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Thursday, 31 March 1966


Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- The last few words of the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) gave us a general idea of his thoughts on this subject. He said that at the next elections Government supporters will pay the price for their actions. That was the dominant theme of his speech. He said also that members of the Country Party were not bad fellows. How could he possibly feel that way after all the things he said about us? 1 have been friendly with the honorable member for many years. He is a decent fellow, but his speech tonight was the lowest I have heard in 20 years in this Parliament. Surely all honorable members will agree with me.


Mr Bryant - The honorable member is hiding behind the uniforms of other people.


Mr TURNBULL - I am not hiding behind anybody's uniform. The honorable member for Wills can get that idea right out of his head. I submit that in his mood tonight the honorable member for Kingston was in no fit condition to speak in the Commonwealth Parliament.

As regards sales to Communist China of wheat and wool, it has been fully explained on other occasions that if China did not buy our surplus wheat she would obtain supplies from some other country. I stress that the wheat we sell to China is surplus wheat. I have said this on many occasions. I have said that I favour selling only our surplus wheat to China. The arguments employed by the honorable member for Kingston were ridiculous. We have an open market for wool in this country. People from any country may come here and bid for and buy our wool. If we were to refuse to allow China to buy wool on the open market, she would get some other country to buy it for her. The arguments of honorable members opposite on this subject are fallacious.

The honorable member for Kingston ranted and pointed his finger, claiming that Government supporters will pay for their actions. Can we accept the honorable member as an expert on what happens in wars? Only this week I heard a member of the Labour Party say that young boys of 19 are being called up. His words are recorded in " Hansard ". The truth is that people called up for national service training are 20 years of age. Notwithstanding that, I do not think that a youth 19 or 20 years of age is a young boy. He is not. These matters are exaggerated. Young boys of 19 indeed. I know of many young people who enlisted in the First World War as soon as they turned 18. They had the consent of their parents to enlist. A lot has been made by the Opposition of the reaction of mothers of young men called up. A lot depends on the outlook of the mothers. Reference has been made to a Victorian woman whose husband was killed in Vietnam. She has said that her husband did not want to go to Vietnam. She has my greatest sympathy.

A woman in Hamilton, whose son was wounded, was taken over to Vietnam by the Army. When she came back she said that it was distressing to see him, but she was pleased that he went to serve this country. It must be remembered by members of this Parliament that the young men who are being called up today owe the privilege of living in this free country to the men who laid down their lives in two great world wars.


Mr Bryant - But not dirty wars.


Mr TURNBULL - It may be a dirty war in Vietnam, but it is not less important in upholding the principle of freedom for which this country stands.

In the last sessional period of Parliament I found fault with the Opposition and any other Australians who have tried to work up a case against Australia's participation in the war in Vietnam, as we have heard the honorable member for Kingston try to do tonight. Only the other day people from the " Save our Sons " movement visited Canberra. On their first visit to Canberra I agreed to speak with them. They came to my office. If they read this account of their visit they will know it to be completely true. I treated them with the greatest courtesy but told them that I did not agree with what they were saying. Last week they returned to Canberra and asked me questions about the conscripts in Vietnam. I said that I would like to ask them a question in order to discover what was the basis of their advocacy. I said: " Do you believe, apart altogether from conscripts, that Australia should have troops in Vietnam associated with the American forces? " One lady answered rather reluctantly. She seemed not to want to answer the question. However, they all answered it and said that they believed we should not have troops in Vietnam. I rather liked one kindly lady who said to me as they left my office: "Look, Mr. Turnbull. I do not think we should have war at all. We should not have fighting." I said: "If someone came into my office and attacked my secretary, do you think I should sit and do nothing? "

I have said before in this Parliament that at the time of the cold war Communism was pushing across Asia and getting nearer to our shores. Honorable members on this side of the chamber then said that someone has to say: "So far and no further." The United States of America said that. American forces were sent to block the surge of Communism in South East Asia.

The old story has been told again and again but does not seem to sink in with people who do not want to believe it. It was said that under the treaty of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States- A.N.Z.U.S.- we had to honour our obligations. They must be treated as honorable agreements if we are to hope that in the future, if we are in peril, America will come to our aid. We have a great alliance with the United States and I hope there will never be any dividing line, save the seas, between us.

Some people say that America is trying to run Australia and that it has too much influence in this country. The United States will never have the influence on Australia that Great Britain has had. The Americans speak the English language. Their forebears came across from England in the " Mayflower ". We are very closely associated with the United States; more closely associated than with any other countries except Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Because we are closely associated with the United States we must ally ourselves with that country in its struggle in Vietnam. I deplore the state of affairs that has been reached in this House when the Queen's Opposition tries to work up a case against Australia's participation in Vietnam. I am aware that it is a jungle war. It is much the same as the battle that was fought for Singapore in the Second World War.

Word reaching our troops in Vietnam of what honorable members are saying in this House is most discouraging. They have gone to Vietnam to play their part in ridding the world of would-be tyrants. Therefore I deplore the speeches that have been made tonight. I think the honorable member for Kingston made the lowest speech I have heard in this House. I regard him as a friend of mine but I deplore the speech he made tonight. I do not think that if he were in his right senses, speaking outside the House, he would say that, but he proved what he desired to convey when he finally said "You will pay for this at the next election ".







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