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Tuesday, 2 April 1957


Mr GALVIN (Kingston) .- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) expressed the opinion that history would finally record that Sir Anthony Eden's actions, and the actions of the British, French and Israeli governments in invading Egypt were correct. Be that as it may, history will also record that the United Kingdom Government failed in its duty consult the members of the British Commonwealth before taking such action. Ho can we hope that the United Nations will succeed, that its decisions will be obeyed by member nations when the United Kingdom Government itself fails to consult member nations and their respective heads when it intends to engage in a policy that could bring about world conflict? It is quite obvious that the United Kingdom Government did not consult Canada, India or even the United States of America because it knew very well that its actions would not be approved. We should set an example to those nations which comprise the United Nations and show them that the members ot the British Commonwealth are prepared : co-operate and unite in acting on a com mon basis.

This debate upon the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on foreign affairs will serve a very useful purpose if the Minister and the Government are prepared to accept the views put forward in this House by honorable members, regardless of where they sit, and finally pursue an Australian policy based on the views of the members of this Parliament. It is obvious, of course, that we must always remain a strong link in the British Commonwealth despite the actions of the United Kingdom Government. We must be prepared to overlook the mistakes that have been made.

We must do everything possible to strengthen the ties that bind the members of the British Commonwealth. It is also of paramount importance that we co-operate to the utmost with the United States of America. Co-operation with the United States should always be in the forefront of our minds when international problems arise. We should never allow ourselves to forget the comradeship that existed between the United States and Australia during the last war. History has recorded the appeal made to the United States by that great Australian war-time Prime Minister, John Curtin, and the answer that came quickly, when the enemy was at our very gate. If we are ever involved again in a world conflict we shall possibly be seeking once more the support of our great neighbour. There is no doubt that that support will be forthcoming. But we could not expect that support if we took actions like that of Sir Anthony Eden in relation to the Suez affair, when he moved without waiting to consult such an important ally as the United States. No sensible person, however, would expect us always to agree with the policy of the United States, but I suggest that, in regard to our foreign policy, we should be careful when we criticize actions of the United States that conflict with our own desires or actions, we do not allow criticism to turn into hate. I feel that that can easily happen. In this House, at times, honorable members on both sides have allowed their criticisms of the United States to develop into almost a hatred of the policy of that country. Over the Suez Canal affair, of course, our relationship with the United States fell to an all-time low, and I sincerely hope that, now tha, .hat lies in the past, we are beginning to come together again and a stronger alliance between us will be built.

We of the Australian Labour party differ greatly from the policy of the United States and of the Menzies Government with respect to tuc recognition of Communist China. As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has said, there can be no argument that the only government on the mainland of China to-day is the so-called " People's Government ", the Chinese Communist Government. The United Kingdom recognized Communist China many years ago, but, to be quite fair, probably her early recognition was due to the fact that a total of about £300,000,000 worth of British capital was invested in China, and some representation was needed through which that capital could at least be preserved. The Australian Government will be forced, at some time, to recognize Communist China. We believe that that time is long overdue.

To-night, the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, clearly, the importance of trade to Australia. Our trading with China would not mean that we subscribed to the views and ways of the Communist Government of China; but, as a nation, we cannot afford to ignore a government so entrenched as the Communist Government of China, which rules a population of about 600,000,000.

The fate of the nations in Asia, the battle for the minds of the Asian people, will not be decided on the issue of whether or not the Australian Government recognizes the government of red China. I believe that the best way for us to win the confidence of the Asian people is through an extension of the Colombo plan. I believe we can extend greatly the help given under that plan. The Colombo plan, as all honorable members know, is a scheme for promoting the economic and technical advancement of the under-developed countries of SouthEast Asia. The basic concept of the plan is international co-operation - co-operation not for the continued prosperity of the few, but for the extension of that prosperity to the many.

As has been said to-night already, the Colombo plan began with a conference of Commonwealth foreign ministers at

Colombo in January, 1950. It soon spread to include all the nations in the area as members - 21 of them, all told. At the beginning those nations were roughly divided into two sections - donors and recipients, the former donating to the latter either capital equipment or technical aid. Australia, Canada, Japan. New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States were the donor countries, and at that time the recipient countries numbered fifteen or sixteen. The position has changed greatly since the plan was evolved. In fact, some of the nations originally only on the receiving end of the plan have now attained the position of donors. Ceylon, India and Pakistan are now donors as well as recipients under the plan. The problems in many of the countries of the plan area are essentially the same - poverty, rapid population growth and the absence of large-scale industrial development. The area contains about one-quarter of the world's population which exists on only 6 per cent, of the world's land area. Any efforts to raise the standard of living of these people might be of little avail but for the saving fact that the region is rich in natural resources and capable of yielding, in response to modern methods of production, far more liberally than was previously thought possible. Despite the pressing needs of the people these resources remain to a large extent undeveloped because of a barrier caused by lack of capital, equipment and technique.

As I have said, the Colombo plan is divided into two sections - the capital aid side and the technical aid side. The capital aid section seeks primarily to promote the progress of projects undertaken by national governments in the area, with equipment and supplies which could not be locally produced or for which the internal finance required was not available in the countries concerned. We have supplied much-needed equipment for road-making, hydroelectricity production, transport, diesel buses and many other items. On the technical side we have provided training facilities for students from Asia and assistance in the development of training facilities in the area itself.

The progress of the plan, and projects under the plan, have been discussed each year at meetings of the consultative committee, but whilst much progress has been made a great deal remains to be done. I believe that Australia is in a position to assist greatly in this matter. Our ties with our Asian neighbours are close. Australia, whose nationhood was attained in this century, and whose economy is in a rapidly growing but still youthful stage, has much in its experience and its social, political and economic structure and outlook that corresponds with the requirements and outlooks of the newly born nations of South-East Asia. This, with her geographical proximity to the area, adds value to Aus.tarlia's contribution to the Colombo plan.

The emphasis in Australia's contribution has been on the provision of capital equipment. Indeed, of the £18,000,000 expended on the Colombo plan up to September, 1956, £15,600,000 has been expended on providing capital aid, and only £2,400,000 on the provision of the technical know-how. It is to be hoped that this aid will not only continue, but will be increased. We all know about the trucks, tractors, road-making equipment and so forth that we have handed over to those nations. The provision of such equipment would, of course, be of little use if the recipients lacked the knowledge of how to operate it. Because of that, I believe that we should pay more attention to the training side of the plan.

Australia's gift of diesel buses to Indonesia aroused great criticism in this country because every State in the Commonwealth badly needs buses and other forms of public transport. People found it hard to understand how we could be in a position to supply buses free to our Asian neighbours, yet cannot supply them for the needs of our own people. The Australian people are completely behind any scheme to train Asian personnel. Let us consider for a moment the impact of our gift on an Asian nation. How much better it would have been if 100 students from Asia could have lived with us, learned to understand our ways, and returned home as ambassadors for the democratic way of life. At present eight times more capital aid than technical aid is offered. To me, that seems to be quite out of proportion. A 50-50 basis would be much more appropriate. Australia has ample scope for the training of Asians and I believe that, slowly, but surely, we are capturing the enthusiasm of the people of South and South-East Asia. I believe that if we could increase technical aid we would make such gains that social misery in Asia would vanish more quickly than any of us would have thought possible a short time ago.

Though we are making headway under the Colombo plan, the United Kingdom, by contemplating the explosion of a hydrogen bomb at Christmas Island, is destroying much of the goodwill that has been gained Japan has protested strongly against these tests and one cannot help but feel that if we were the Japanese we too would be most vociferous in our protests. It has been reported that every political group in that country is united in this matter. The opposition there is broader and more unified than it has been during any previous test.

The danger zone around Christmas Island is 60,000 square miles greater than at Bikini. The loss to the fishing industry as the result of the Bikini test was estimated at £3,000,000 for the year. That area is a relatively poor fishing area compared with Christmas Island, which the Japanese regard as the richest in the Pacific. More than 200 ocean-going fishing boats operate at Christmas Island. Surely the Japanese have good reason to protest. It would have been hard to find a place, farther away from London, at which to conduct the tests. If the prevailing winds from Christmas Island were in the direction of Australia, and not Japan, I wonder if we would be so quiet about the tests.

The Japanese Central Meteorological Bureau has issued an official statement refuting Great Britain's claim about radioactive fall-out. Eleven years ago Japan suffered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese now claim that research undertaken since has convinced them that they know more about radiation dangers than does any other country. They have certainly suffered more!

The development of atomic weapons has now reached such dimensions that the people of the world are terrified at the prospect of an atomic war. Indeed, I have no doubt that the majority of people are opposed to continued experimentation with nuclear weapons, and the danger that is associated with such tests. Renewed efforts should be made to call a halt to such experiments. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) said, "Well, Russia continues to test these bombs ". I realize that. If Russia continues to do so, it seems logical that the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States of America must follow suit. But that does not prevent us from seeking agreement with those nations on the abandonment of such tests. We believe in full support for the United Nations, irrespective of whether its decisions are. pleasing to us or not.

Earlier to-night reference has been made to the Suez Canal and the need for Israeli shipping to pass through Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. It is to be hoped that the United Nations and the great powers will support such a scheme and will be more diligent in their advocacy than they were before the Suez crisis began. No one was very much concerned then that Israel did not have the use of the canal. Of course, Egypt has stated repeatedly that she will never recognize Israel. But Israel was virtually born of the United Nations and is surely entitled to its protection, if she is in the right. She has withdrawn from the battle area now, and it is up to the United Nations to honour its obligations. Israel has asked that Egypt should be requested to abandon its policy of boycott and blockade and to observe its obligation under the pact of the United Nations, which states that member nations should live at peace. That is the challenge, not only to Egypt but also to all members of the United Nations - to live at peace with member nations. I know that it is easy to say, " So and so won't do it ". It is easy to criticize the United Nations. Very often people ask why it has not been more successful. I have often wondered why it has been as successful as it has. If it is to work, all nations must consult each other, co-operate, and abide by its decisions. To return to the action of Sir Anthony Eden over the Suez Canal, if the member nations of the British Commonwealth cannot agree, or co-operate, it is asking a lot for the members of the United Nations to reach agreement. However, this does not mean that we should give up trying.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order!The honorable member's time has expired.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Stokes) adjourned.







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