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Tuesday, 7 May 1957


Mr STEWART (Lang) .- Since 1950, when the Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) announced the first defence programme of the present Government, we have been treated from time to time with regular defence statements and programmes. Each has been years behind the times and has been prepared almost before any action has been taken to implement the previous programme. The statement the House is now debating, which was made by the Prime Minister on 4th April last, is not different from its predecessors. It makes few alterations in relation to the various arms of the forces, but before any marked changes can be noticed, we can be sure that the Prime Minister will be announcing a new defence programme. The defences of Australia, in the meantime, will continue to stagnate.

The Government must make a firm decision on our defence needs and work towards that goal. This programme, like all actions of the present Government, lacks foresight, initiative and judgment. Apparently the advisers of the Government on defence are more inclined to protect the arm of the force they represent than to come to a firm understanding on the defence needs of Australia.

Like most other people in the world, I would like to see nuclear and thermonuclear weapons banned, and indeed I should like to see war itself banned. A conference is proceeding in London now between five of the great nations on nuclear weapons and disarmament. It is to be hoped that that conference will come to a firm, watertight and all-embracing agreement on those matters. However, I believe that the nations of the world are in a similar position to political parties - even those in Australia - and refuse to trust each other. No nation is prepared to trust the other. For that reason, 1 believe that Australia must do something about its defence plan. We can only hope and pray that the expenditure on defence will be needless and wasteful, but while there is a lack of trust between individuals within nations, and between nations themselves, it is our duty to do something about the defence of Australia.

I have been greatly disappointed, therefore, with the defence efforts of this Government. Since 1950, we have never got down to a firm basis on a defence programme. We have never made up our minds what our defence needs are. We have made programmes from time to time but each time those programmes have been years behind.

I am absolutely certain that the Australian Government, whatever its political flavour, would never go to war against another nation unless Australia was attacked. Consequently, our defence programme should be based on preparedness for defence, and not for offence. Acting on the presumption that Australia will not attack any other country first, I believe that our defence programme should be based upon that premise. Australia is a large country with a small population. Consequently, we are unable to protect our shores with our own people. No matter how large a defence force we built up in Australia, we would still be vulnerable to attack from any large power in the world.

Therefore, I believe that our defence commitments must put us on an equal footing with other countries in terms of weapons. We must let others know that the Australian people have no intention of attacking any other country. We must convince them that our defence programme is being put into effect only because we . want to protect our land from any aggressors. For that reason, I believe it is essential that our armed forces should be equipped with the most modern weapons.

If we are allies of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, two of the great powers which possess nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons, they should trust us with those weapons and make available to us the necessary data for their construction for use by Australia in the case of attack. It might be argued that, if every nation gets those weapons, they might use them, but I believe that possession by a nation of such weapons will act as a deterrent against attack by any other nation.

How far are we from war to-day? I would say that no man in the world could answer that question. There is one frightening thought, however. That is that Khrushchev, after one of his vodka parties and in his drunken arrogance, might start a world war. That is a very live thought. It could become a reality at anytime because, repeatedly, over the past year or so, we have had outbursts by Mr. Khrushchev which could easily be carried a great deal further at a later date.

Let me revert now to the supply of atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons from the United States or the United Kingdom. We in Australia have made available to the United Kingdom the Woomera rocket range and the Maralinga atomic testing grounds. We ask, in return, that the people who are willing to use this country for testing their atomic weapons have sufficient trust in the Administration of Australia to give us the secrets which will allow us to have these atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons at our disposal in time of war. And 1 pray God that never in our time will we see another war!

What could Australia do in a limited war? I should say that there is not a great deal that she could do, particularly under the defence programme outlined by the Prime Minister in April of this year. The

Australian armed forces are being curtailed. In any case, what are the prospects of another limited war taking place? Already in the past few years we have seen that the United Nations has power to deal with nations taking part in a limited war. We have seen the successes achieved by that organization in Korea, Indo-China and the Middle East.

Mir. Turnbull. - What about Hungary?


Mr STEWART - That was not a limited war between two nations. It was a limited war in Korea, Indo-China and the Middle East. I admit that the United Nations fell down on its job in Hungary; I make no excuses for it. But if we do not give the United Nations power to act in connexion with limited wars, we could have limited wars breaking out regularly during the rest of our days. The United Nations has demonstrated that in most cases it can deal successfully with a limited war, and its power in this direction should be strengthened so that never again in our days shall we see a limited war. 1 feel that the only likely prospect confronting us is a global war. If we are to have a global war, it appears to me to be absolutely certain that atomic and thermonuclear weapons will be used. Should that happen, then I feel that the world as we know it will be devastated and most of its population destroyed. That is a horrifying thought," and I am confident that the peoples of the world, the ordinary men and women of the world, never want to see such a tragedy.

The Prime Minister's statement on defence is not positive. It is a stop-gap statement. It makes no plans for the ultimate defence of Australia. This Government, ever since it formulated its first defence programme in 1950, has continually shifted its ground on the question of defence. If we intend to do anything about defence, let us make up our minds to do it, and do it quickly. Let us make up our minds to obtain from the United States, or from the United Kingdom, the most modern weapons that are available to mankind, and let us make it known to the other nations of the world that those weapons will never be used by Australia for the purposes of attack, but will be used solely for purposes of defence in the event of an attack on us. I feel that if we lay down that policy we should have some hope of being able to live in peace with our neighbours in the Pacific.

One matter which was not mentioned in the Prime Minister's statement and one which I feel is extremely urgent in these days when there are threats of atomic and thermo-nuclear attack was civil defence. 1 have no intention of laying down a programme for civil defence because I feel that, like defence, civil defence could always prove to be a source of needless expenditure; but there are certain things that could be done in the development ot this country which would be of great advantage to us should Australia ever be subjected to atomic or thermo-nuclear attack. Those things are the stockpiling of food, clothing, oil, petrol and blood plasma; the decentralization of industry; the building of hospitals in non-target areas; the preparation of a plan for the evacuation of nonessential personnel from target areas; the standardization of rail gauges; the unification of fire-fighting equipment; the building of new highways; the conservation of water; and the preparation of statistics relating to motor vehicles, such as trucks, utilities anc! so on, as was done under the national security (emergency service) regulations during the last war. Most of those things could be done here and now to develop Australia and, should there ever be an attack on Australia, even with highexplosive bombs, they would be of advantage to this country. During the last war, Japan and Germany found that civil defence was. necessary. England found that her civil defence programme was a great moralebuilding asset, that her civil defence organization kept the morale of the people high when they were under attack from the Germans.

When we talk about civil defence, we must necessarily think in terms of atomic and thermo-nuclear attack. I feel that the horrifying effects of such an attack should be made known time and time again to the people of Australia, and indeed to the people of the world, because, the more we know about the effects of atomic and hydrogen bombs, the less chance there is that the people of any nation will agree to use them against another nation. During the last war, an atomic bomb was dropped upon

Japan. The strength of that bomb was the equivalent of the strength of 20,000 tons of T.N.T., and I point out that the explosive power of 20,000 tons of T.N.T. is capable of lifting the liner " Queen Mary " 70 miles into the air. Thermo-nuclear, or hydrogen, bombs have been developed to the strength of 40 megatons, or 40,000,000 tons of T.N.T. Experts claim that the bomb which is most likely to be used, should there be another war, is the one known as the 500X bomb. It has a strength of 10 megatons or the equivalent of 10,000,000 tons of T.N.T. If one of those bombs were dropped on Sydney at midday on any working day, 1,000,000 persons would be killed and 400,000 would be injured. If it were dropped at midnight, when many people would be out of the city and home in bed, the figures would be reversed; that is to say, 400,000 people would be killed and 1 .000,000 would be injured. Again, if one such bomb were dropped on one of our capital cities, all the public utilities would be completely destroyed and the morale of the people would be shattered. Unless we had a civil defence organization in outlying areas which could come in and do some work in cleaning up the debris, chaos would reign supreme. The people would panic and nothing could be done to preserve what little was left of our capital city.

I have some figures which show the destructive forces of bombs of various sizes. The first, the nominal bomb, which was the type of bomb dropped on Japan during the last war, would have a total destruction area of half a mile, an irreparable damage area of three-quarters of a mile, a moderate to severe damage area of 2 miles and a light damage area of 3 miles. A ten megaton bomb would have a total destruction area of 21 miles, an irreparable damage area of 5i miles, a moderate to severe damage area of 9 miles and a light damage area of 12 miles. A 40 megaton bomb would have a total destruction area of 3i miles, an irreparable damage area of 7 miles, i moderate to severe damage area of 11 miles and a light damage area of 15 miles. These figures give some indication of the destructive force of nuclear and thermonuclear bombs. So long as these figures are made known to the people of Australia and to the people of the free countries of the world, I feel that there is some hope of a ban being imposed on hydrogen and atomic bomb tests and on the use of hydrogen and atomic bombs in warfare. I earnestly pray, as do most people throughout Australia, that never, in our time, will we see another world war.

The policy of the Labour party is for peace. It is a policy that has been supported by leaders of the churches and by leading statesmen throughout the world. I feel that this Parliament has nothing to lose by always supporting and advocating a policy of peace. At the same time, our defence forces should be kept ready for use as a defensive weapon rather than as an offensive weapon.







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