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Tuesday, 7 May 1957


Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) .- This is a resumption of the debate on a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in which the right honorable gentleman set out the programme of the Government in relation to defence. In any discussion on defence it is always possible to attack a defence policy as inadequate and wrong. It can always be contended that it is inadequate by measuring it against an unattainable standard of complete security. It is always possible to represent it as wrong by the simple process of measuring any particular weapon or unit of defence as if, inevitably, it would come up against a superior one which happened to exist. We can always belittle the aeroplane in production by comparing it with a superior one which is only on the drawing-board. Confronted with a defence plan costing £200,000,000, we can always postulate a superior one that would cost £500,000,000, without admitting or even trying to estimate the cost of the programme which we are postulating. I think the articles on defence in the Melbourne " Herald ", whilst undoubtedly putting forward a defence plan superior to that of the Government in the fighting-power that it would give to the country, did nol face the cost of the programme thai ii was postulating. I think i! extremely likely that the Melbourne " Herald " would be very critical of the taxation necessary to finance a defence programme such as it was mentioning.

But all those things are really a pointless line of attack. We can only examine our defence programme in the light of the country's capacity to pay, an evaluation of the international situation, an evaluation of the special position of Australia and an evalu-tion of weapons. I wish only to evaluate the international situation with respect to the prospects of disarmament. War will nol be made by any weapon, however powerful. War is made by men. It is not the decision of a weapon, but a decision of the will - especially the wills of men who control governments. The prospects of disarmament depend upon the will to peace. The acceptance of an international authority to police disarmament depends upon the will to peace. Preparedness to abandon sovereignty to an international authority depends upon the will for peace. It is not the technique of international policing which is primary, but a disposition of the will that will accept international policing. That is the first thing necessary. Refusal to accept international authority is a sign of a lack of will to peace. Peace is not merely a fear of nuclear war. lt is the presence of sufficient respect for the rights, interests and freedoms of others not to engage in actions which heighten international tension. Atomic disarmament means the acceptance of international authority because it is right. It implies also that you do not want to control any one else.

Let us look at the international processes surrounding Suez and Hungary, applying these tests. Britain and France, ordered out of Egypt, left Egypt. They accepted international authority. The Soviet Union, through Kadar, refused the admission of Hammarskjoeld to Hungary. The Russians refused any right of inspection of their actions. They refused cease-fire directions. They imposed their will on Hungary by force of arms and rejected international authority. I have no sympathy for the action of the British Government in Suez, but it remains a fact that, faced with the direction of an international authority, they left Egypt, and it also remains a fact that. faced with the direction of an international authority, the Soviet Union did not leave Hungary. I cannot honestly argue from that that the West ought to approach disarmament on the assumption of Soviet goodwill and willingness to accept international supervision. The rejection of Hammarskjoeld's investigation argues a disposition of the will of the Soviet Government noi to accept international authority, and while that is the case the Soviet leaders need nol expect any disarmament proposal by them to be regarded otherwise than as a subterfuge. There was a clear opportunity for the Soviet to accept international inspection in Hungary on an issue which was not a life or death interest, and she did not accept it. Therefore, it is doubtful whether she would genuinely accept inspection on an issue which is a life and death matter - the question of disarmament. On the attitude towards international authority which was demonstrated in the Hungarian situation, 1 think that it is objectively true to say thai the prospects of disarmament which depend upon international inspection are not good.

What about the second test, the special position of Australia? None of our neighbours, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, nor so far as I know China, has nuclear weapons. Japan has renounced them. Burma has none, and has not the means of manufacturing them. Pakistan may acquire some tactical nuclear weapons from the United States. Defensively, we are in a transitional stage. Inter-continental ballistic missiles of long range have not yet been firmly developed and it is generally assumed that nuclear weapons will have to be carried by manned vehicles, either aircraft or submarines, or possibly ships. This transitional stage is likely to be temporary and to last from five to ten years. At the end of that time we may assume that longrange rockets with hydrogen warheads will be standard military equipment. At the present time, so far as Australia is concerned, inter-continental ballistic missiles may not yet reach us from any likely base. Submarine-based missile attack is a possibility, and the Commonwealth Government, following the policy of its predecessors in this respect, has equipped Australia with aircraft carriers, destroyers and fast anti-submarine frigates. It is possible that this programme is not really sufficient to give us an adequate measure of security against possible missile attacks from submarines.

Evidently the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) envisages air attack because, in the course of his statement, he spoke about a ring of radar stations around Sydney. 1 wish to speak about that at greater length shortly, but it seems to me that what is required in Australia is anti-aircraft rocket defence of each city, not merely of Sydney, (t would be more realistic to equip the Citizen Military Forces with anti-aircraft rocket regiments and, as has been done in the United Kingdom, to abandon batteries of anti-aircraft guns. Rockets which can attain heights of 60,000 feet are now in considerable supply, but it is quite certain that anti-aircraft guns cannot reach aircraft flying at modern heights.

The establishment of the proposed radar ring around Sydney, if it implies a fixed chain of radar stations, is extremely doubtful wisdom. In any conflict of the next five years, it is likely that the main targets on both sides will be the opposing air defence systems, and these include airfields, aircraft, radar stations and launching sites - anything which plays a direct part in the nuclear war. Warning radar should be as mobile as possible. It should not be in fixed stations. One can have radar stations on trucks, which may constantly be moved. These are common enough in the United States. One can have radar picket ships which, in the special position of the United States rather than Australia, seem to be necessary equipment. There are now available - and I speak especially of the modified version of the Grumman TF-1, which is now designated the WF-2 - aircraft fitted with a large radome housing very longrange antennae. The Commonwealth Government should consider the possibility of using these aircraft. Mobility of the warning system seems clearly to be necessary, therefore it should not be located in stationary targets.

The Government's air defence policy, with one proviso, seems to me to be realistic if one is not prepared to postulate a very heavy increase of taxation. The English Electric Company's Canberras and the Avon Sabres, which are being manufactured in Australia, are superior to most aircraft that we are likely to encounter in this part of the world. It is perfectly possible to postulate that every Australian Canberra ket will face the undoubtedly superior aircraft which do exist somewhere in the world, but in point of fact there is none superior to them in the South-East Asian area. Moreover, they are being manufactured in Australia, which is an important point.

The key to the new policy seems to be that the Government recognizes that Australia cannot support an aircraft industry large enough to permit constant alteration of the types of aircraft that we manufacture. It was not possible ' even for a country like Germany, which manufactured something like 90,000 aircraft in the last war, or Britain, which manufactured something like 138,000 aircraft, to keep altering patterns and bringing out, in mass production, every new type that was thought of. Those countries had to arrive at certain standardized types for mass production, and it is quite certain that we, in Australia, cannot sustain an 'aircraft industry large enough constantly to alter its types. However, the Government should give clear security of tenure to the men manufacturing the aircraft that we do decide to manufacture, and it should extend the manufacture of spare parts for those types that we do decide to purchase.

The Government recognizes that there are aircraft superior to the Canberra. That recognition is revealed in the expenditure of £55,000,000 upon equipping the Royal Australian Air Force with 33 Lockheed F-104 Starfighters and twelve Lockheed C-130 transports. But it should be recognized that we are moving into an era when rocket interception will end the possibility of aerial attack. It is possible now to fire rockets with minor nuclear warheads at aircraft, to home on to them so that they cannot possibly dodge, and to explode the rockets in the middle of a formation, destroying the lot. No aircraft manned by human beings can be made to go faster than rockets, so that rocket interception of any aircraft attacking, or likely to attack, Australian cities should be a primary method of civil defence. The Prime Minister's statement does mention the intention of the Commonwealth Government to purchase rockets from the United States of America.

I have said that, at the moment, Australia is not threatened by intercontinental ballistic missiles. We are among the fortunate nations of the world in that respect. But I stress again the possibility of submarinebased rocket attacks on cities. It seems to me that sufficient consideration has not been given, to the number of vital industrial points on the Australian coast that will need to be policed by fast, anti-submarine frigates at sea. Of course, when the range of intercontinental ballistic missiles becomes sufficient to reach right across the Pacific to Australia, the era of the anti-submarine frigate may have passed.

The Government has mentioned that it intends to have a striking force of 4,000 men. I doubt whether either the British Government or the Australian Government would be correct in completely abandoning conventional weapons. There are many forms of warfare in which nuclear weapons cannot be thrown about indiscriminately. For example, the West has been in conflict with communism in Greece. In that conflict it was not possible to throw thermonuclear weapons about without destroying the Greek people. There were phases of the Korean war in which, if nuclear weapons had been used, the Korean people, in whose defence the war was being undertaken, would have been destroyed. If enemy commando forces were to land on our own coast we could not defend ourselves by throwing nuclear weapons around our own cities and among our own population. There must have been a number of conflicts since World War II. in which thermo-nuclear weapons could not have been used.

The striking force of 4,000 which the Government envisages, while it is within our defence expenditure of £200,000,000, is probably not adequate for Australia. It seems to me that the Government, by the statement of its intention to reduce the armed forces to 4,000, has left the 26,000 men who joined the Permanent Army rather in the air as to their future. " Facts and Figures", a publication issued by the Government, shows that the Government's recruiting campaign for the Permanent Forces has been extremely successful. If, through some turn of the wheel, the men who have been recruited are not engaged, and a smaller and more mobile striking force is envisaged, I hope that the Government will keep faith with the men whose lives it has appropriated in its armed forces.

The Government has about 120 Centurion tanks in the Australian Army. Tanks are vital in this transitional stage and the Government's proposed expenditure is probably justified for the next five years. Tanks give a high degree of protection against heat, blast and radio-activity. They have cross-country mobility, which makes them independent of damaged road systems and communications, which allows of effective control under chaotic conditions. Their conventional fire power is great.

The Prime Minister's speech, which indicated many valuable new aspects of defence policy, seems to indicate that the Government has started to think realistically. Rockets with a. 6 or 7 mile range for use against aircraft are strictly defensive. We often speak of countries such as India as nations which undoubtedly desire peace, and I think that that is true. But let us not forget that in this country we are spending 18 per cent, of our budget on defence whereas India, a country which we regard as being undoubtedly of a peaceful disposition, is spending 35 per cent. So it cannot be said that, by the standards of any other power in the South-East Asian area, even some with greater problems of poverty than we have, the Australian appropriation for defence is excessive. I hope that the Government's statement will be clearer than some of its other statements have been in order to reassure the public that what is being spent is being spent validly; that is to say, that it is producing a modern defence system within the limits of the expenditure that we are prepared to face.







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