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Thursday, 29 September 1955

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- If for no other reason, I wish to speak on these Estimates now to thank the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) publicly for the manner in which he has treated me every time I have approached him to make representations on behalf of my constituents. I could not have received more consideration from any one. The Minister has been most courteous and helpful to me and has done everything possible to achieve the results that I wanted and that were for the good of the country generally. I appreciate the Minister's attention to my representations.

From the remarks that members of the Australian Labour party have made about Australia's defence and the sending of forces to Malaya, it appears that, if they want to defend Australia at all - and I am very doubtful about it - they want to defend it on Australian soil. Every member of the Australian Labour party seems to be opposed to service overseas for the protection of Australia. Any one who has seen, in Malaya or other countries, the consequences of invasion, and who can picture the fate of women, children and civilians generally in an invaded country, will pledge himself never to afford any invading force the opportunity of entering Australia and, whenever possible, to send Australian forces overseas to fight our battles on other soil.

We have heard some remarkable speeches on the Defence Estimates. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) stated that the Government cannot obtain troops for the Malaya force except by conscription. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) depicted Malaya as a paradise where houses and servants are freely provided and to which Australian troops will eagerly rush. We have seen thesplit in the Australian Labour party that has resulted in the formation of the antiCommunist Labour party. It appears, from the opinions expressed by two prominent members of the party, that,, on the subject of defence, there is another split in the party. What are we to think about the Australian Labour party?

Sir ERIC Harrison - Do not ask us.

Mr TURNBULL - No one that I may ask will be able to tell me. As a member of this chamber, I have watched the activities of Labour closely for nearly ten years, and I find it impossible to understand that party. I am in the same position as are all Government supporters and as were the members of the present Government parties when they were in opposition. We cannot understand the Australian Labour party. At one time most Labour members expressed individually held views, and now some of them get together and, in fact, suggest that Australia should not fulfil its obligations as a member of the great British Commonwealth of Nations.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr TURNBULL - Before the suspension of the sitting I was pointing out that the honorable member for Hindmarsh had said that it was impossible to get men to go to Malaya voluntarily, and therefore, they had to be conscripted for service there. But the honorable member for Blaxland said, shortly before the honorable member for Hindmarsh spoke, that men would go to Malaya because they are getting houses, servants and good pay there. He more or less said that it was a paradise for the troops. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) expressed still another point of view. He pointed out that the troops had to face all sorts of hazards in Malaya. The views expressed on this matter on the opposite side of the chamber are so inconsistent that it is hard to follow the thinking of the remnants of the Labour party, now that the members who formed the Anti-Communist Labour party have broken away from it. Members of the Opposition have said that there is no enemy in Malaya now, but that if there was a war there the position would be quite different. I do not want to indulge in personal reminiscences, but I was in Malaya for nine continuous months before Pearl Harbour, and at that time there was no sign of war coming to Malaya. Some people were of the opinion that war would not come to Malaya. It was a peaceful place, and the Australian troops stationed there at that time were not engaged in war-like activities. But I say that there is an enemy there now. There are the terrorists in the jungle, who kill people in ambush, regardless of whether they are men, women or children. They murder them at night. The tragedies of that nature in Malaya have been appalling. The terrorists are committing act. against the laws of God and man. Let us be thankful that we have a man like the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), a Christian gentleman who is willing to rise in this chamber and fight in order to obtain some redress against those who are committing lawless outrages in Malaya. It is beyond comprehension that the honorable member for Hindmarsh should criticize him by saying something about his Christian standing. Labour party members have said that there are certain people in Malaya who resent the despatch of Australian troops to that country. I had no doubt about that. I had no doubt that people in Malaya who are friendly and sympathetic towards the terrorists in the jungle do not like Australian troops going there. People do not like a military force to enter a country to fight their friends. But. the large majority of the people of Malaya welcome the Australian troops. The Malay himself is not much of a fighting man, as I know. He is rather timid in his movements and actions, and would appreciate having some real help from Australian troops. I am willing to admit that there are a few people in Malaya, friends of the terrorists, who do not want Australian troops stationed there. I have discovered that in Australia there is also a certain section of the community which does not want Australian troops to be sent to Malaya. Some do not like them coming to Malaya from Australia, and some do not like them going from Australia to Malaya. They are the friends of the terrorists. .Speaking in the terms of the sheep man, if I was on the drafting race I would put them all in the same pen. It is my considered opinion that the people who do not want Australian troops to go to Malaya are exactly the same as those people in Malaya who do not want Australian troops to come there, because their sympathies are with the terrorists.

Mr Francis - With the Communists !

Mr TURNBULL - Yes, with the Communist terrorists. I think that most Australians are proud that this country belongs to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Membership of the Commonwealth is our proud boast, and may it long be so. There are United Kingdom troops and New Zealand troops in Malaya. Let us take pride in being associated with them in trying to wipe out i his scourge of terrorists. Let us be proud of it, and not hang back like the Labour party does, and say we should not do it. After all, what is the foundation of the Labour party's opposition to the sending of troops to Malaya, when all its views are summed up? It has resulted from a decision of the Hobart conference of the Labour party. I should like to ask any Labour supporter opposite who rises to speak in this debate to tell us how many high military officers or tacticians were present at the Hobart conference who could offer sound advice to the delegates. Were there any military officers there, or any men with experience in strategy? A colleague interjects that the right honorable member for Barton was there. I do not think that the right honorable gentleman would claim to be a military leader or a strategist. Honorable members opposite must admit that that conference was absolutely devoid of any sound advice as to the real merits of the situation, and acted only on grounds of political expediency. The delegates to that conference thought they might get the support of some weak-kneed Australians, but the Australian people are awake to those things. They are proud of their servicemen.

I deplore the fact that a member of the Labour party said to-day that Australian men were going to Malaya to cause trouble. I do not wish to repeat statements .hat I have made in this chamber at other times, but constant repetition of statements, true or false, is a technique of the Labour party, so I shall have no hesitation now in repeating my view that no matter to what part of the world Australian troops have gone, they have been our finest ambassadors. Does any honorable member think they are going to Malaya on a quest for gain? Does anybody think they are going to try to out- rage a weaker nation by lawless conquest ? As I heard a politician say some years ago, "Let us thank God their mission is as pure and noble as any soldiers ever undertook to rid the world of would-be tyrants ". Let us have faith in our men. We must be proud of them, and try not to speak about them in a way that will detract from their renown; and as memory is a part of the human mind, let us always fight against any attempt to depreciate the story of their deeds of valour, or their renown, or honour in which we hold them.

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