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Thursday, 4 April 1957

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- The House is debating a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) dealing with the foreign policy of the Australian Government. Nothing that the Minister has said has helped in any way to increase friendship among the nations of the world or, in any way, to minimize the feeling of hostility and bitterness that pervades the world at the present time. Nor has the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) made any contribution to the solution of world problems. Not one ray of hope has emerged from the speech of the Minister for External Affairs.

I should like to commence my remarks by asking, " What is the basis of a foreign policy? " In my opinion, it should be the preservation of our way of life, and our form of society and our cherished institutions. It ought to have regard for the rule of law, for the secret vote, parliamentary democracy, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, habeas corpus and our free trade unions. We should never forget the strivings that were necessary to win these victories for the people of Australia and the people of the world. Any consideration of foreign policy ought to have regard for all those features. In considering the preservation of them, it is all-important and should never be forgotten that we also ought to think in the terms of the years in which we live and of the dread weapons of war and destruction which hang over the heads of the people of the world. If we do all these things, we will be rational in facing the problems which beset mankind at the present time. Before there are any excursions into the realms of international affairs or any acts of aggression which could result in a world war with its wanton destruction of human life and the destruction of society as we know it at the present time, sensible people - people who are concerned about mankind and the things we have won for mankind - ought to weigh these issues. If we weigh these issues I think we will try to seek a means of real peace.

Despite the views expressed by the Minister for Health concerning the exaggerated fears of the Opposition, I think there is room for real fear. Anybody who stands in his place in this Parliament or outside it to-day and says that there is no room for fear or concern, while atomic and hydrogen bombs are being prepared as guided missiles with ranges of 1,500 miles and more, should tell us precisely what is cause for concern to-day. I suggest that there is room for concern about these matters. Those honorable members who recently attended a school to consider these matters came back with thoughts quite different from those expressed by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). I understand that they were told quite clearly that there is no positive defence against attack with nuclear weapons.

What has this Government done in an endeavour to protect the people of Australia? It has simply continued to encourage the growth of big cities on our coast. In New South Wales, in the very heart of the iron and steel industry, in the area in which we now have tha large cities of Sydney, Port Kembla and Newcastle, the Government is continuing to build. For example, it is building a nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, in the metropolitan area. This Government's policy has been to build up big cities on the coast to the detriment of the development of country districts and the dispersal of industries and services essential to our survival. We ought to be concerned about these matters. I venture to suggest that the recent statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in connexion with defence should be discussed together with the matter now before us, because both subjects are closely related. It is necessary that we pay some attention to these matters. We should even consider the question of the investigation into wool, and its development. Where are those laboratories situated? They are in the metropolitan area of Sydney! Would it not have been better to have had them at Bathurst, Canberra, or somewhere in the electorate of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), somewhere behind the Great Dividing Range? Of course, it would have been. Yet, this Government, which talks about the defence of this country and professes to be so concerned about the security of this land, exposes us completely to enemy attack. It is little wonder that the people are apprehensive about these matters.

I desire to speak about the need for peace. There is need to proceed with a campaign for real peace in this world. I deprecate as much as anybody else does any attack by any honorable member upon a friendly country. That should not be done here. We ought to be trying to build bridgeheads of understanding and friendship with the countries of the world. It is easy to list the nations which played their part in the various struggles that have taken place. It would be an easy matter to declare that Great Britain stood alone, that certain other countries came in only at the last minute and made no contribution at all. It would be an easy matter to say that certain leading parliamentarians and politicians of certain countries collaborated with the Japanese. That could be said about many leaders in the world, but I do not think we should single out individuals in that respect. We ought to be trying to build up greater friendship in the world, especially with our neighbours immediately to the north. In striving for peace, we should never cease to develop everything we have at our disposal in our attempt to build up better understanding. We should never in any way try to magnify the differences which divide the various countries of the world. It is important that we preserve what we have. At no time should we be prepared to subtract in any way from the things we have fully established in this country. We should never surrender them in any circumstances at all. If we are to retain them, we can do so, first, by trying to work for peace; and, secondly, by doing the essential things which any government ought to do in order to preserve our way of life.

We should insist upon building up the United Nations organization. It is pleasing to know that this Government is making a contribution in that respect, but it is a sad and tragic state of affairs when we hear responsible Ministers in this Parliament attacking the United Nations organization because it is not prepared to concede to governments the right to take certain attitudes and actions without collaboration with the United Nations. I point to the Suez issue as an example, and I say more in sadness than in anger that it was a great tragedy that the United Kingdom Government failed to consult the dominion governments in that matter. How can we be partners in these questions unless there is consultation? Again, in a matter of this magnitude, why should the United Kingdom Government take a course of action without consulting the United States of America? Surely, such consultation was necessary? I say these things more in sadness than in anger because I believe that they are important things which must be said. I believe that the outcome of that action has been mischievous; it has been dangerous and it has been charged with difficulty from the point of view we hold in the world at the present time. lt endangered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; it injured the British reputation, and ours, to some extent, among the Asian people. In doing that, it hurt Australia's cause in a part of the world where there are many millions of people with whom we ought to be developing friendly relations. Because the Government of the United Kingdom failed in that respect, and because this Government, willy-nilly, carried Australia along with that policy, we were involved, despite the fact that Parliament was not given an opportunity to express itself upon the matter.

Hungary has been mentioned. 1 have no intention of evading that question at all. 1 think it is one of the greatest tragedies that have occurred during my lifetime. It is comparable with the great tragedy of Warsaw where, when trying to overthrow the German overlords near the termination of the war, the people were shockingly murdered. The Russians, who were our allies in that fight, were prepared to allow those people to be destroyed. One reason why 1 think the tragedy of Hungary unfolded was that Great Britain was committed and involved in the Suez Canal problem. If it had not been for that fact, I believe the Russians would not have returned to Hungary, and that there was quite a possibility that the Hungarians would have won their freedom. I believe, too, that the Hungarians were then engaged in a mass expression of their opinion. It was an expression by people of all shades and walks of life - students, miners, people of all occupations, soldiers - all joining in to say, " We, the people of Hungary, want to run and rule our country in our own way, free from the imposition of the will of anybody outside our country ". I do not think any honorable member in this chamber would refuse to subscribe to that point of view. That unhappy state of affairs has occurred; it belongs to history. I trust that in my lifetime such a thing will not be repeated.

Quite recently, I had the privilege, with other honorable members, to visit certain Asian countries. I assure the House that the reactions of our neighbours in the near north to the Suez crisis were very unfavorable. It was a most unfortunate state of affairs for Australia. But I can also assure the House that Australia's reputation in the near north is extremely high with the Asian people, who believe that the Australians are a freedom-loving people. The Asians are satisfied that we have no territorial aspirations, that we do not want any one else's country, and that we do not want to impose our will upon any other nation or groups of people, and they are also well aware of our great generosity under the Colombo plan. They are mindful, too, of our great development from colonial dependence to nationhood, and of our great advantages which I enumerated at the outset of my remarks, including the right to form trade unions, the rule of law, and government under a parliamentary democracy. All of these things are appreciated by our northern neighbours.

Representatives of the Philippines whom the parliamentary party had the privilege of meeting overseas told us with considerable satisfaction that our system of voting in parliamentary elections, which the Filipinos had adopted, had helped them along the road to nationhood under a democratic form of government. We were well received everywhere, and Australia is well respected. But I should like to take the opportunity to say that we should go farther in trying to establish closer ties with our neighbours to the north. I pay tribute to the Minister for External Affairs for his wisdom in providing a fund to make it possible for members of the Parliament to visit Asian countries. I think it is vitally necessary that we should achieve a better understanding of the people to the north of Australia, and that we should be able to meet the leaders, trade unionists, and people from all walks of life in those countries in order to understand them and their problems better. Not one of the people that I met in the countries to the north of Australia said a word against our immigration policy, but many words of appreciation were said about our activities under the Colombo plan in giving aid to Asian countries by sending them mechanical equipment, poultry, and animals of various kinds. All of this aid is very much appreciated by the people of the countries to which it is sent. But most appreciation of all is accorded to the way in which we have taken Asian students into this country to study at our universities, and especially to the way in which we have accepted them into our homes. The kindness and generosity of the Australian people which has been shown in this way is greatly appreciated. Any Australian who has helped in even the smallest way in making Asian students happy in this country deserves the gratitude and thanks of the Parliament and the Government for assisting, in a true sense, in building a bridgehead of understanding between the people of Australia and of Asia, with whom we have to live, and greatly improving relations between them.

The Colombo plan has been very successful, but I think future emphasis should not be placed so much on material assistance. Perhaps it is wise to make small gifts of poultry, animals, and the like to the poorer people of the villages in Asia, but the most important need of all is education, and we must direct our efforts towards educating them and giving them a proper understanding of our way of life. We should give Asian students in Australia technical knowledge so that, when they return to their villages, towns, and cities, they will be able to speak with appreciation of our way of life, which is the Western way of life, and translate that understanding into an expression of the goodwill that they bear towards the people of Australia.

Indonesia, our immediate neighbour to the north, is one of the troubled parts of the world. We should think constructively about the great difficulties being encountered' there, lt will not solve any problems if we attack any of the Indonesian leaders. It is tragic for Australia that the vast collection of islands in Indonesia, stretching from Sumatra through Java and the Celebes to Borneo, which could become an important security screen and a bulwark of Australia's defence, has been divided and now lacks a secure government. We should be infinitely more secure than we are at thepresent time if there were in Indonesia a government with secure and complete control of all Indonesian territory functioning in much the same fashion as the government of a parliamentary democracy such as Australia, and viewing the world's problems generally as we view them. Indonesia's difficulties are the difficulties of Australia also. However, when I say that, I do not suggest that the people of Australia have the right to impose their will upon the people of Indonesia, to attempt to impose upon them any particular form of government, or to tell them that there is only one road to travel and one course of action to take. But we should endeavour to promote solidity, strength, and permanence of government in Indonesia in order to provide a very necessary screen and buffer between us and the countries to the north of Indonesia from whence trouble could eventually come. We should do our utmost to promote strength of government in Indonesia in our time and to bring closer together the leaders of the various groups in that country. Perhaps there is hope that the Moslem parties there will achieve that. I sincerely hope that they will unite the people of Indonesia more closely and give them a better appreciation of their own problems. If they come to understand the attitude of Australia and the other western countries a little better, it will be much better for Australia in particular.

I cannot deal with all the other countries of Asia this afternoon, but I should like to mention particularly the kindness and hospitality with which we parliamentarians were received in Malaya, South Viet Nam, Singapore and Thailand, the hospitable and generous people of which treated us magnificently. I should like to pay tribute especially to the people of South Viet Nam, who have taken more than 1,000,000 refugees from Communist North Viet Nam. Even in the brief period that we spent in South Viet Nam, we learned that more than 650,000 of those refugees had been settled, mostly on the land. That was an outstanding achievement. We were assured that those who had not already been settled would be settled by the end of this month. That magnificent achievement has been made possible only by the generous aid given by many countries. Australia has contributed generously to this help. I ask the Parliament and the people of Australia to look with kindness, sympathy, and friendliness upon our northern neighbours, and to try to understand and appreciate them. Let us all go forward in our efforts to make this a better world for all to live in and enjoy a fair share in the great prosperity that every one is entitled to share.

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

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