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Wednesday, 12 April 1961


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- I support the sentiments expressed last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), which were also supported later last night by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I am sure that my colleagues who will speak in this debate to-day will similarly support what has already been said on behalf of the Labour Party.

The concluding words of the Opposition's amendment axe an expression of our belief that the Prime Minister should relinquish the office of Minister for External Affairs and so save this country from the increasing embarrassment that arises from his statements overseas. Such a motion for the removal of a Minister from office has never before been submitted to this Parliament. The motion is the Opposition's protest against the retention by the Prime Minister of the External Affairs portfolio nearly a year after the resignation of the former Minister for External Affairs - Mr. R. G. Casey, as he then was - on his elevation to the peerage. The period of ten or twelve months during which the Prime Minister has held this important portfolio has been a tragic time for Australia. I do not think that there is any other country whose Prime Minister takes unto himself the additional position of Minister for External Affairs. The Prime Minister must surely treat the position of Minister for External Affairs very lightly if he thinks that he can administer that portfolio adequately as well as the portfolio of Prime Minister. When the right honorable gentleman is overseas he is not handling the Prime Ministership as it should be handled, and when he is here he is not handling the Ministry of External Affairs at it should be handled.

In his speech last night, in which he tried to justify his somersault on the

South African issue, the Prime Minister said one or two interesting things. It seems quite clear, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister has a very old-fashioned, out-dated attitude to the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. He still thinks of it in terms of 50 years ago when it was a cosy little society comprising the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Australia - the big four - meeting in secret behind closed doors and having a good old chin-wag and chit-chat together about the state of the world in general. Rarely did anything happen in those conferences. But in latter years, since the war, this conference has become a far bigger organization. It is a multi-racial organization now. It has within it some of the new nations of the world which have only recently had their independence granted to them.

The Prime Minister just will not grow up at the same rate as this organization is growing up. He is completely out-dated in his views about it. The Opposition is quite convinced that the Commonwealth has outgrown the Prime Minister. I cannot put it any more clearly than that. Until he is prepared to accept the fact that it is a multi-racial organization he will always be out of date; he will always be 3 miles behind; he will always be making statements that would have fitted in to the pattern of twenty or thirty years ago but which are quite ridiculous within the present framework of the Commonwealth. His attitude to the question of Africa is that the internal operations of Commonwealth countries must not be discussed in London at the Prime Ministers' Conference. All such dirty work should be left to the United Nations. That was the burden of his argument last night in trying to extricate himself from the most difficult situation that an Australian Prime Minister has ever been in. He seems to think that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference is just an informal gathering of good friends, and that you must not discuss any nasty bit of policy or legislation within any of these nations. Leave that to the United Nations!

I cannot possibly understand his attitude on this point and neither can any member of the Opposition. An evil policy is made no different just because the nation carrying it out happens to be' a member of the Commonwealth. There is, as the Leader of the Opposition said last night, a Savoy Australian Club atmosphere. I feel that if the conference of Prime Ministers is to have any meaning at all it cannot side-track or get around the type of policy that is being carried out in Africa at the present time. The Prime Minister was caught up in this strange situation and was unable to face present world realities. All his subsequent statements, in my opinion, arose from the fact that he has not grown up with the British Commonwealth and is still living in the atmosphere of the 1930's and even the 1920's. He thinks of the old Commonwealth - a cosy gentlemen's club where every one is a jolly good sport with superior indifference to present social, political or racial problems.

He cannot grasp the concept of a multiracial society within the Commonwealth. He was born in the nineteenth century and does not seem to have got out of it. If my memory serves me rightly, he once recommended that there should be an inner cabinet of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, consisting, I assume, entirely of white men. To-day, the coloured races are rising from the colonialism of the past and claiming a rightful place and voice in the affairs of nations. The Prime Minister does not seem to grasp this fact.

In the course of his speech at the Savoy Hotel in London, the Prime Minister raised the white Australia issue. Why he wanted to drag this issue into that atmosphere we cannot understand. I have before me a newspaper article by Denis Warner in which he says -

The New York Times last week, published a prediction by the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Edgar Whitehead, that Australia would be out of the Commonwealth next year " on her White Australia policy ". Mr. Menzies has already stated firmly that he would not have stayed in the Commonwealth longer than the South Africans if he had come under similar attack. He has also expressed the view that such attacks are likely. And at the week-end Communist China and Indonesia signed a treaty of friendship and called for an early Afro-Asian conference. Taken separately these predictions, trends and events are disturbing enough. But they should not be taken separately. Communist China's intention to-day, stated over and over again in the bluntest of terms by its leaders, is to isolate the West from the' under-developed world of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

That is quite obvious to most of us who study Asian affairs. Denis Warner continued -

It has set about achieving this objective in various ways . . .

Nothing would suit China's purpose better than to see Australia walk out of the Commonwealth. And nothing, I believe, is more vital to our interests to-day than that we should remain a part of it.

I am sure I am right when 1 say that most Australians strongly approved the policy Lord Casey pursued in the External Affairs Department of establishing a good-neighbour policy with Asia, and especially with our Commonwealth Asian neighbours. It is no secret now that Lord Casey left Australia last week concerned that what he had worked for - and largely achieved - ever a period of 10 years had been largely undone by Mr. Menzies in London.

It is tragic enough that the White Australia policy and apartheid should be discussed in the same breath. It would be disastrous for the Western cause - and for us - if we were to break our one intimate link with Asia by walking out of the Commonwealth, unfairly branded for ever as white racialists.

If Mr. Menzies is still Prime Minister of Australia when the Prime Ministers' Conference is held next year, he will again represent this country. He must grasp the essential difference between the White Australia policy, with which many of us disagree, and the abomination of apartheid, which almost all of us loathe.

If, as he expects, he is attacked on White Australia, he must be instructed that the decision whether to stay in the Commonwealth, or to leave it, is not a matter for his personal, unilateral choice. He has no mandate now to get out of the Commonwealth if he does not like what others say to him. And it is a national duty that we should make this clear to him in the months ahead.

This article by Denis Warner shows the type of situation into which the Prime Minister has got us by making the kind of speech which he made at the dinner at the Savoy. According to the Melbourne " Herald " of 3rd April, Lord Casey, speaking of the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth, said -

Personally, I think it has strengthened the Commonwealth. I have always thought it would be rather embarrassing if South Africa had remained in the Commonwealth.

To have said a thing like that Lord Casey obviously must have had some real conception of what apartheid meant in South Africa. We could not live in the Commonwealth with a nation that continued such oppressive racial policies. In that respect,

Lord Casey differs substantially from the Prime Minister despite the statement that the right honorable gentleman made last night. It is a pity that Lord Casey is not still Minister for External Affairs.

In my remaining time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to give to the House a few facts about apartheid in South Africa as it is to-day, in order that the House may have a better understanding of the reasons why we loathe apartheid so much and why South Africa, more or less of its own choice, withdrew from the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and from the Commonwealth of Nations. In the beginning, the Nationalist Party's philosophers of apartheid saw that the South African society was based on cheap land and on cheap labour which was supplied by a subjugated native population. Africans are declared to be separate socially, culturally and politically.


Mr Anderson - What is the honorable member reading now?


Mr DUTHIE - This is a prepared speech.

The Calvinism of the Dutch Reformed Church gave a religious justification to apartheid. It preaches that God has chosen the Afrikaander as His people - distinct, masterful and separate - the native people being an inferior race that has no divine right to equal status with whites, to equal liberties, to equal privileges, to equal economic advantages or to equal opportunities. Calvinism, as preached in South Africa, actually declares that the grace and favour of God are withheld from the native people - that they are predestined to live in the land that God gave to Cain. That is the philosophy of Calvinism. The Africans are religious outcasts, just as the lepers walking the streets of the towns by the Sea of Galilee in the days of Christ himself were outcasts.

The Nationalist Party in South Africa, founded in 1912 by General James Hertzog set out, as a matter of deliberate policy, to achieve the complete separation of races, languages and cultures. Field Marshal Smuts set the ball rolling in this policy of segregation, and he was followed by Dr. Malan in 1948. This was a deliberate policy of white supremacy. The native people were to be kept apart in schools, towns and occupations. Resistance to apartheid was treason by law, declared Malan's lieutenant, Johannes Strijdom, who later succeeded Malan as Prime Minister of South Africa.

In 1949 began the work of erecting the legal edifice of apartheid - this dreadful philosophy. First, entry into 21 cities and towns for the purpose of seeking work was forbidden to all Africans. Secondly, in 1950, the Mixed Marriages Act and the immorality amendment forbade marriages between Europeans and non-Europeans. Thirdly, in order to buttress and entrench this legislation, the Population Registration Act was passed in order to classify the whole population by racial groups. One fantastic method adopted was to run a comb through a person's hair in order to determine whether he fell into the coloured or negro category. Fourthly, the Separate Amenities Act was passed in order to segregate the native people in trains, buses and public places. Fifthly, the Minister of Labour was empowered to decide the occupations of any race in order to deal with employment. Skilled jobs were reserved for whites, thus making sure that the main impact of unemployment was directed at the Africans. Men with black skins were not permitted to operate elevators, to lay bricks or to drive any vehicle larger than a threeton truck. Sixthly, there was passed the Group Areas Act, which cut up the country into racial areas. Whites, coloureds and Africans had to live in separate areas. This is one of the great citadels of apartheid, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Seventhly, the Industrial Conciliation Act forbids the formation of multi-racial trade unions and puts the African outside the limits of union representation. Though Africans may have unions, those unions are not recognized by the Government and they are forbidden to carry out collective bargaining. Native workers in the gold-mines receive about one penny an hour, although some of the mines make profits as high as £1,400,000 a month. Eighthly, there came the Bantu Education Act - the brain child of Dr. Verwoerd, the present Prime Minister. This act puts complete control of education in the Government's hands. The Africans cannot rise above a deliberately fixed low standard of education in the schools. The Bantu language is taught, and only enough English and Afrikaans to enable the Africans to obey orders is taught. About £9,000,000 is spent on Bantu education annually, but this is- only 5s. a head of the African population. Dr. Verwoerd has said that the Government hopes within five or ten years to put an end to "that class of native who wants to become part of the European community ". Dr. Hertzog once said that the native should receive only four years' education and should be taught only hygiene, soil conservation and the care of cattle.

Ninthly, the Nursing Act ordered separate racial registers and placed the profession under a council all the members of which were white. This is designed to prevent the tragedy of an African nurse giving orders to a trained or untrained European. Tenthly, the Public Safety Act gives the Government the power to proclaim emergency regulations under which the Minister of Justice, a magistrate or a commissioned police officer can order the detention of any one without a warrant or a charge and can put that person in gaol. Thousands of people have been arrested and hundreds languish in gaol, including all the leaders of the African people, as a result of this vicious act.

Eleventhly, we come to the notorious pass laws, which go right back to the days of slavery. Under these laws, the police can have a person hauled out of bed at any time of the night with the excuse that they are just checking passes. The pass laws require every African to carry a pass on which are recorded his name, occupation, address and other information. These passes are virtually passports to prison. These laws have created a vast prison out of which an African may not move without incurring arbitrary arrest. Twelfthly, the South African Government introduced the system of urban dwellings outside the towns and cities. The natives are forced to live in these areas entirely separate from white people, and these places are slum-like and disease-infested. Of every 1,000 African babies born, only between 700 and 800 survive to their second year. Only 55 out of every 100 Africans reach the age of sixteen. Malnutrition is rampant.

Vicious laws also govern the employment of Africans on farms. These laws date back to 1913. Africans cannot own or rent land outside the native reserves. The area of these reserves was increased in 1936, but in most instances the land is poor and eroded and farming methods are primitive. The native farmers exist at poverty levels.

All these facts which I have related constitute the reasons why the Opposition presented its amendment.







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