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Wednesday, 12 April 1961


Mr HOWSON (Fawkner) .- It was rather amusing to see the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) suddenly remember at the end of his speech that he was supposed to be directing his remarks to the matter before the chair, namely, the paper dealing with the overseas visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It was only in the last minute of his speech that he made some mention of this subject. For the remainder of the time he dealt with the question of the admission of Communist China to the United Nations, and delivered himself of the same speech that we have heard from him on that subject so often. .. -vj£jl

In a magnificent speech last night the Prime Minister dealt with a number of extremely important subjects. I wish I had the time to discuss the whole question of disarmament, which must be one of the fundamental matters affecting all nations of the world at present, and our attitude to the European Common Market in relation to which the Prime Minister made some extremely important statements and laid down the policy that Australia - in my view rightly - should follow in the coming months. But the Opposition has chosen to concentrate on the subject of South Africa and its policies, and therefore I shall deal with that issue, particularly because I have had the fortune to visit the continent of Africa on three different occasions. I made a long visit last year and, unlike most members of the Opposition, I have actually been on the spot and have some first-hand realization of the problems, not merely a theoretical knowledge such as has been displayed by the honorable member for Reid.

Two matters in the Opposition's amendment affect us. The first relates to the future of the Commonwealth of Natrons, and the other to our attitude towards the actions of the South African Government. At the outset we should ask ourselves what our objective is in discussing these matters. Is it to endeavour to preserve the structure of and the ties that bind the Commonwealth of Nations? Is it to help the Bantu, the 9,000,000 Africans who live in the Union of South Africa? Is it to promote friendship with the nations of South-East Asia, to which reference is made in the Opposition's amendment? I believe that each of these matters is extremely important, but to a certain extent there must be a conflict of attitude if we try to deal with all of them in the one motion.

I think that we have to deal first with the most important matter which, to my mind, is the future well-being of the 9,000,000 Bantu in the Union of South Africa. The decisions that were reached at the Prime Ministers' Conference in London will not help the Bantu. I can cite no better authority for my view on this than Archbishop Dr. Joost de Blank who has said that if we are thinking of trying to help the Bantu in Africa the best thing that we can do is to endeavour to keep the Union of South Africa within the Commonwealth of Nations.

I shall expand upon this aspect later, but I point out that everything I say has behind it concern for the welfare of those people. I do not like any more than does any other honorable member the policy of apartheid, but if we get rid of that policy in South Africa what will we put in its place? As I have said, I have paid three visits to the continent of Africa and on each occasion I have realized that people who go to Africa with preconceived ideas as to how its difficulties can be solved find, within a very short time, that those ideas have to be thrown overboard.


Mr Duthie - Were you in the Union of South Africa?


Mr HOWSON - Yes, and I was in ten other countries on the continent of Africa south of the Sahara. There are four ways in which a system of government can operate in a country such as South Africa. First, there is the system of apartheid which we all abhor. Secondly, there is the multiracial system of government which is the one at which most of us would aim. Then there is the system of a black dictatorship which has occurred in certain countries, and finally there could be partition in which a nation is divided down the centre with white people on one side and black people on the other. No doubt we all desire a multi-racial system of government. Has the adoption of such a system been assisted or the cause of multi-racialism advanced by the policies that have been pursued in the United Nations and by the nations of the world since 1959? The evidence that is available at present indicates that the hope of a multi-racial system of government in every section of Africa has receded in the last two years. One thing that is clear, as those of us who have endeavoured to promote this system of government in New Guinea have found, is that a tremendous amount of political experience by the races who have to operate it is necessary. But we aspire to that system in New Guinea.

The second thing that we have found is that no system of multi-racial government can be brought into operation in a hurry.

As an instance of what happens when one tries to introduce this system in a hurry one has only to consider the events of the last two years. In the Congo we see a picture of complete confusion, tribal warfare and thousands of Africans being killed - very many more deaths than have ever occurred in the Union of South Africa. In Ghana we see a black dictatorship arising with the opposition to that dictatorship locked up in prison. We hear of graft by Cabinet Ministers to the tune of well over £1,000,000, and this has never been denied. We see complete unconcern for minorities. We see a system whereby the people on the coast who supported President Nkrumah get all the pickings and the people in the Ashanti and in the north are being completely downtrodden and neglected and going back to a position much worse than that from which they emerged. We have the expropriation of foreign assets of any persons who tried to invest in that country.

In the Sudan, the picture of slavery once again is emerging. The one great thing of which the white nations can be proud in the history of the past 100 years is that they have abolished slavery throughout the world, but as a result of policies similar to those advocated by the Opposition, slavery is appearing once again in the Sudan. In Uganda, tremendous tribal antagonisms have developed and if we are not careful they will lead to much bloodshed in the near future.

I come now to Kenya. In 1959, I felt that the policy of multi-racialism would work in Kenya if it worked anywhere in the world. I believed that the slow policy of the development of both races towards a coming together with each other was working well; but because the British Government has hurried the transition much more than it should be hurried, all the evidence to-day points to the fact that a multi-racial form of government will not come about. President Nkrumah of Ghana has advocated that Kenyatta be released and made Chief Minister of Kenya. He is a man who has carried out such bestial acts that I doubt whether Mr. Speaker would allow me to speak of them in this chamber. As a result, the white people will leave Kenya rather than stay and be placed under the domination of a man of Kenyatta's history. As we know, hundreds of them want to come to Australia.

All the evidence points to the fact that the Federation of Rhodesia is likely to come to an end and that, instead of a multi-racial system of government which could have come about if there had been time to develop it, there will be another black dictatorship for certain in Nyasaland and probably one in Northern Rhodesia. What will happen in Southern Rhodesia is difficult to contemplate.

All this, to my mind, points to the fact that multi-racial theories have failed. The point I want to emphasize to the Opposition is that theories such as those propounded by the honorable member for Reid are just not working in practice. We must face up to the practical nature of the situation rather than the theoretical one advocated by members of the Opposition. What has happened is this: The United Kingdom Government has moved far too quickly. Both sides were not properly conditioned to try to carry out their full responsibilities. I sincerely believe that multi-racialism could have been made to work in Kenya and Rhodesia. I think that if South Africa could have been persuaded to stay in the Commonwealth, the forces that were starting to work within the Union of South Africa last year would have begun to work towards the development of South Africa as a multi-racial state. The attitude of the Dutch Reform Church was particularly significant. It has changed its thinking over the past twelve months. The growth of the Progressive Party among the citizens of Johannesburg who are of both Afrikaan and British origin, shows how the change in ideas is working. Even the speeches of certain Afrikaan Cabinet Ministers last year showed that there was a change of thought.

As a result of what has happened in the past month, all that is now gone. We admit that the policy of the South African Government at Sharpeville put back the hopes of people like chief Luthuli and moderate Africans; but at the same time all of us must share the blame for putting back the feelings of the progressive white people in South Africa because of the actions we have taken in the past few weeks. Can any one now believe that our actions, as advocated especially by members of the Opposition, will really help towards the promotion of a multi-racial State in the next few months in the Union of South Africa? I believe that everything that has happened will lead to one answer and one answer only and that is partition with probably a great deal of bloodshed in the Union.

Let us look where the policies of other colonial powers have led. The Belgians have shown that their nationals in the Congo were expendable and that they would get out and get rid of their responsibilities quickly. The United Kingdom is now showing that the white settlers in Kenya and probably those in Rhodesia are expendable; but the 3,000,000 whites in South Africa cannot be treated just like that. We want to stop apartheid. We want to promote multi-racial government. But everything that has been advocated by the Opposition in the past two years has contrived to produce the result opposite to what it intended.

Let us look at this matter in wider perspective. Western culture, whether we like it or not, has exploited Africa for two hundred years, from 1700 to 1900 and we cannot put the clock back. If we try to do so, we will have another situation as it is in the Congo. Nor can we move the hands forward as quickly as advocated by the Opposition. We can see what would happen if we tried to do that in New Guinea.

The immediate actions in Africa are the faults, both past and present, of the colonial powers and especially the United Kingdom. But the basis for this action stems from the effect of world opinion, particularly of the Western world. All of us, therefore, must bear our share of responsibility because the general theme we have adopted is that good government is no substitute for selfgovernment. This has led to a rapid spread of racialism and the abandonment of our responsibilities which, whether we like it or not, we have inherited. Where has this abandonment of responsibility taken us? It has meant that the sins of the Western world have been paraded for all to see, but at the same time, the sins of the African dictators are covered up and ignored. Nowhere is this more evident than in the United Kingdom at present. I believe that the whole strength of the British Commonwealth of Nations was that it provided forum where these things could be said and where all peoples could be helped to shoulder the responsibilities they had inherited, whether they liked it or not, but without the dangers of being misunderstood, as may be the case in the United Nations.

The danger is that all these advantages could be placed in jeopardy by what has happened as a result of the recent conference of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I myself believe that our Prime Minister has had the foresight to see this and the strength to say it. If the British Prime Minister has disagreed with him - which I doubt - then in this case I would back the judgment of our Prime Minister even against that of Mr. Macmillan. We have a responsibility that we cannot throw off. We are determined to shoulder thai responsibility, as we are showing by our actions in New Guinea, and we will support every other nation that is prepared to take a policy as enlightened as the policy we are adopting because we know that basically it helps all the people in New Guinea. We believe that the great thing is that not only must we provide self-government but it must be good self-government, whereas the actions of the Opposition would lead to selfgovernment which might not be in the interests of all the people concerned. 1 feel that by following up this enlightened policy, we will find that the newly emerging nations will respect us and, in time, congratulate us upon the action we have taken. By taking this strong line - an enlightened line - I believe that in the long run we shall really gain the friendship of the nations" of South-East Asia. At the same time, we will ensure that the bonds that bind the structure of the British Commonwealth of Nations will be strengthened rather than broken as I think would occur if the policies suggested by the Opposition were put i~to effect.







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