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Thursday, 11 April 1957

Mr DEAN (Robertson) .- During the several years that 1 have been a member of this House. 1 have taken every opportunity to plead that as many honorable members as possible should visit the countries to the near north of Australia. It was, therefore, with great pleasure that, a few weeks ago, I was able to report to the House the visit of an Australian parliamentary delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference at Bangkok. As the House now knows, that delegation was able to visit other countries when the conference concluded. It had the opportunity of going to the republic of Viet Nam, to Singapore, to Malaya, and to Indonesia.

The basis of the remarks that I wish to address to the House to-night is my belief that the future of Australia is becoming more closely linked with the future of the countries of South-East Asia. But before I develop that theme, may I say that wherever we went, we found that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is held Hn very high regard by the heads of state, their ministers, and their officers. His personal qualities are appreciated and the officials and ministers whom I met were very grateful for the work that he was doing in assisting them to solve their particular problems. Without in any way detracting from that, I would also pay a tribute to our own Australian diplomatic representatives in that area for the manner in which they are representing Australia. In the last few months, Australia has been, for the first time, the venue of a Seato meeting. The conference at Bangkok, to which I have just referred, was the fortyfifth annual meeting of the InterParliamentary Union, and was held in an Asian country for the first time. So, the Australian delegation was a delegation attending the first conference of the union to be held in an Asian country. I believe that these things have not happened by coincidence. It proves my point that we, in Australia, are realizing more and more how closely our future is becoming linked with that of the countries to our north.

I would like to make a comment on pan of the remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan). He stressed the necessity for private enterprise, and the part that it should play in the development of certain countries. When I had the opportunity of addressing, at Bangkok, a full session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, ) said that the under-developed countries of the world faced a great diversity of problems in their efforts to promote economic development, and that there was a great diversity in the ways in which those economic problems were being faced. I draw attention to the fact that these developmental policies tend to involve a large measure of central planning. I think that was the point that the honorable member for Gwydir had in mind. It would be true to say that while we recognize the need for a certain amount of planning in the initial stages, we should not like to see these developing economies overlook private enterprise, because it provides such a great incentive to any form of national planning.

I also agree with the description by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) of the tension that exists between various countries of the world, including a number close to Australia. I should like to say this to the honorable member. I believe that Australia, while not large in terms of population, has the longest history of democracy in this part of the world, and that it is the strongest democracy in the South-East Asian area. Therefore, our responsibilities are great. I believe that we are coming to realize more and more our responsibilities in these matters. In saying that, I express my belief that we should help by all means in our- power those countries that are resisting Communist infiltration and fighting any form of communism that appears within their borders. To many of these countries, communism is a very real menace. It is easy to visualize the state of mind of the leaders of those countries when we realize that over 600,000,000 people in red China are poised in the arc of a circle to the north of their boundaries. From time to time, they also suffer what one might call an invasion of teams of supersalesmen, who try to " sell " them international communism. We have had examples in recent months of some of the difficulties resulting from these things. By way of example, I mention the riots that occurred in Singapore towards the end of last year - riots that the Chief Minister, Mr. Lim Yew Hock, dealt with in a very effective manner - and the combined efforts of the British, Australian and Malayan forces against Communist terrorists.

As the Government of Thailand has banned communism within its borders, I was interested the other night to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) single out Thailand for attack. In Viet Nam, special operations against the Communists are in full swing. As I have, on a previous occasion, give some facts to the House concerning Thailand, it might be well if, at this stage, I briefly describe to the House the special operation that the Republic of Viet Nam has started in its fight against the Communists. The operation has been put under the command of General Xuan, who has been given special powers. The fight against Communist terrorists in that country is being carried out on the military, administrative, political and psychological fronts. The first phase was to clear the groups of Communists which had their head-quarters in certain jungle areas and camouflaged pockets in certain towns and villages. The objectives of the succeeding phases, which are now in full swing in the Republic of Viet Nam, are the restoration of confidence to the populace, the provision of security to enable the people to travel upon their roads without fear or hindrance, and freeing the minds of the farmers and workers from the fear of communism. If there are any woolly headed thinkers in Australia who still propose to embrace the Communist ideology, or any associated ideology, all that is necessary to convince them that their thinking has been along wrong lines is a short visit to the Republic of Viet Nam, because when one has an opportunity to speak to the refugees who are pouring south across the border from the Communist Viet Minh in the north, one hears the all too familiar story of the breaking up of homes, imprisonment, torture and confiscation. The only alternative to bowing to the will of the Communist dictator is to try to escape to freedom.

At this stage, I should like to refer to the land settlement scheme that has been undertaken by the Government of Viet Nam. The Australian delegation had an opportunity to visit the land settlement scheme at Cai-San. At the time of our visit, some 42,000 people had been already settled in the area and it was hoped that, by the end of this month, the number would be increased to 100,000. The allotment of tenant farming lands is done in accordance with a national regulation. Each farmer is allotted an area of approximately 7 to 8 acres, having a frontage of some 33 yards to a canal. There is a slight language difficulty at this point, but- 1 understand that farmers, in certain cases, can buy their farms by raising a loan from the government at a low rate of interest. 1 should like to make it clear that this is not the only scheme of rehabilitation that the Government of Viet Nam has undertaken. In accordance with its five-year agricultural plan, another land settlement scheme is getting under way in virgin country in the north-western part of Viet Nam. At this settlement, market gardening will be undertaken and it is hoped that, in due course, many acres will be devoted to cattle grazing.

I have spent some time in explaining what Viet Nam is endeavouring to do, because there we see an example of the fight against communism that is going on. Viet Nam and a number of the neighbouring countries have a great friendship for and a great interest in Australia. I think the time is opportune for us to take advantage of that friendship and interest to strengthen the bonds between our respective countries and in that way make it easier to understand better each other's problems.

Malaya has problems of a different nature. As is well known, following a series of conferences, the last of which took place between the present Chief Minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman and a representative of the British Government, the date fixed for Malayan freedom within the British Commonwealth is 31st August next. I express only my own personal opinion when I say that I believe that, after 31st August, Malaya will need even more help. I say that because, under present conditions, the political Chinese party has been giving good and full co-operation to the United Malaya party, but fears are held in a number of quarters that this co-operation will not continue after 31st August, and that the coalition government, as it were, may be split asunder. Therefore, we need to be even more understanding of the problems which will confront Malaya during the next two years, and give that country as much assistance as we can afford. I know that our assistance to Malaya under the Colombo plan is greatly appreciated, and I shall give some examples of that assistance.

The first visit that we made in Malaya was to the Lady Templar Tuberculosis Hospital, where the nursing staff, with two exceptions, consists of Australian nursing sisters and matron. The periods for which they are engaged under their contract will expire in about twelve months, but, unfortunately, there has not been sufficient time for the Malayans to train their own nursing staff to take the place of our Australian sisters. Therefore, it seems to me that we should examine this problem to determine whether it would be possible for us to assist them again in the intervening period. Once again I express a personal opinion based on the observations I made during our all-too-short visit there. I feel that the emphasis of our technical assistance to Malaya should be on providing teachers and skilled tradesmen rather than on equipment. In saying that, I do not for one moment suggest that we should stop sending various types of equipment to Malaya, but we should concentrate more on sending the personnel to train the Malayans in the use of the equipment that they receive from us and from certain other countries in quite large quantities.

One is limited very much by time in this debate, so I say, very briefly, that I think one of our greatest problems in understanding the difficulties of our neighbours is the present situation in Indonesia. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) to-night, the Indonesians are our closest neighbours. Once again, despite some popular opinions, I found amongst the Ministers, Government officials and the commercial and business sections of the community, whom we had the opportunity to meet during our short visit, a feeling of friendliness foi Australia. Through the efforts of the Australian delegation, we had quite a frank discussion concerning the West Irian problems. There is not time to give details of that discussion to the House, and I say only that the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa did not present the West Irian problem at all as we saw it whilst in that country.

Summing up, I believe that it is necessary not only for us to continue the work that has been done by personal visits, the work of our Minister and his representatives, the work we have been able to do under the Colombo plan and the contributions and associations we have been able to make through such visits as the recent one under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I believe it is necessary also fo: us to continue to encourage the interchange of visits, to send delegations from various groups of people in Australia, to encourage visits from those countries to Australia, to exchange information by way of newspapers and the interchange of recorded broadcasts to be played in om respective countries and so in every way possible help the citizens of each country to understand the problems of the other and come closer together.

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