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Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr McIVOR (Gellibrand) .- The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) started off by suggesting that this debate on international affairs had developed into a sort of paper chase, with Opposition speakers rushing hither and thither and getting nowhere. That amuses me, especially when I remember that the honorable member for Griffith spent almost half of his time in launching a tirade of abuse against Labour leaders and the Labour Party. Many times during his speech he said, " Let me come back ". I suggest that he was a perfect example of a man who did not know what he was talking about, of a man who was rushing hither and thither and getting nowhere.

I do not propose to waste my time in that fashion. I rise to support the amendment so ably moved by my leader (Mr. Calwell). First I should like to say that out of this debate must come a realization on the part of us all of the vital importance of foreign affairs to Australia, especially of such foreign affairs as relate to Asia and the under-developed nations of the world. It would be a mistake of the greatest magnitude to treat with indifference any matter affecting the emancipation of the people of the under-developed countries, especially of the people of South-East Asia. In my opinion, indeed in the opinion of every honorable member of the Opposition, far too little of the time of this House is devoted to a consideration of foreign affairs. To emphasize perhaps more forcibly Mr. Macmillan's view and to put it into my own words, the winds of change are blowing at hurricane force in the countries of our less fortunate brothers and sisters. If this debate does nothing but show the people of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, India and China that we have a genuine concern about their problems and a genuine desire to help them to overcome those problems, the time spent in it will have been worth while. I have the courage to say that many of the statements made in foreign affairs debates about under-developed countries tend too much to the political and not sufficiently to the human side. I have in mind an article written by Osmar White which appeared in the Melbourne "Herald" of 11th July, 1959. It is headed, " Death on the Dum Dum Road " and reads -

Between teeming Calcutta City and congested Dum Dum airport runs 15 miles of road along which all westerners who wish to express an opinion on present-day India should be required to make an unhurried pilgrimage, preferably on foot.

On the Dum Dum Road you can learn more about the facts of Indian life in an hour than you can in a year of temple-crawling, big game hunting, and listening to the weary wisdom of political analysts.

Mr. Whitethen described some of the sights that were pointed out to him as he went along the Dum Dum Road, which I have travelled, such as the Dum Dum small arms factory, the relics of war and the mansion where Clive of India lived. Then he stated that he was shocked to have pointed out to him a man dying of starvation on the footpath. He spoke of the multitude of people who passed by this man with apparent indifference, the policeman on point duty nearby and the hundreds of pavement dwellers squatting on the pavement quite unconcerned. He went on to say -

Not one of all these people acknowledged the presence among them of a man dying of starvation. His plight was too commonplace for remark. . . . Every year the Indian population rises by 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 without anything like a proportionate rise in the nation's natural or acquired ability to sustain the increase above starvation level.

Only when one realizes that India is threatened by the catastrophe of a population explosion should one start to speculate about the adequacy of the nation's present leadership, its political future or the .chance it has of staying, with foreign aid and native discretion, on the sweetnessandlight side of the iron curtain.

White stated further -

The man whom I saw dying of starvation on the Dum Dum Road would hardly, I think, have been impressed if someone had described to him the horrors of communism and the slave State.

He is more likely to have asked, " But tell me - is there anything to eat in the slave State? " This is the question tens of millions of Indians will be asking if democratic tehnocracy loses its race with human fertility in South Asia.

The conditions described in that article are the pattern of conditions in most of the under-developed countries of the world. They represent the very basis of the first problem that should be tackled - a need far more vital to the people of those countries than war and the horrors of war. These are the matters that are blithely overlooked by members of the Government. They believe that any uprisings in these countries, any protests against living conditions, should be crushed by force.

I, and honorable members on my side of the House, note with some satisfaction the second paragraph in the Seato resolution which is in these terms -

The Council once more makes it clear that Seato is a defensive organization with no aggressive intentions and reiterates, in the words of the Treaty " its desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments ".

That is a very laudable objective. But how can one expect people to live in peace unless one gives them the will to live, the will to strive to better their conditions and the promise of a brighter future even, as Osmar White puts it, if that means only an extra loaf of bread or an additional shirt to put on their back? They must be given the promise of a future in which the standard of living for themselves and their children will be worth fighting for, a future that will resist the attempts at infiltration by isms of any kind.

Perhaps one of the worst features of colonialism has been exploitation. It has been the keynote in the past and, in many cases, it is the keynote at present. This has been amply illustrated by events in the Congo to which reference has already been made. Such was the pillage in that country that when a barricade was thrown across the stream of wealth pouring from the Congo into Belgium the Belgian economy practically collapsed. It may be argued - rightly, I would say - that Belgium, in view of the investments that it had in the Congo, was entitled to some adequate return, but it can be argued also with equal force and with equal fervour that the people who produced this wealth were entitled to a fair share of the production of their labour. Their share could and should have been reflected in improved living standards somewhat comparable to what we in the privileged countries enjoy to-day. No or.e can say that this is impossible. No one can say it was beyond the reach of Belgium to give the people of the Congo improved living standards. The rule of colonial powers, including Britain, France, Belgium, Holland or America, has been such that they have had the time, the money, the material and the labour to lift the colonies out of their miserable plight and so to foster an everlasting loyalty and friendship towards themselves, but they have failed to do so.

The apartheid policy of South Africa is a classic example of the desire of some people to perpetuate existing conditions. Such a policy can never succeed. The less privileged people of the world are on the march. Their sights are and will continue to be levelled at the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. The pressure of their opinions will not be denied and our policies, our approaches and our statements of necessity must be of such a nature as to inspire confidence, trust and willingness at all times to extend the hand of friendship, not to create distrust and hostility such as has been created by the Prime Minister's statement. I am one of the many people in this country who hopes that the performance of the Prime Minister and the statements he has made will never be repeated.

Much has been said during this debate about the somersault in policy on South Africa by the Prime Minister and the Government. Not one member of the Government has tried to explain the reason for the switch. We on this side of the House are pleased that the Government has seen fit to alter its policy. The Government has vindicated the Opposition's policy and everything that members of the Opposition have said on this matter. We are just as pleased at the apparent reversal of form on disarmament and peace that is evident in Government policy to-day. I recall a time not so long ago when members on the Opposition side and other very reputable people were charged with being a front for the Communists because they advocated the cessation of nuclear and atomic tests and demanded that these great scientific discoveries be used for the benefit of mankind throughout the world and not for the destruction of the universe. But to-day we find the Government openly advocating the very things that the Australian Labour Party has stood for in the past and will stand for in the future.

I fortify that statement by the pronouncement of policy made by the Australian Labour Party after its federal conference in Hobart in 1955. A pronouncement was made in these words -

In addition to calling the Australian people to a more direct and a greater acceptance of responsibility for the raising of living standards, the eradication of illiteracy and disease, among the Asian peoples, the Labour Movement insists that all this will be as naught if the policy of massive retaliation through nuclear weapons is retained as the corner-stone of our democratic foreign policy.

The federal conference of the Australian Labour Party made this clear statement among others -

The development of atomic weapons has reached such dimensions that the peoples of the world are now faced with the stark and terrifying spectacle of a possible atomic world war causing a danger to the very fabric of the earth, its atmosphere and all its inhabitants which is so real that distinguished scientists refer to the prospect with a sense of " desperation ". This desperation is partly due to the vacillation and delay in arranging high level political talks .aiming at the very effective prevention of the use of atomic and hydrogen bombs by any nation, whether for purposes of 'war or experimental purposes.

The House will remember the advocacy of members on this side of the chamber of a Summit conference and the attitude of the Prime Minister and supporters of the Government to that proposal. The declaration following the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour Party referred to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. The A.L.P. is proud of its hand in foreign affairs and its policy. After the Hobart conference, the Labour Party announced its views in these words -

The S.E.A.T.O. Organization must devote special attention to the peaceful development of international disputes in 'South-East Asia. S.E.A.T.O. as a regional organization .within the United Nations has a positive duty to try and lessen international tension in South-East Asia and the Pacific. It should discharge that duty.

We hope that it will do so. We in the Australian Labour Party claim that we have stood by that policy in the past and will stand, for it in the future. We are proud of our record. We have had to face up to character assassination, half-truths and innuendoes; but time, conditions and world affairs have vindicated the stand of the A.L.P. and it can justly claim that it has played, and will continue to play, its part in the emancipation of the less fortunate people. We believe that peace on earth will prevail in a true sense and not as a mockery. Presidents and Prime Ministers meet, Russia returns a man safely from space, more missiles are made, more atomic and hydrogen bombs are stockpiled. Billions of pounds are being spent in the mad race for atomic and space superiority while in the world every hour of the day people are dying of starvation and disease. I will believe the sincerity of those who talk about the conditions of those who are not so fortunate when I hear them raise their voices demanding food, money and organization to eliminate want, misery and disease and when I hear them demand that a portion of the fifty billion pounds a year that is spent on nuclear and atomic preparations be diverted for the emancipation of the people and the elimination of misery.

I support the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) in stating that the murder of Patrice Lumumba was one of the greatest tragedies and one of the most tragic mistakes the world has witnessed in recent times. The echo of the shot that killed Lumumba will be heard throughout the length and breadth of the world for many years to come. I hope that when the day of reckoning comes, Australia will not be found wanting in its attitude on this matter. The question of the Congo has tested the United Nations to the utmost. We on this side of the House support the United Nations, and we hope that the problems of the Congo can be settled with credit to the United Nations and Australia in particular. We hope that the United Nations Organization can fulfil the functions for which it was established - to settle by peaceful means all disputes between nations. I hope that in the future there will be no more of the muddling and misunderstanding that have been made manifest by the statements of the Prime Minister on South Africa. The problems of the undeveloped nations are such that they require all the tact and wisdom that can be summoned. I hope that tact and wisdom and not irresponsibility will be our motto in the future.

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