say that I am proud to have had dinner with them because J believe that they represent the aspirations of the people in Vietnam. It is all very well for honourable senators opposite, including Senator Webster and Senator Greenwood, who have never had on a uniform in their lives, who do not know what it is all about and who have never fought for the aspirations of their country on the battlefields of the world-
– Mr Deputy President, I ask for a withdrawal of that remark because I have had on a uniform in my life. I ask Senator Primmer to withdraw that remark and apologise.
– A Salvation Army uniform?
– You would not know. You were locked up for being a security risk. Senator Cavanagh.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– Mr Deputy President, on a point of order I ask for that remark to be withdrawn and for an apology to be made.
– Mr Deputy President, on the point of order-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I am addressing myself now to Senator Primmer. Senator Primmer, you have heard the request for that remark to be withdrawn.
– Mr Deputy President, before you ask Senator Primmer to withdraw that remark, I think that whether there is justification in the point of order-
– This is the man who was a security risk raising a point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Cavanagh, are you raising a point of order?
– Mr Deputy President, I am speaking on a point of order. I think that before you ask for a withdrawal, Senator Webster should indentify the uniform. Clowns have worn uniforms.
– Mr Deputy President, if what I have said is offensive to the honourable senator I have no compunction about withdrawing the remark. Earlier this evening Senator Sim made remarks about stories that we have heard about Vietnam since 1954, and he referred to one of the great propaganda stories that was told about the thousands of people who were alleged to have voted with their feet by marching from the North to the South. He also referred to a further allegation that some hundreds of thousands - up to 500,000 - executions were carried out in North Vietnam, basically because of North Vietnam’s land reform policy. It is rather interesting to note that Senator Sim is not up to date with his information because in the National Times’ of 5th March 1973 Alex Carey, a senior lecturer in Psychology of International Relations at the University of New South Wales, who obviously has carried out some research into the matter, exposed these 2 propaganda stories for the fallacies that they are. He said:
In 1954 the United States had already invested 2.3 billion dollars in assisting the French to fight Ho Chi Minh because John Foster Dulles believed (and said) that the extension of Communist control to all of Vietnam, whether by elections or any other means, would endanger the entire ‘Free World’.
In consequence Dulles was faced, in 1954, with two colossal propaganda . . . problems: to win Vietnamese support for an anti-communist, antiVietMinh leader (Ngo Dinh Diem) who had taken no part in the struggle against the French; and to win international support for Dulles’ plan to establish the southern half of Vietnam - in clear violation of the provisions of the Geneva Agreements - as an independent anti-communist State.
The first project in this campaign was to draw as many Catholics as possible from North Vietnam in order both to provide a minimal political base for Diem and to influence world opinion against the North.
Bernard Fall has described the outcome: ‘The mass flight was admittedly the result of an extremely intensive, well-conducted, and in terms of its objective, very successful American psychological warfare operation. Propaganda slogans and leaflets appealed to the devout Catholics wilh such themes as “Christ had gone to the South”, and the “Virgin Mary has departed from the North”.
Whole bishoprics . . . packed up, lock slock and barrel, from the bishops to almost the last village priest and faithful . . . Although 65 per cent of the total Catholic population left North Vietnam . . . more than 99.5 per cent of the nonCatholics stayed put . . .’
Tn mid-1955 Diem stepped up his campaign to suppress all real or imagined political opposition, with the result that the movement of refugees went into reverse and more people (including recent ‘refugees’ from the North) sought to go North than to go South. Thereupon Diem,-
I ask honourable senators to note this - not Hanoi, sealed the border against further free movement. But that sequence of events has not received wide publicity.
Further, Alex Carey exposes the propaganda about the alleged massacre of hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese because of the North Vietnamese land reform program. He said:
A recent study of Saigon archives conducted from Cornell University concludes that the massacre is a myth and ‘the result of a deliberate propaganda campaign by the South Vietnamese and United States Governments’ (‘The Myth of the Bloodbath,’ published by the International Relations of East Asia Project. Cornell University, 1972).
Senator Hannan claimed in his earlier remarks that we on this side of the chamber wanted to condemn the Americans. For any student of Vietnam the fact of the matter is that the Americans are condemned out of their own mouths. It seems strange that honourable senators opposite should want to stand up and defend their once great and powerful ally in view of the current day by day revelations about the highest office of that country at the present time. 1 have said that the Americans are condemned out of their own mouths. I shall read at some length from a book entitled ‘Conversations With Americans’ by Mark Lane. Some honourable senators may well recall that he was the author of a rather controversial book entitled
Rush to Judgment’ which was written after the Kennedy assassination. I think that any of us who have read the book may well be of the opinion - as I am - that we have not heard the whole truth about the assassination of President Kennedy. Mark Lane, in the introduction to his book in part states:
First, as Americans we have been educated to believe that while the enemy quite regularly violates the codes governing the waging of war, we do not. If we are now to surrender that concept of ourselves to explain our conduct in Vietnam in relation to the acts of the enemy, we must surrender as well the rhetoric which in the past we have employed to distinguish our cause from theirs.
Moreover, in certain wars both sides do not, cannot, engage equally in widespread atrocities. The obliteration of a village may be in the interest of one side only. Nowhere is that more obvious than in Vietnam. The concept of guerilla warfare requires that the insurgent forces become one with the population upon whom they rely for support, food, intelligence and cover. Mao wrote it, and in Vietnam the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) perfected it. The United States Armed Forces understand the concept well, as Mao on guerrilla warfare is required reading at the Pentagon and is the bible of the Green Berets. No doubt selective executions for the purpose of eliminating opponents particularly influential ones in the villages, are part of the theoretical and practical operations of the NLF and the NVA. But since these organizations can prevail, indeed exist, only with the support of the people of the country, mass terror practiced against the villagers would be self-defeating. If they were to decimate a village or participate in the widespread elimination of villagers their crime would not be murder; it would be suicide.
The book from whichI am reading contains a series of articles given to the author by American troops who served in Vietnam, either after they had been discharged from the army when they went back to the United Stales or after they had absconded from the army and had been located in Sweden. Lane, at the end of his introduction states:
The transcripts in which each person is identified have been delivered to a prominent New York attorney who was formerly counsel for the United Stales Department of Justice.
Should the responsible agencies of government wish to investigate the charges contained in the following statements, the relevant information is accessible to them.
As an aside let me say that this is far from being a book for squeamish people to read. It shows the length to which the militaryindustrial complex of America went to bastardise their army. We have heard stories of bastardisation in the Australian army but they pale into insignificance when compared with the type of treatment and indoctrination which was handed out to American troops. In one instance a young man under questioning was asked:
Q: Were you ever given training in interrogation of enemy prisoners?
A: At all of the bases. But during the last month, when I was being prepared for imminent shipment to Vietnam, we got a lot of it. We were told there how to torture prisoners.
Q: Who gave you those instructions?
A: Mostly the sergeants. But some officers also participated. Lieutenants and sometimes the captain.
Q: What were you told to do?
A: To torture prisoners.
A: It was very extensive. Many methods were described and advocated.
Q: Such as?
A: Removing a person’s shoes and beating him or her on the soles of the feet. . . .
Q: What other methods were taught? . . .
A: I’ve been trying to forget for the past year.
Q: What other methods were taught? Can you give me one more example?
A: We were toldto make use of electrical radio equipment. We were told to attach the electrodes to the genitals.
In the time left to meI shall read a further extract from the book:
Q: Have you ever been given an order that you were to take no prisoners?
A: Yes, I have.
Q: By whom?
A: The lieutenant. . . .
Q: On more than one occasion?
Q: And what happened then?
A: We didn’t take any prisoners.
What does that mean?
A: We killed everybody we caught.
A: Wounded too.
Q: Were killed?
Q: How were they killed?
A: Forty-fives,M -16. machine guns, stabbed them with bayonets.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– When the Australian Labor Party came to power in December 1972 it was imagined by the people of Australia that there would be some change in foreign policy and in attitudes throughout the world because of the new Australian Government. I do not think there was anything in the attitude presented by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) or by those who prior to December 1972 appeared likely to be Ministers which indicated the way in which they would direct Australia’s overseas relations in the future.
One may recall that those who were perhaps of the left wing in the Labor Party were conspicuous by their absence. We well recall that Dr J. F. Cairns was not at ali noticeable during the period prior to the elections and, indeed, the communist unions were quiet at the time flowing on to the December election. We do know that the 2 per cent or 3 per cent of the people who swung to vote for Mr Whitlam and replaced the anti-socialist Government with a socialist Government were impressed - as I am - with the very fine stature of Mr Whitlam and his excellent presentation. There was some doubt as to whether the change would be so very great if Australia were to have a Labor government.
Comments were made to me by many people that governments come and go but the policies do. not change very much. This was repeated by many people. Let us take one instance. Mr Whitlam stated: ‘Our mandate and duty is to maintain the American alliance. This we will do’. 1 think that has some relationship with the thinking of the Opposition at this time in relation to the urgency motion which has been moved. Probably the culmination of this is in the sickness which we feel is permeating the Government and some of its members at the present time as demonstrated by the apparent welcome and support for the communist delegation from North Vietnam which is visiting Australia. I did not imagine that that would come about. It sickened me to see the picture of Dr J. F. Cairns, our Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry, proudly photographed in a subservient attitude under the picture of Ho Chi Minh. I think that is a sickening matter. Whether Australians will accept that that is the situation perhaps will be proved only in the future.
If people do not know now I believe they will know shortly that our internal economy, as has been exhibited by our attitude externally and in our foreign relations, is being guided by this Labor Party in government which in turn is being guided by a very very strong left wing influence which I would brand as a communist influence. This is subrevise and I think we will see our economy decline within a short period as a result of it. The unions have no hesitation in dragging industry to its knees. Indeed, there have been more strikes during the time that this Labor Government has been in power than at any other period under a previous government. I believe that this well demonstrates what we may be in for in this country. But our external attitude is probably the core of the matter.
The Opposition has moved that the following subject be discussed as a matter of urgency: The welcome and support for delegations from North Vietnam and the Revolutionary Vietcong given by Dr Cairns, Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry in the Whitlam Government, and the recognition and condonation thereby given by the Whitlam Government to the North Vietnam aggression and Vietcong terrorism.
That this Government welcomes these people was instanced by Senator Greenwood’s comment that 2 years ago Mr Whitlam was ready to castigate Dr Cairns for his attitudes but that this is not the case today. It seems that the harmony of government must not be disturbed. The need for the factions within the Labor Party - those in the right wing and those in the left wing - to retain their position is seen by the fact that the right wing will not argue no matter how far it is taken by the left wing. So we find that the Government is providing Commonwealth cars to take this delegation around Australia. Senator Primmer and others were willing to welcome and fete this communist delegation in Parliament House this evening despite the fact that the Parliament was giving a welcome to a Commonwealth parliamentary delegation from New Zealand. This situation is abhorrent to some of us but undoubtedly it is not abhorrent to members of the Labor Party.
It will be some time probably before the people of Australia are able to express some view on this matter. A further point which concerns me is that some of our educational institutions are left wing orientated and exhibit communist sympathies. I refer to a notice which appeared in the ‘Camberra Times’ advertising a meeting of the North Vietnamese delegation for Thursday 3rd May to take place in the Copland Theatre in the Australian National University reception centre. The phone numbers for reply are those of the ANU. Public money is being spent on these people who a short time ago were undoubtedly the enemies of this country. Whilst I am one who would be anxious to seek peace no matter what the price might be, I cannot but be alarmed by the double standard that is being displayed by the Labor Party. Neither Senator Wheeldon, Senator Willesee nor Senator Primmer mentioned the fact that whilst a war is supposedly ending in Vietnam today - they blame South Vietnam for it - the aggression that has taken place and the only concentration of troops in the war has been in South Vietnam. There has never been any action, or war or fighting in North Vietnam. The insurgency in the South has come from the North.
What is the situation with the winding down of the war? Would any of the vocal honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber say today that North Vietnam was not attacking Cambodia or Laos? What do they do? They remain quiet. One is sickened to see the double standard that emanates from a government which is controlled totally by the left wing of the Labor Party, a left wing which is totally communist-minded in its actions. The Opposition has given consideration to this matter of urgency, and I think so faT in the debate it has thrown up very well the attitude that the Government would not dare to criticise one communist country in the world. It would not dare to criticise the actions of North Vietnam today. Government speakers have made no mention of this matter. Nothing has been said by those who, in my view, would reasonably be considered as right wing members of the Labor Party. Surely the North Vietnamese should be criticised and castigated at the present time. But, no, this is not done by the present Government.
It is interesting to reflect on Mr Whitlam’s statement:
Our mandate and duty to maintain the American alliance is equally clear, and this we will do.
Surely the attitude of the Labor Government since it took office is clear. Has there been any condemnation of Cairns, Cameron or Uren for the comments they made about America? I doubt whether I have the time to read those comments to honourable senators. However, they are comments which any reasonable American would regard with abhorrence. AH of us as Australians must come under the castigation of those whom we considered as allies at one time. I refer to Britain, Rhodesia, South Africa and America. How do we feel, when the Prime Minister of our country is condemned by the countries of our near north and told to mind his own business? Has any Foreign Minister or Prime Minister been so treated by any near neighbour as has Mr Whitlam, a man whom I am willing to say appears to have great stature and presentation? The attitude of this Government is sickening. I have sent telegrams to some of those countries and have apologised, for the attitude that our Labor Government has taken. I have apologised to America in the hope that it will not brand as communist minded that very big proportion of the Australian community which does not share the communist sympathy that we find emanating at present from this Labor socialist Government.
One would have thought that the Government would have reflected on what has happened in Vietnam over the past years. I remember when I came into this House in 1964 that Peter Nixon, my colleague from Victoria who had just come back from Vietnam at that time, told a story of how the Vietcong in attempting by terrorism to take control of one of the villages in South Vietnam - I hate to repeat this incident - nailed a note on the door of one of the houses, ‘Supply the Vietcong’. The Vietcong was not supplied. The villager’s child was captured the next day and the child’s hand was sent in an envelope to the father with a note that he had best comply with the demands of the Vietcong. Where is the criticism of this sort of incident from members of the Labor Party? Rather, they say: ‘We embrace the Vietcong. We embrace the Vietnamese who come here’. I have drawn the attention of the Senate to the picture which shows the Australian Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry proudly standing under a picture of Ho Chi Minh. I hope that the people of Australia have not changed their attitude.
Certainly the Government is doing all it can to change the people’s attitude. The Government has recognised North Vietnam. The Government has criticised South Vietnam. The Government has welcomed and embraced East Germany. The Senate has heard about the false facts that were given to this Government and the previous Government by Yugoslavia in regard to the execution and murder of 3 Australian citizens in Yugoslavia. Not one criticism is made by the Australian Labor Party of that communist government. That would upset those individuals who are such a strong part of and who control the Labor Government at this time. Comments have been made in the newspapers. It is interesting to note that gradually the Australian news media are changing their attitude towards the Australian Labor Government. Not only do we see the view expressed overseas, but also we see the changing view of nearly every newspaper in every State or Territory of Australia. They are saying things, such as what is said in the newspaper articles
I have before me, namely, that in fact we are doing ourselves great harm and that we are becoming isolationists in accepting the attitude that this Government has proposed. 1 do not think we have been given any clear vision of the type of defence structure that is likely to replace the organisations or countries with which we were previously allied. There is little doubt that the Labor Government wishes Australia to be viewed as a close friend in the communist world. But we have not been given any clear view of what Australia hopes to have as a defence organisation in the future. We embrace these people today. Are they of benefit to Australia in regard to our future defence? Where are our allies? Certainly, they have reason to desert us because of the attitudes the Government has taken in relation to cutting down and degrading the Australian Army and breaking down Australia’s defence forces. This action is certainly in line with what communist countries would wish us to do. It appears to me that there has been a massive swing to the Left in the new Government’s priorities.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I regret that the Senate has been subjected to a dissipation and waste of time in considering a motion dealing with a so-called matter of urgency which it is difficult to understand. I think that most Opposition honourable senators might concede this if they have a look at and try to study and evaluate what is meant by the subject the motion proposes as a matter of urgency. I want to deal briefly with a comment made by Senator Webster in the course of his remarks. He was terribly concerned about our so-called disagreement with our former allies. This is a matter that really concerns me in the debate we are conducting this evening as a consequence of this motion: We are dealing with what may be said to be the effect rather than the causation. If honourable senators opposite are prepared to cast their minds back and be honest - I know that it is difficult for them to be honest - they have to-
– You would not know-
– I did not interrupt the honourable senator. If honourable senators opposite are prepared to cast their minds back and be honest about this, they will concede that in the 1939-45 World War, when it was a question of defending Indo-China, the then colonialists in IndoChina, particularly in Vietnam - it was then one nation - were collaborators with the people against whom we lost more than 27,000 men from this country alone. The Vietminh forces created a resistance movement. They were supplied and supported by the Allies during that war. I ask the honourable senator to think about this. They were a part of our cause during the 1939-45 War and they lost many people. What happened after the cessation of hostilities in that War? The French and the Dutch endeavoured to impose their colonial rule, in the first instance in Indo-China and in the second instance in Indonesia. They were supported and aided by the so-called Allies. As a matter of fact, they did not even disarm the Japanese forces on Java in order to support the recolonialisation of Indonesia. I hope that Senator Webster will not leave the chamber. I would ask him to think about this. These were the people who supported us during the 1939-45 War.
With the cessation of hostilities, the French endeavoured to reimpose their colonial rule although they were the collaborators in this part of the world during that War. I repeat that we lost 27,000 men - the cream of the youth of this country - apart from those who were injured and incapacitated for the rest of their lives. I hope that Senator Webster is listening to what I am saying. Then the French decided that they had a rightful claim to the part of Indo-China about which we are talking this evening. Other parts of Indo-China had been cut up between the great colonial powers, including the old United Kingdom, the great empire of yesteryear. What happened? The French were so bankrupt that they could not sustain their attempts to reassert their colonial influence in Indo-China. Unbeknown to the then President of the United States of America and by some devious means, the American nation started to support the re-establishment of colonial rule in Indo-China. It was underwriting up to 75 per cent of the cost of the attempts by the French, who were opposed to this nation and the Allied forces during the 1939-45 War, to reimpose their colonial rule, until 1945 when they were ignominiously defeated by the Vietnamese people. Are honourable senators opposite forgetting this? That was the commencement of the real force behind the former Vichy French collaborators who were opposed to us in the last World War and who decided to take over and then expose themselves to the world. The position is as simple as that.
What happened from then on? Firstly, there was one person - Ngo Dinh Diem - who was supported by the then American Government. He proved to be unsuccessful. The world knows what happened to him. The American Government deliberately set out to murder him, and it did murder him. That has never been contested. A part of the Geneva Accords stated that free elections were to be held in Vietnam, I think in 1955 or 1956. The year does not really matter. It was just after the signing of the Geneva Accords. A statement was made by a man whom we are presently acknowledging to be one of the great Presidents of the United States of America, the former Commanding-General of the American Armed Forces, President Eisenhower. This is not what Bill Brown says; it is to be seen in the records of the United States Congress. He said that the United States could not afford to have free elections in Vietnam. The reason he gave was simple. At least he was honest, which is more than honourable senators opposite are. He said that 80 per cent of the people of Vietnam would vole for Ho Chi Minh. The position is as simple as that.
– Menzies said that.
– My colleague said that Menzies said that. He said a lot of strange things. He may well have said that. After he came back from Nazi Germany before the 1939-45 war he said he supported Hitler, too. Lel us cast our minds back over history. If we had really wanted a bulwark against the threat of the so-called downward thrust of Communist China-
– The domino theory.
– Yes, the domino theory. If there was one nation which could have provided this bulwark it was that of the Vietnamese people. I will tell you why this is so: They had fought the Chinese for a thousand years not because of ideological considerations but because they wanted to have a Vietnamese nation independent and free of interference.
– They fought the Japanese and the French.
– They fought the Japanese; they fought the Chinese.
– And the French.
– Yes, and the French.
– And the Americans.
– And then they had to fight the Americans.
– And the Australians.
– And then to our shame they had to fight Australians. I say it with great respect, because it was not their fault that our young men, as a consequence of a decision of a former government led by the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies - so-called Sir Robert - which committed the first battalion of troops to !>hat conflict in April 1965, fought in Vietnam. Senator Hannan said this evening in the course of his contribution, which was the usual theoretical flamboyance that he goes on with, that we were entertaining enemies who had shot down 500 Australians. Those young men were not responsible for being in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese were trying to defend themselves against the same sort of thing that they had suffered for over a thousand years. You members who now sit on the Opposition benches were responsible for sending those young men there. My God, can you dispute the right of the Vietnamese to defend their own country, their territorial sovereignty? You cannot. Now I look at these people who used to sit on the cross benches, particularly Senator Greenwood and a few others who were young enough to carry arms and never had the guts to do it but pursued young men who they believed ought to have gone to Vietnam while they enjoyed the sanctuary of this place. They persecuted and prosecuted and gaoled young men - for what? If they are prepared to think logically about history-
– He was prepared to go to the High Court.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order!
– I do not want to be interrupted, even by my colleague.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! ….tor Poyser will cease this unseemly behaviour.
– If Opposition senators are prepared to think about this and about the history of these people, they will see that the Vietnamese have shown the greatest courage and the greatest fortitude of any nation of people 1 have ever known. The greatest tragedy is that 500 of our young people, our youth, were sent there to be killed. What sort of treatment did the Australians who returned from Vietnam receive from the former Government? I am the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare which is currently examining repatriation benefits and I should like to deal with just one example. Senator Little you can yawn. You have been yawning for a long time. You would not know which end of a rifle the bullet comes out, but you are always prepared to send other people to war on your behalf. You are a parasite; you are a hypocrite. I have no apology to offer for saying tha* - no apology.
– I rise on a point of order.
– I have no apology to make.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– I take strong exception to the reference to an honourable senator in this place as being a hypocrite. 1 demand the immediate withdrawal of that statement. The term ‘parasite and hypocrite’ is an unparliamentary term which I believe must be withdrawn.
– J rise to speak on the point of order. The honourable senator to whom the expression was directed has not asked for withdrawal of it. No one suggests that Senator Laucke is a parasite or a hypocrite. There is no question that there should be a withdrawal; the request for a withdrawal is made only because it is offensive to Senator Laucke. The point of order serves no purpose. I question very much whether under the Standing Orders when an honourable senator to whom a remark is directed does not take exception to it someone else, for the sole purpose of gaining some political capital, may rise and ask for a withdrawal of that remark.
– I rise on the point of order. It is well known and has been established by rulings by previous occupants of the chair that standing order 418 must be obeyed. That Standing Order states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member if such House . . . and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
There have been many rulings by your predecessors that the word ‘hypocrite’ - I do not know about the word ‘parasite’ - is unparliamentary. 1 can only submit that the point of order is well sustained by past practice.
– I rise on the point of order, since my name seems to have been taken in vain. 1 made no interjections or said anything to anybody. I take no objection to the opinion expressed by Senator Brown because from what I know of his private life I would not care what opinion he holds of me. In fact, I would be offended if he made a remark which tended to flatter me. For that reason I personally take no objection at all to what he may say about me. But if what he said is offensive to the Senate, then I believe it should be withdrawn.
– I will make my position perfectly clear. There are 2 ways of saying something: One can be either honest or dishonest. I will simply say in lieu of what I said before that Senator Little never had the intestinal fortitude or the guts to do what he has suggested other people ought to have done.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I understand that you are withdrawing the words objected to.
– And I am substituting other words for them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Will you proceed, Senator Brown.
– Yes. Thank you, Sir. Before I was rudely interrupted- (Opposition-senators interjecting)
– For obvious reasons they do not have the wherewithal to stand up to what I am saying.
– Mr Deputy President-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Laucke, do you wish to take a point of order?
– Yes. I have asked for the withdrawal of the offensive words.
– I withdraw them.
– I am speaking of the words that you, Senator Brown, used - ‘hypocrite and parasite’, which are offensive.
– Speaking to the point of order, Senator Laucke asked for the withdrawal of the words and Senator Little then made a statement. Senator Brown then substituted other words which you, Mr Deputy President, accepted as a withdrawal and you then asked him to proceed. Senator Laucke is now questioning your ruling and I do not think that this should be entertained for one minute. He has no right to canvass your ruling. I suggest that the point of order has been satisfied and that Senator Laucke may not raise it on a second occasion since you have ruled on it and Senator Brown has complied to your satisfaction.
The DEPUTY PRESD3ENT - I think honourable senators should realise that their behaviour tonight is not seemly. Part of the difficulty has been my inability at times to hear Senator Brown because of the misbehaviour of Senator Poyser and, at times, Senator O’Byrne who have interjected-
– I rise on a point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You may not raise this point of order at this stage. Senator Poyser and Senator O’Byrne consistently interjected while their colleague was speaking. Senator Brown is quite capable of making his speech himself but at times I was not able to hear his speech because of the behaviour of his colleagues. I suggest that we all realise that this behaviour is not fitting. A point of order was raised and I understood that Senator Brown intended that his substitution of other words was a retraction of what he had said. I take it that he has retracted the word ‘hypocrite’ which is-
– And ‘parasite’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- And ‘parasite’. These words have been repeatedly ruled as unparliamentary. I now ask Senator Brown to continue his speech - without any assistance from Senator Poyser.
– Mr Acting President, 1 wish to make a personal explanation on a point of order after the conclusion of Senator Brown’s speech. Shall I make it then or now?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Clerk informs me that Senator Brown’s time has expired, which is unfortunate.
– I now wish to make a personal explanation. Will you allow me to make a personal explanation in relation to the remarks made by the Chair?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Certainly, Mr Deputy President. You named me in your last remarks when this afternoon you deliberately allowed the DLP senators to interject incessantly and did not take any action whatever other than to say: ‘Order! Order! Order!’. You never rose to your feet at any time to stop the interjections of Senator Gair and other DLP senators. If you want to be so partisan, as you were this afternoon, I am prepared to accept the consequences of your actions in this chamber.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Poyser, you must realise that you cannot reflect upon the Chair in that way. Obviously your behaviour was not (fitting tonight and I treated you rather lightly. I gave you many warnings but, despite the warnings, you persisted in the behaviour to which I objected. I shall ignore at the moment the reference you made to me and I trust that you will take this as a final warning that I will not accept that kind of behaviour.
– Tonight the Senate is debating a matter which is designed to focus attention upon an event of significance of the last few weeks. It indicates the significance with which Australians should observe the quality and purpose of the dominant section of the Australian Government. The event that has been brought into debate tonight was the welcome in Sydney presided over by a senior Minister of the Australian Government to a delegation consisting of 2 groups, one comprising representatives of the Government of North Vietnam and the other comprising representatives of the Vietcong. Undoubtedly the Government of North Vietnam has extended its aggression south of its country for the last decade. Having been foiled in South Vietnam it is now directing its aggression against Cambodia. That it is a risk to the Australian Government was indicated by the attitude that we took, in alliance with the United States of America, in trying to stem that invasion at the expense of Australian servicemen and women.
It is important that the Australian people should understand that at the present time Dr J. F. Cairns, a senior Minister in the Federal
Government and representing a dominant section within the Government and the Australian Labor Party, extended that welcome in Sydney to a terrorist organisation of Vietcong which actually was engaged until recently in fighting Australian servicemen. With the aid of the 2 great communist empires of the world - China and Russia - the North Vietnamese Government exerted bloodshed, atrocity indescribable and massacre on the South Vietnamese. It was because of this that we and the Americans felt obliged to withstand it. The senior Ministers and those in the Labor Government who support them should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. In the words of the President of the Returned Services League of New South Wales-
– A world authority.
– He represents a substantial section of men who have fought for the right to be heard. He has said that if the Government has the slightest respect for those Australians who died in Vietnam it should cancel this visit as a matter of urgency. The significance of these events is added to by the outrageous piece of presumption that members of the Government, together with their supporters, have just brought into this Parliament House tonight for the purpose of entertainment that very delegation which consists of traitors and enemies of Australia. Mr Deputy President, you can judge the true bent and purpose of the actions of this section of the Austraian Labor Government by the fact that they are using the propaganda of this delegation to undermine the purpose of Australia to withstand everything for which the Vietcong and the North Veitnamese Government stand. What do they stand for?
– Liberty and freedom, of which you are trying to deprive them.
– Senator Cavanagh, a captive of his own blind obsessional pursuit of communism, says that they are fighting for liberty. It is that same purblind outlook that has induced the Government, presided over by Mr Whitlam but not controlled by him, firstly to accept recognition by Communist China on condition that we jettison Taiwan. Then on behalf of the Government Mr Whitlam advanced in Indonesia the cause that the South East Asian Pacific grouping should ba dominated by the introduction of the Communist Chinese power. He was deservedly rebuked. He has returned. via Mauritius where he had the presumption to proclaim that the
Australian Government was proud of adopting neutrality in the Indian Ocean. That, of course, is a synonym for easy access and undisputed tenure for the Russian fleet to the Mediterranean and the coastline of South East Asia. Coupled with the advocacy of the Australian Labor Government to kick the Americans out of North West Cape, we can see a pattern emerging whereby the communist supporters - that group in the Australian Government - have taken the clear direction in which they are leading Australia in relation to our foreign policy until their period of office is terminated.
It has been most useful that Senator Hannan has moved this motion to enable the Senate to discuss this matter and to hear vehement defence of the Vietcong from Senator McLaren and the most vehement and noisy defence from Senator Brown, disclosing now without shame or qualification their unequivocal support for the Vietcong, the enemy of everything that Anzac ever stood for. We are told that this delegation is being introduced here by Dr J. F. Cairns by arrangement through Wilfred Burchett and that it was welcomed by Dr Cairns in a manner which we condemn. So as distinctly to show those in this Senate who condemn it and those who approve it, I move:
That the question be now put. 1 do so for the purpose of a division.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question now is: That the original motion be agreed to’. Those of that opinion say ‘Aye’, to the contrary No’, I think the ayes have it.
– Division! Division! Division!
– -Order! A division is required. Ring the bells. Order! Senator Wright, I have just been reminded by the Clerk that you cannot impose your will for a. division. I declare the motion carried.
– Mr President, if a number of senators call for a division, by calling repetitively for their point of view, I submit that you are obliged to allow the Senate to go to a division.
– Order! The ruling is that only those challenging my decision as to, how the question was decided can demand a division. Do you do so, Senator Wright?
– Before you seek from Senator Wright an answer to that question, Mr President, I ask you whether you will give clarification of the position. You had not declared this motion carried when we demanded a division.
– I said: ‘I think the ayes have it’.
– But you had not declared it carried, as far as I personally was concerned, and we, in the meantime, demanded a division. I understand that, under those conditions, we can divide.
– Now he has declared it.
– Divide! Divide! Divide!
-I wish to speak, Mr President.
– Order, Senator Cavanagh, are you raising a point of order?
– I am speaking on the point of order raised by Senator Young. The position is that any 2 senators who dissent from your decision as to the result of a vote by the Senate on the voices on any question may ask for a division. Senator Young said that at the stage when a division was asked for and you had not declared the motion carried. If you had not declared the result of the putting of the question, no one could dissent from your ruling at that stage. Obviously, a division cannot be called for until you have made a declaration as to what the vote was on the voices. But since that time you have made a declaration of the result of the vote on the voices and those who should be satisfied with that declaration cannot ask for a division on the question.
– As the time for this debate has expired, Mr President, I ask for your ruling that we proceed to the next business - that is, constructive business.
– Order! 1 have asked to be advised by honourable senators on this point of order. The Presiding Officer, whoever he is, in these circumstances must test the feeling of the Senate by declaring in the formula of the Senate either ‘I think the ayes have it’ or’I think the noes have it’. I declared that I thought the ayes had it; that is to say, the motion was carried. If a division is demanded, it means that my ruling is being challenged and there must be a division on my ruling and not on the question of whether the motion is to be carried. This simply means that if honourable senators who called aye’ now call for a division they will be challenging my ruling and they must then vote with the noes and not with the ayes.
– Mr President, mayI ask what the position is? It was rather difficult to hear with all the interruptions. What is the position?
– My statement is and was that, in the terms of the practice and Standing Orders of the Senate,I declared the motion carried by saying ‘I think the ayes have it’. I having done so, if there is any requirement for a division to be taken it is, in essence and in fact, a motion of disagreement with my ruling. Therefore, in any subsequent division on the motion of disagreement with my ruling, those who are calling for a division must vote with the noes.
– On a point of order, Mr President, I call your attention to standing order 164 which reads:
Whenever the President states, on putting a Question, that in his opinion the Ayes or the Noes (as the case may be) have it, his opinion may be challenged by Senators calling ‘Divide’.
Mr President, I challenge you to dispute that, when you put the original question, on the Labor side there were calls of ‘No’ and on this side there were calls of ‘Yes’. Your view was challenged by senators in the spirit of the–
– Challenged by whom?
– Order! I wish to be heard, Mr President.
– I am listening.
– If you will accept my challenge, you will admit that the proposition as to the carrying of the motion was challenged in the terms of that standing order. The Senate is entitled by a division to have recorded the individual votes of the senators. I submit that it is time the President or the Chair was obedient to the will of the floor of the Senate in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I call Senator Murphy.
– Mr President–
– The will of the floor of the Senate! ~ Senator Murphy - I am sorry that 1 rose because it appears that Senator Wright is continuing to speak after he has resumed his seat.
- Senator Wright is seated. I thought he had resumed his seat.
– Yes. but he seemed to be continuing to speak from his seat. Now that he has concluded his contribution, Mr President, let me say that the tradition in the Senate with respect to the decision as to whether there should be a division on any question has been very long standing and, to my knowledge, during the period that I have been here it has been applied consistently in the way in which you have applied it this evening. That is. if there is a call for those supporting a question to say ‘Aye’ and those against that question to say ‘No’ and you determine the vote one way and those who have lost on the decision which you have made do not call for a division, that is the end of the matter. It seems that Senator Wright is putting some proposition that seeks to depart from previous rulings on the matter and also to depart from the traditions of this Senate. I will admit that he has put his argument with great force.
The ruling is one which is observed not only in the Senate. It is common to all bodies. It is almost a common law ruling. It is not one which is to be foolishly challenged by those who have the numbers, as Senator Wright claims he has. He says: ‘We won the vote. We were given a ruling in our favour: but we are entitled to demand a division’. That is the plain position, is it not? He says: We have the numbers. We won this vote. We are entitled to demand a division.’ That is not the sense of the Standing Orders, it is not the basis on which rulings have been made. The argument runs right in the face of the traditions of this Senate. Mr President, we take the view that your ruling is in conformity with what has been done, whichever government has been in power and whoever has been sitting in the chair, for a very long time.
– 1 do not think that Senator Wright used his ability to clarify for any reason other than to distort the relevant standing order. It does not matter much what we may think of it. It is a matter of interpretation of the standing order. Senator Wright very shrewdly distorted it. It means something entirely different to what he tried to make the Senate believe it means. In the process I thought he was disgracefully discourteous to you, Mr President. 1 do not know that any other senator would be permitted such latitude to use such offensive remarks. No one would expect such words to be used by anyone else. But even with Senator Wright I think that we must draw the line somewhere as to whether we will accept discourteous remarks from any honourable senator. Mr President, your ruling was given after consideration and, I think, after the advice of the clerks. I think everyone would agree thai it was in conformity with the standing order. Standing order 164 does not slate that any senator can call for a division, lt states:
Whenever the President states, on putting a question, that in his opinion the Ayes or the Noes (as the case may be) have it, his opinion may be challenged by senators calling ‘Divide’.
You have decided, whether you were right or wrong, that the ayes have it. All that Senator Wright can say is: ‘In accordance with the standing order I challenge your decision and want the Senate to divide because I want to upset your declaration’. Unless he wants to upset your declaration he has no right to call for a division. That was your ruling. Senator Wright wants his name recorded as having voted for this retrograde step, perhaps to win some favour in the circle in which he mixes in Tasmania. He wants to challenge your decision for that reason.
Let us forget about personalities, etc. I think we expect the President to give a ruling in accordance with the Standing Orders. Mr President, you have given a ruling in conformity with the Standing Orders. A senator can ask for a division if he wants to challenge your ruling. If a senator challenges the President’s declaration because he wishes to have his vote recorded, not because his vote is contrary to the President’s declaration, the division would have to be called off. My argument is reinforced by standing order 165, which states:
At any time before the tellers are appointed a call for u division may be withdrawn by leave of the Senate, and the division shall not be proceeded with. The decision of the President which was challenged shall stand.
A division can be called only when there is a challenge to the decision of the President. Therefore the President’s decision - win or lose - cannot be challenged by anyone whom it favours.
– Mr President–
– It is nice to see you here.
– I did not come here to be insulted with that sort of nonsense.
– I rise on a point of order.
– What is your point of order?
– My point of order is that under standing order 418 no senator shall reflect upon any member of either House and that all personal reflections shall be considered highly disorderly. I rise quite deliberately because my leader, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers), has been assailed continuously by snide interjections by members of the Government who suggest that he was not in the chamber. It is about time that that lie was nailed because it has been said from time to time, without justification, with no evidence and as part of a calculated belittling of the Leader of the Opposition. The remark was personally offensive. I suggest that the chamber should not be used for the passing of remarks which have absolutely no basis and which are part of a character assassination for which members of the Government are renowned.
– Mr President–
– Order! I am involved in an intricate point of order which relates to the procedure of the Senate, and I will deal with that point of order first and I will take cognisance of your intention, Senator Poyser, to deal with standing order 418 later. I call Senator Withers.
-I thought that at this hour of the night the whole matter ought to be cooled. Let us have a little reason on the whole subject. I think that a point of order which is taken on a presidential ruling ought to be dealt with seriously by the Senate. It is no little matter to challenge what the President has ruled. I think that out of courtesy to the Chair the proceedings in this place should be a little orderly when such matters are under challenge. I say that out of respect to the high office which you, Mr President, hold. It is quite obvious that there is a difference of opinion in the Senate about your ruling. I realise that the matter has been raised previously. I have done some reading on it. As far as I can discover, your ruling is in accordance with previous rulings by Presi dents. I can well understand why you are not prepared to upset a practice of long standing. However, it is quite obvious that a number of honourable senators feel that there ought to be some method, apart from standing order 164, by which they can have their votes recorded. Therefore I suggest that the method of resolving this matter ought to be that your ruling be not challenged this evening but that it ought to be raised at an early meeting of the Standing Orders Committee. It may well be that a standing order could be drafted which would satisfy the desires of those who want a division on the ruling of the Chair delivered on the voices and which would still give an opportunity to divide the Senate so that we may know where everybody stands.
– Is that your suggestion?
– I would have thought that that was a reasonable and sensible solution to the situation. Problems relating to the Standing Orders will not be solved by debates which are conducted in the heat of the moment. The Standing Orders are important in this place. I understand the great difficulties that any occupant of the chair has in enforcing them. Therefore there is a real argument for having the Standing Orders as clear and as precise as possible. Interpretations will not be resolved in the heat of the moment.
– Do we accept your interpretation?
– This is the sort of nonsense that one gets when one is trying to put a proposition. At this hour of the night the Standing Orders ought not to be determined on the political strength in the chamber. The Standing Orders are too important for that. That is why I believe that the matter ought to go to the Standing Orders Committee and that what the President has ruled tonight ought not to be challenged in any way. In the calmness of a Committee meeting we may be able to come to some solution which will satisfy all senators. I believe that that is the duty and purpose of the Standing Orders Committee. That is the only contribution which I wish to make to the debate. I think that it is a reasonable solution to the situation. A practice of the Senate of perhaps 70 years standing can be looked at in the calmness of a meeting of that sort.
– I support Senator Withers. It seems to me that you, Mr President, have followed the precedents established in this chamber in relation to the standing order. I agree with Senator Withers that the atmosphere is too heated and the circumstances are inappropriate for there to be some attempt to disturb the precedent or to step aside in some way from the standing order. Therefore I think that the matter could well be considered by the Standing Orders Committee. I rose to point out the different position that has arisen in this chamber. The motion which brought on this debate came from honourable senators on the Opposition side and their attitude is known. The motion was resisted by the Government and the attitude of Government supporters therefore also is known. The motion was supported by the Democratic Labor Party and the attitude of our group is known. However there are 3 independent senators, 2 of them at present in the chamber, who to my knowledge have not spoken in this debate. Their attitude may not be known and perhaps it can be disclosed only in a division because their voices would not be obvious if the motion were won or ,- on the voices.
– Are they not allowed to speak?
Senator BYRNI That is not the point. It is a matter of then election. They are entitled to vote and to register their opinion. In the light of the new development in the Senate with the emergence of independent senators, we should look at the Standing Orders to see whether there is some way in which the votes of honourable senators in respect of a particular matter can be registered. Perhaps a reasonable precedent would arise from the operation of standing order 168 which states:
A Division cannot be called for, unless more than one voice has been given for the Ayes and likewise for the Noes:
Provided that in such case the one Senator calling for a Division shall be entitled to have his vole recorded in the Journals.
In such a case a division is not called for, or at least it docs nol take place, but a senator who wishes his vote to be recorded can ask for his name to be recorded in the journals. That type of solution may occur to the Standing Orders Committee as one which would answer the vexed question which is presently engaging the attention of the Senate. Therefore I think the proposition put by Senator Withers has a great deal to commend it, and I support it. “ Senator Poyser - Speaking to the point of order, Mr President, I note that the Senate has 451 standing orders, all of which have obviously been interpreted correctly by the President. My mind goes back to some of the very tough trade union meetings that I have attended.
– Under what rules did they operate?
– On many occasions they operated on the rules that members of the Opposition are trying to impose tonight. By that I mean that the names of a few people who opposed something could be listed - I have seen this happen in the right wing unions that Senator Gair so loves and supports
– Senator Poyser, just addres your remarks to the standing order.
– If Senator Gair chooses to interject while I am speaking-
– Order confine yourself to the point of order relating to standing order 164.
– The Opposition is suggesting that if it has the advantage of the brutality of numbers the votes must be recorded. I have seen this happen in many areas when people wished to take the list of names and afterwards show them to various other people. That is the brutality of numbers. People take the list around and say: ‘These are the dirty little people who dared to vote against us’.
– Order! Senator Poyser, I have heard enough of your point of order.
– You may have, Sir, but I believe I am entitled-
– You are entitled to address yourself to a point of order relating to standing order 164. Will you confine your remarks to that matter?
– On the basis of standing order 164, Mr President, I believe that you have meticulously and properly upheld the point of order. Senator Wright does not believe that you have done so because he cannot get his little list to take away and show to people. We have reached the stage at which those with the numbers are using them, and they still want to use names. I would choose to divide on the matter that is before the Chair now. I would like to see people stand up and be counted in a vote on this matter.
– Order! Keep to the point of order.
– This is the point I am making: If on every occasion that the Opposition can get the numbers, with the support of the Democratic Labor Party and the independents, it calls a division, it is just playing politics and not observing the Senate Standing Orders.
Senator Negus - Some people imagine, Mr President, that independent senators do not have much to say at times in this chamber. Perhaps that is because the independents think that they should not lower themselves. Al this stage I am talking to the point of order relating to your ruling. Honourable senators in this chamber have only themselves to blame. I have sat in this chamber on many occasions when you have called for honourable senators to vote aye or no and you have received no response. 1 have seen you, Mr President, and the temporary occupants of the Chair endeavouring to contain the House and to run it as a Senate should be run. I have seen disgraceful exhibitions of honourable senators interjecting when the Standing Ciders provide that no honourable senator shall interject when another is on his feet. Yet this goes on all the time. The Presiding Officer endeavours to carry out his duties but he faces a very difficult job because of the members in this House at the present time. Tonight’s exhibition is nothing but disgraceful. I did not think I would ever see such an exhibition in this Senate. I do not think we can pat ourselves on the back for anything that has gone on in this chamber tonight. You gave a ruling. Sir, to the best of your ability. Prior to your taking the Chair tonight I saw the person occupying the Chair standing there calling for order while interjections came from honourable senators. That sort of thing is against the Standing Orders. It is time that the members of this chamber took a tumble to themselves and recognised that when the President gives a ruling it should be accepted and obeyed.
– 1 feel confident, Mr President, that tonight you will rule against Senator Wright’s desire that a division be called. That would be consistent with a decision you made in the Senate during this period of sitting of the Parliament.
– You are being discourteous.
– I am not being discourteous. 1 am saying that the President is correct. Such a decision would be consistent with a view stated by him on an earlier occasion such as this. I had some doubt at that time whether under standing order 164 senators should be counted. Standing order 164 states:
Whenever the President states, on putting a Question, that in his opinion the Ayes or the Noes (as the case may be) have it, his opinion may be challenged by Senators calling ‘Divide’.
The literal wording of that standing order left me in no doubt that any honourable senator seeking a division could reasonably ask for a division. That is what the standing order provides. It does not state that somebody who calls ‘no’ must be the person who demands the division. Senate practice however has established that in such a case it had to be somebody calling ‘no’ and in that case that person’s name would be recorded with the Noes’. That would happen before the division could be called. The Senate Clerk informed me that the background to this proposition was that the time of the Senate would be taken up by those who had been granted the benefit, of a division calling for a division so that the numbers could be counted. This can lead to a certain situation. Senator Poyser referred to it in rather harsh words. I think he said that the dirty little members would be counted. I think that is what will appear in Hansard. However, I do not put it in that way. In a matter such as the one before the Chair it is proper for members of the Opposition to require to know where the Senate stands in this regard.
An instance of this was raised by Senator Byrne. The main Opposition speakers and the main Government speakers were heard in this debate but there was no opportunity for the independent senators to speak. Minor parties of the future ought to be properly heard and properly counted. 1 put to you, Mr President, that the literal translation of standing order 164 is that any honourable senator should be able to stand and call for a division and the President should grant that division. By practice that apparently is not so. I certainly support the proposition that this matter should go to the Standing Orders Committee.
– Order! I think that the matter has been aired sufficiently. The President or the Acting Deputy President or Chairman of Committees involved in the circumstances which occurred in the Senate earlier this evening can only look at the Standing
Orders and then at the rulings which predecessors in this chair have given from time to time in this context. The rulings that have been given from time in this context are set out, and I think it is appropriate that I should quote them. This is a compendium of rulings set out in the ‘Australian Senate Practice’. It states:
Only those senators challenging the Chair’s opinion may call for a division. In other words those agreeing with the decision of the Chair cannot force a division on the minority if they do not want one.
It was in obedience to that ruling, which has been the ruling for many years and has been accepted as the practice of the Senate, that I so ruled. I am grateful for the intrusion into the debate on the point of order of other honourable senators who suggest that some further clarification, some further examination and some further consideration of this matter should be given by the Standing Orders Committee. Therefore, I should be grateful if honourable senators would allow the President’s ruling to be carried on the basis that it is referred to the Standing Orders Committee for analysis and consideration and report back to the Senate.
Honourable senators - Hear, hear!
– Mr President, you asked me to defer my point of order while this other point of order was raised. I am persistent. I refer to standing order 418 which indicates that all personal reflections on members shall be considered to be highly disorderly. I rise not because this is an isolated occurrence but because 1 have heard a number of times in the Senate this year what seems to me to be a consistent campaign by some Government senators directed at the Leader of the Opposition in a way that is untruthful and without foundation. While it is not recorded in Hansard, because the interjection is ignored, there is a persistence, particularly when proceedings are being broadcast, which carry an imputation which is offensive to the Senate when the statement lacks any foundation or truth whatsoever. In those circumstances, Mr President, I draw your attention to the matter. 1 invite you to call upon Senator Poyser to withdraw this latest of a series of offensive statements in the Senate tonight. It is offensive not only to the Senate but also to Senator Withers because it is untrue and t carries an imputation which ought not to be carried. Surely that is the function of standing order 418.
– Senator Greenwood, it is interesting that you should raise that in this context because earlier this evening I was aware of matters that were happening in the Senate - Senator Poyser will be aware of what I am alluding to - and I examined this question as to the defence of senators by other senators. Again, I can rely only on the rulings given in this context. There is a ruling by President Hayes on this question. I looked it up earlier this evening. Again I may be wrong, but I rely on this unless otherwise instructed by the Senate. The ruling is:
The Chair does not however order the withdrawal of any statement merely because some Senator regards it as offensive.
I know that that is a pretty wide sort of a ruling, but I consider, Senator Poyser, that your allegations tonight formed a substantial body of evidence for Senator Greenwood nevertheless to complain - not specifically in the context of your allusions to Senator Withers. However justified or unjustified they are, it is not my position to indicate. What I do say, though, is that there has been in this Senate tonight, as was mentioned by some other honourable senators, an unbridled form of expression from various parts of the Senate in the context of other honourable senators. Therefore, Senator Poyser, I consider that your allusion to Senator Withers in this context was the culumination of a whole series of allegations that you made during the evening, and I would be grateful if we could finish the proceedings of the Senate today by your reflecting on it. I suggest that you may, on consideration, regard the expression you used as an unwarranted one.
– Mr President, I said 1 was pleased to see Senator Withers in the chamber. If it is a reflection on Senator Withers to say that I am pleased to see him here, I certainly withdraw it.
– Thank you.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present Tariff Board reports on:
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the following papers:
Report No. 4 of the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee entitled Strontium-90 and caesium- 137 in the Australian environment during 1970 and some results for 1971 (September 1972).
Report No. 5 of the Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee entitled Fallout over Australia from nuclear weapons tested by France in Polynesia during June and July 1972 (October 1972).
Report by the National Radiation Advisory Committee entitled Biological aspects of fallout in Australia from French nuclear weapons explosions in the Pacific, June-July 1972 (April 1973).
Report by the Australian Academy of Science entitled The biological effects of nuclear explosion fallout-report to the Prime Minister (April 1973).
I ask for leave to make a statement relating to these reports.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Results from the fallout monitoring program conducted prior to 1969 by AWTSC were published in full in the scientific literature and involved more than 40 separate papers. Since that time a special AWTSC series of reports has been introduced by the Committee and the 5 reports prepared in this series, including reports AWTSC Nos 4 and 5, have been tabled in the Parliament. Together they provide much detailed information relating to the fallout over Australia from nuclear weapons testing. These reports establish clearly and conclusively that the testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific by France has resulted in the fallout of radioactive material on Australia and the contamination of the Australian environment.
The report by the National Radiation Advisory Committee - NRAC - deals, as the title implies, solely with the effects on Australians of the testing of nuclear weapons by France during June and July 1972. The assessment of NRAC is based on data contained in AWTSC report No. 5, to which I have already referred. Using this data, NRAC has estimated the incidence of genetic defects and leukaemia and all other cancers attributable to the French tests of 1972 for the total population of Australia during the next 25 years. Honourable senators should note particularly that this latest NRAC report deals only with the effects on Australia of the French tests of 1972. Earlier NRAC reports deal with previous French test series.
In February 1973, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) requested the Australian Academy of Science to report to him on the actual or potential harm to Australia, including its human and animal population, its resources and environment, from the explosion of nuclear devices in the atmosphere, under water, or on or near the surface of the earth, with particular regard to the past and prospective explosions by France in the Pacific. The Academy’s expert committee has therefore independently estimated the incidence of genetic defects and leukaemia and other cancers attributable to all French tests to date. I stress that the Academy’s report, unlike the NRAC report, deals with the effects of both short and long-lived fallout arising from all French tests to date.
Honourable senators will find that the figures given in the 2 reports would appear to differ. This apparent difference arises from the way in which the results are expressed. In this connection, it is useful to quote from the Academy’s report. It states:
We find no reason to question the estimates of radioactive fallout used in the reports from other authorities: Our own independent assessment is given in the Appendix.
The reports of the NRAC and the Academy establish that the people of Australia may have been adversely affected by France holding nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific. Therefore, we are preparing to initiate proceedings against France in the International Court of Justice with a view to restraining France from continuing the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere of the Pacific. The Government has also taken steps to review and rationalise the means by which it is provided with information on the effects of nuclear fallout on the Australian population. Previously this function was the responsibility of the NRAC, supported in this work by the findings of the AWTSC. If honourable senators from the Australian Democratic Labour Party are interested in the report they would make it a lot easier for me if they did not speak. I am finding it quite difficult to speak while conversations go on.
– We know that the honourable senator has been under a lot of tension.
– The acoustics in this place are not very good. I assure the honourable senator that it is quite difficult when there is an enormous amount of noise rising. I am not blaming the honourable senator. I am suggesting that the acoustics make it quite difficult. Honourable senators will note that in the foreword to the reports of the AWTSC it is stated that the AWTSC is responsible for safety aspects of the use or testing of nuclear explosive devices in Australia; evaluation of proposals by other countries to explode nuclear devices outside Australia which might give rise to increased levels of radioactivity in Australia; and monitoring of levels of radioactivity in the Australian environment arising from activities with nuclear explosive devices either in this country or elsewhere. As Australia is now a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty, some of the functions of the AWTSC are consequently redundant. The opportunity has therefore been taken to establish the functions of continuing significance performed by the AWTSC in a revised organisation and to enlarge the scope of the advisory functions presently carried out by the NRAC A new institution to be known as the Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council will be established and this council will be the advisory body to the Government on the effects of ionising radiation on the Australian population and environment. The monitoring activities formerly carried out by the AWTSC will be carried out as a purely civil activity within the Department of Science.
Honourable senators will also recall that appointments to the previous NRAC were not for a fixed term. Appointments to the new body will be made for fixed periods, thus permitting the composition of the new council to respond more flexibly to the nature and status of emerging problems. The new council will report to the Government through my colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, who will in future table its reports. The members of the NRAC and the AWTSC have already been notified of the Government’s decision to review the advisory arrangements. I take this opportunity to place on public record an appreciation of the valuable service of the distinguished committee members.
Finally, I wish to comment on one other related document which will have come to the notice of honourable senators. I refer here to the report by Messrs Rathgerber, Gibbs and Stevens which deals with the safety regime operating at the French nuclear test site in the Pacific. Honourable senators are assured that this document will be tabled at an appropriate time in the near future. I would mention only at this point that this report does not deal with the effects of radiation from the French tests on the Australian people.
– The Opposition is delighted that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has tabled the documents and that we have received a copy of the statement which has been made. This is a considered statement with a great deal of public relations, shall I say. We have heard about trips to Paris and other things but the Senate has had some difficulty for some time in obtaining concrete material about this matter with which all Australians and certainly the Opposition are concerned.
– I do not know how the honourable senator makes that assumption.
– We have asked a number of questions and, as is usual with Senator Murphy, we have not received anything by way of a substantial reply. But I now say thank you for the documents which have been tabled and thank you for doing something which we wanted to happen. Obviously the Government wanted this to happen and I am sure all Australians wanted it to happen. I simply say that we are delighted to receive them and we wish to study them.
– Order! Senator Rae, I called you because I thought you were going to move that the Senate should take note of the statement and not make a staement yourself. You should ask for leave if you want to elaborate on the matter.
– I have spoken at slightly greater length than I intended. I simply indicated, if I may, that I will seek leave to continue my remarks after I have said-
– May I put the matter in order by moving that the Senate take note of the statement which I have presented? I move:
– Is the honourable senator happy with that procedure?
– I prefer to conclude and ask leave to continue my remarks.
– You will have to seek leave to speak. Do you seek leave?
– I seek leave.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. Now the matter is in order.
– Thank you. I make this final point. We will study the documents which have been placed before the Senate and the statement which has been made. I find it of some interest that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in a considered statement has said that the reports of the National Radiation Advisory Committee and the Australian Academy of Science establish that the people of Australia may - I emphasise that word ‘may’ - have been adversely affected by France holding nuclear tests in the Pacific. This is a matter of considerable concern to the Opposition because we find that the Attorney-General after his trip to Paris and after making positive statements is now, in a considered statement, using the word ‘may’ as opposed to the positive statements which have been made in the past.
– I think the honourable senator should read the report first.
– I shall study the documents and the statement, as will every honourable senator on the Opposition side. For that purpose I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
– I raise a point of order. What position are we in? Senator Murphy, in order to give Senator Rae an opportunity to speak, moved that the Senate take note of the statement. Senator Rae did not insist on speaking to the motion that the Senate take note of the statement but sought leave to make a statement. Having sought leave to make a statement he is not speaking to the motion before the chamber. If that is so, I question whether the honourable senator, after seeking leave to make a statement, can then ask for leave to continue his remarks if the statement is to be continued on another day. I do not mind Senator Rae continuing if he speaks to the motion, but this establishes a precedent. Anyone having obtained leave to speak and then obtaining leave to continue his remarks could bring the matter on at any time, despite other business of the Senate. If Senator Rae wants to continue 1 think it essential that he should indicate that he is speaking to the motion that the Senate take note ofthe statement.
– Senator Cavanagh’s point of order is perfectly correct.
– Would it resolve the matter if 1 were to move that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting? Senator Rae could then be treated as being in continuation.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Senators Gietzelt, Guilfoyle, O’Byrne and Prowse be members of the Joint Committee on Prices.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given for the House Committee to meet during the sitting of the Senate tomorrow.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
– I will detain the Senate for only a few moments. As the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill is a money Bill I am permitted to speak on any subject. I have in my possession 21 statutory declarations signed last Sunday by certain Sydney residents. These statutory declarations deal mainly with the dawn raids which took place on the homes of Croatian people on 1st April 1973. I had the text of these declarations printed in a composite document. So that these declarations can be examined by other honourable senators. I will seek leave to table the 21 declarations and the composite document containing the text of each declaration. This action is in compliance with a request made this afternoon by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). When Senator McManus was speaking this afternoon he indicated that he had documents in connection with this matter and Senator Murphy said that he would be pleased if Senator McManus would let him have the documents. My Party is complying with his request and I seek leave to table the statutory declarations and the composite document containing the text of each declaration.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I wish to announce that tomorrow 1 will give notice that I will move a motion for the establishment of a Senate select committee to inquire into aspects of what has come to be known as the Croatian affair.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill proposes an increase in the statutory maximum rate of charge which can be imposed on the employment of class A waterside workers. The Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act 1947-1971 provides for the assessment and collection of the stevedoring industry charge at rates which are prescribed by regulation under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act. Different rates are payable in respect of 3 separate classes of waterside workers. Class A waterside workers are registered regular waterside workers employed on weekly hire at permanent or continuous ports. Class B waterside workers are employed at continuous non-permanent ports. Class C waterside workers are those employed at non-continuous ports and include irregular waterside workers on Part B of the register at all ports.
The Stevedoring Industry Charge Act limits the rate of the charge payable in respect of employment of these 3 classes of waterside workers as defined in the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act. The present maximum rates of charge under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act are$1 per man-hour, $1.75 per man-hour and$1. 20 per man-hour for A, B, and C classes respectively. The actual rates charged within these maxima are fixed by regulation and in the case of class A waterside workers, the rate charged is now at the maximum.
The purpose of the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1973 is to amend the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act 1947-1971 to permit the charge to be imposed at rates up to $1.50 per man-hour for class A waterside workers. The amendment is necessary because the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is not able to meet its financial commitments with regard to class A waterside workers from the revenue currently derived from the charge. An increase is now needed because of changes that have occurred in wage rates and conditions of employment since the rates of charge were last fixed, and because of expected increases which will affect the level of payments to be made by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in respect of long service leave and idle time.
I am pleased to be able to inform the Senate that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has authorised an announcement that part of the increase in the charge will be attributable to new funding arrangements for the guaranteed minimum wage in non-permanent ports. These payments, formerly funded by the employers through a voluntary levy applicable only in non-permanent ports, will now be funded through the statutory charge. At this stage it is not known what changes in the rates of charge will be required on this account. However, it is intended that the cost of funding the guaranteed wage be spread over all ports in such a way as to ensure that a substantial part of the burden is borne by the permanent ports.
In the circumstances, the Government believes that the proper course to follow at this stage is to vary the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act in the way outlined. This amendment will not in itself vary the present rate of the charge. The actual rate of charge is fixed by regulation and any alteration is made after considering a recommendation from the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
– Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Tasmanian Pulp and Forest Holdings Ltd, Triabunna, 77 cents per green ton;
APPM Ltd, Long Reach, from specified areas near the chipmill the rate per green ton depends on radial distance from Long Reach: 0-30 miles, 71 cents; 30-50 miles, 41 cents; 50- 70 miles, 20 cents. From areas in northwestern Tasmania the rate per green ton depends on radial distance from Burnie: 0-30 miles, 71 cents; 30-50 miles, 41 cents; 50-70 miles, 20 cents.
Northern Woodchips Pty Ltd, Long Reach, does not draw from Crown Land, payments to forest owners are subject to private treaty.
Tasmania, the Forestry Commission requires the companies to adopt measures necessary to combat soil erosion and stream pollution such as:
restriction of logging to dry periods in the case of catchment areas for water supply;
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT- On 11th April 1973 the Minister for Minerals and Energy provided an answer to the above question. Subsequently, new information came to hand and the Minister for Minerals and Energy wishes to make the following amendment: 1(b) of the answer, in the first paragraph, should read -
B.O.A. of Australia Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary, of Woodside-Burmah Oil N.L. in which the majority interest is owned by the British based Burmah group.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Is the Minister aware that the administration of Queensland health services has reached an all-time low; if so, will the Minister take appropriate steps to ensure that Queensland is the first State investigated by any Commonwealth committee of inquiry into health factors generally.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is well known that Queensland has been able to spend less than other States per hospital bed to provide adequate staffing, working conditions, equipment and treatment standards overall thanother States and the Federal Territories. This is in part a legacy of some 20 years of discrimination in bed subsidy by previous governments. The policy until recent years was to give the full Commonwealth bed subsidy only for beds occupied by voluntarily insured patients. Because of the Queensland free hospital system most public patients do not have this insurance in Queensland. I shall request Dr Sax, Chairman of the Interim Committee on Hospitals and Health Services, to take Queensland’s special needs into account when recommending Federal assistance to Stales. It will be recalled that our spokesman on Health and Welfare during the 1972 election campaign, now the Minister for Social Security, indicated that the benefit of proposed new rates of subsidy would amount to $22m per year for Queensland.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
October 1971, alleged certain malpractices in nursing homes, particularly in relation to the over-sedating of patients and keeping them in bed to obtain the supplementary nursing homes benefit payable in respect of intensive nursing home care cases. Copies of 6 statutory declarations and one written statement referred to in the above case were made available to my Department. In addition a further 21 cases of alleged malpractices in nursing homes have been brought to the attention of my Department or myself since that date. 1 would add that late in 1971 the New South Wales Minister for Health, the Hon. A. H. Jago, M.L.A., did request a joint Commonwealth/State investigation of the allegations brought to the attention of the New South Wales Parliament. The previous Government declined this request.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Drug Evaluation Committee has distributed to all doctors and drug companies, information dealing with oral contraceptives. Drug Infor mation Circular No. 1 (Oral Contraceptives), September 1969, and Drug Information Circular No. 2 (Oral Contraceptives and Thromboembolic Disease), May 1970 provide doctors and drug companies with a comprehensive statement on contraindications, warnings, precautions, laboratory data and known and suspected side effects associated with oral contraceptives. All companies marketing systemic contraceptives are required to include these data and other prescribing information in package inserts for the medical and allied professions as well as a less technical insert containing information for the patient. A copy of Drug Information Circulars Nos 1 and 2 can be provided if the honourable senator so desires.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What initiatives, if any, have been taken by the internal airline companies to replace their turbo-prop aircraft, now in use and servicing smaller airports, with jets.
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
MacRobertson Miller Airline Services, the ATI subsidiary operating in Western Australia, has withdrawn the turbo-prop F27 and now operates the medium twin jet F28 on the air routes in Western Australia and through to Darwin.
The other internal airlines are keeping the question of jet replacement aircraft under study. Among the aircraft which could be chosen are the Fokker F28, the Boeing B737, the BAC111 and variants of the McDonnell Douglas DC9. No specific proposal for jet aircraft to operate on existing F27 services has yet been made to the Government which will need to consider the related requirements for upgradingof airport and traffic control facilities.
– On 10th April, Senator Townley asked me a question without notice on public servants’ air travel (Hansard, pages 940-1) and I undertook to obtain more information from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has now provided the following information for answer:
This matter is currently, under examination by the Public Service Board and I understand that the Board hopes to bring the examination to a conclusion shortly. The Board, however, has an obligation to consult Staff Associations before final decisions on new travel standards are reached.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730502_senate_28_s55/>.