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Thursday, 11 April 1957


Mr BOWDEN (Gippsland) .- I am very glad to be relieved of the responsibility of criticizing the speech of the preceding speaker, because, as is his custom, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has made a very thoughtful contribution to the debate. But world politics or foreign affairs, whichever term be used, no matter how much they are padded, how much they are affected by incidents that happen in different parts of the world, fall into two simple categories. One of those is the determined efforts of Communist influences not only to subvert the peace and good order, but also to undermine the stability of the free democratic nations. The second category consists of those who, by divers means, are trying to protect themselves against this form of attack. I make no pretence that I will be able to offer anything in the way of a solution to world problems, and. although it may seem strange to some people. I am not feeling the slightest bit lonely in this House as the result of that.

I should like to comment briefly on two aspects of foreign affairs. The very full and factual statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on the world political situation initiated a debate in which we have heard expressed various shades of opinion. Unfortunately, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) suggested, some of the speeches have been condemnatory of our friends and, therefore, must be uplifting and to the great advantage in morale of those who, we think for the moment, are our enemies.

I must pause for a moment to ask why this is so. Are Australians becoming less resolute in their determination to manage their own affairs than they were a few years ago? Is it because of the moral decadence of this world, and particularly of the political world? Or is it because of this insidious communistic propaganda to which I have referred, which never relaxes? Whether in victory or in defeat, it is continued and its effect would be to induce in weaker elements among the nations a defeatist attitude which would cause them to ask, "What is the use of resistance?" Which of these things have we got to look for as the reason for statements by Australians which, I think, will be advantageous to our enemies and uplifting to their morale? We are all familiar with the saying that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. To translate that into modern terms, the free world is fiddling while Communist propaganda is undermining the resistance "of several countries whose geographical position is important to the success of the cold war being waged against us by the Russians. This cold war is being relentlessly waged and, I will say, against Great Britain in particular.

Russia has hemmed herself in, or ringed herself round, with a number of small nations whom she has jackbooted into submission. Russia has resorted to threatening or trying to bluff European nations that, if they dare to allow to be established in their territories bases that may mean their survival as free countries, they can expect to come under duress, possibly from Russia. But, to their credit, those nations have shown that they are not bluffed easily.

If my contention is correct, and the cold war with its accompanying Communist propaganda is directed chiefly against Great Britain - and here I am at variance with a distinguished member of the Opposition, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) - I think we should look for the reasons why that is so. For hundreds of years, Great Britain has been the greatest civilizing and the greatest colonizing power in the world. Great Britain has been ever ready to go to the defence, at great sacrifice to herself, of the weaker nation. She has ever been willing to take up arms in defence of the nations that she considered to be in the right. She has ever been willing to provide a haven of refuge for the politically oppressed of all nations, regardless of the class, colour or creed of the refugees. Wherever the flag of Britain has flown, it has meant peace and security to whoever has sought protection under it. Of course, if the cold war is to succeed for Russia, the great prestige and influence of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth and Empire have to be undermined. Therefore, every device that is known to twisted, and, I will add, godless minds, has been set in motion in the cold war which, 1 repeat, is directed particularly against the British world.

I say that this cold war was halted - or at least an attempt was made to halt it - by the intervention of Great Britain and France over the Suez Canal. I will say, further, that I believe that if Great Britain and France had not so intervened, Egypt, and possibly other countries of the Arab world, would now be in the process of becoming satellites of the Soviet Union. Great Britain and France moved in on Suez with split-second timing. They knew exactly when to go in, and I think that they averted, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports suggested, at least for the time being, a Russian take-over in the Middle East, lt is said that Great Britain and France have lost prestige as a result of the action that they took. I agree that they have lost prestige - but not as a result of going into Suez. They have lost prestige as a result of coming out again before they had finished the job.

The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) knows perfectly well that the Governments of Great Britain and France are elected on a democratic franchise, exactly as is the Government of Australia. Vet, he sought to drive a wedge between the people of Great Britain and France and their governments on this issue. He said. '' lt is not the people's fault; we do not blame them; it is purely and simply their governments". Can we believe that that right honorable member ''as not seen the result of gallup polls held both in Britain and Australia subsequent to the intervention in the Middle East? Those polls showed that a substantial majority of people in both countries were on the side of the governments of France and Britain. Furthermore, a large percentage of that majority agreed that France and Britain should have completed the job instead of getting out when they did. Therefore the honorable member loses ground by trying to interfere in the domestic and political affairs of other countries, trying to create false impressions or trying to drive these wedges between the people and their own elected governments.

It has been said that if you want to lose a friend lend him some money, or in some other way place him under an obligation which he might find it difficult to get out of. That is equally true of nations, and it is noticeable that the nations which owe the greatest amount to Great Britain are the ones which are kicking the hardest. I think I can understand it when irresponsibles regard repudiation of a contract or an obligation as the simplest way of paying, but I find it very difficult to understand anything of a derogatory nature being said in Australia about our own Mother Country. We should remember that in the first 100 years of our existence we developed in peace and security, without any responsibility at all for our own defence, because of the existence of the British Navy - a navy that was ever ready to come to our assistance if we were threatened. I say that with all due regard to the fact that we have played our own part since. When we grew to nationhood we took our part and helped defend ourselves, but since the factors of time and space are no longer important in defence, it would appear that there are people who believe that we can do without Britain's protection and that we can jump on the band wagon of her enemies and pui the boot in just as they are doing. 1 think it is to our shame that such voices should be raised in this Parliament, and there have been many voices so raised.


Mr Duthie - lt has not come from anybody in this House.


Mr BOWDEN - The pattern in the Middle East has been perfectly clear from the beginning to any discerning person. No matter what day-to-day excuses were offered, the pattern was the same. Behind all the excuses was the fact that Britain had to move out of the canal zone and out of Egypt. Next, for no apparent reason at all. Britain had to leave Jordan. Next Britain was urged to leave Cyprus. If 1 may use an inapt analogy, this is the point where the worm turned. Britain refused to get out of Cyprus. The Leader of the Labour party condemned Britain also because she did not jeopardize her security by surrendering to a Communist-inspired uprising and walking out of Cyprus, regardless of what t'->e consequences of giving self-determination to this small state might have been.


Mr Cairns - Does the honorable member contend that the uprising in Cyprus was Communist-inspired?


Mr BOWDEN - I want to say again to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that the Leader of the Labour party had not one single syllable to utter when Communist China, by force of arms, annexed probably the most inoffensive country in the world - Tibet. So we have to conclude that his attitude is that what is wrong for Britain and France to-day is eminently right for Russia and red China.

Now it is said by certain members of the Labour party that it is heresy to criticize or to speak in derogatory manner about the United Nations organization. But how many honorable members in this House have expressed themselves very forcibly on the inadequacy of the United Nations organization in such matters as this Middle East dispute? If we take a line through a number of speeches of honorable members opposite on foreign affairs we find that the Opposition's foreign policy consists of complete reliance on the United Nations to resolve all difficulties, domestic and otherwise. The United Nations was never created for any such purpose. I agree that the United Nations organization is a splendid ideal and that if it were given a fair trial by all its members, not just some of them, it could become. the greatest stabilizing force that this world has ever known. It must be given a fair trial, but its continued importance depends on its ability to enforce its decisions, and if it is no more successful in this regard in the future than it has been in the past, it must inevitably become a monument of blasted hopes buried in the oblivion which is the resting place of another great ideal - the old League of Nations, which was started in exactly the same way.

Up to date the United Nations organization has been effectively defied by Egypt on the passage of ships through the canal. It has been effectively defied by Russia in the problem of Hungary. The Korean question remains unresolved. An armistice line has existed there for something like two years, and armed forces are still on either side of it. The same can be said of the Israeli-Jordan dispute - another armistice line with armed forces on each side of it and the solution of the problem as far away as ever. So with all the goodwill in the world, the United Nations organization will never be entirely effective as long as the reactionary powers in the Security Council have the power to veto every single thing that is advanced by the democratic powers of the world.

The General Assembly, which we have looked upon as being a body capable of doing something in spite of a veto, is dissolving to-day into groups which vote en bloc, regardless of the international merit of the question they are deciding. We saw what happened in the Middle East dispute where a group called the Afro-Asian group voted en bloc regardless of merits. If the United Nations continues on those lines it might as well be wound up, because it is supposed to be a deliberative assembly and not an aggregation of self-interested blocs of countries.


Mr Cairns - You will get it wound up if you can.


Mr BOWDEN - I would wind it up if it were not effective. I would not pretend. I would say to the public of the world, " Put your faith in this. Your hope lies in building it up so that it will be effective; but if it is not effective, do not let it deceive you any further ". In the last war there was a song called " Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition ". Well, 1 would say in regard to the United Nations, " Strengthen it and support it to the very maximum of your ability, but in matters of national security keep your powder dry ". On the subject of Korea, the honorable member for Yarra may be better informed than I am. But I can say without any fear of contradiction that if America had not provided its mobile forces in Japan at the time of the North Korean intervention, South Korea would have been over-run before the United Nations could have acted.

I challenge the honorable member to say that if the United Nations had been presented with a " fait accompli ", it would have dared to intervene and risk a major war with Russia at that time. Unquestionably, Russia was behind that aggression by North Korea. I say with equal confidence that if Britain and France had not called the tune in the Suez Canal business the United Nations would never have moved in. If Britain and France did no more than that, they did, at least, spur the United

Nations into some form of activity that has met with some success up to date. But the canal position to-day is exactly as it was before they went in.


Mr Bryant - What did they achieve?


Mr BOWDEN - They stopped the fighting. Nasser apparently dictates the policy for the operation of the canal as he did in those days. Time will not allow me to talk for too long on this subject. I want to go on to another matter. I warn people to put their hope, if they like, in the United Nations, but in order to be effective, the organization must be reconstituted or given something whereby it can do the things which it says it will do.

On the matter of nuclear experiments, various opinions have been expressed. The cessation of all nuclear experiments would place at a disadvantage all the democratic nations. I have no doubt whatever that many very worthy people, who are actuated by purely humanitarian motives, are joining in this demand. But they know perfectly well that there is no chance whatever of compelling Russia to do anything that it does not want to do.

Mr. ACTING DEPUTYSPEAKER.Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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