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Thursday, 13 April 1961


Mr GALVIN (Kingston) .- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the motion that the document containing the Prime Minister's report to this House be printed. I think it is worth while repeating the amendment, which is in the following terms: -

That all word's after " That " be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - " in the opinion of this House, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, have done great harm to Australia's relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.

The House resolves, therefore, that the right honorable gentleman should be censured and removed from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs ".


Mr Hulme - He will not be, of course.


Mr GALVIN - No, of course he will not be, because he has the numbers in this Parliament. But at least the Opposition will show not only to the Australian people but to the world, with, I can safely say, the support of the majority of the people of Australia, just where it stands on the question of South Africa. We will show how we disagree with the statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), both in London and in this country on his return. We will show to the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations, which disagree with our Prime Minister, that we have some sympathy with them, that we are prepared to treat them as equals, that we are prepared to discuss their problems, and that we do not agree that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference should be treated merely as a meeting of members of a club, at which one should speak only of the nice things of life, the things that are not really of much importance, but at which there should be no discussion on the fundamental issues that affect mankind. The Prime Minister himself has referred to the conference as a kind of gentlemen's meeting, whereas, on the other hand, the United Nations is a different kind of gathering, where the members talk roundly and discuss matters that would not be discussed in the club.

The Prime Minister showed clearly, in the statement he made in this House a few nights ago, that he still adheres to the opinions he expressed in London and in Australia after he returned here. Any one who watched the television broadcasts of interviews with the right honorable gentleman could appreciate his arrogant attitude, and must have come to the conclusion that he was still of the same opinions, that he was still unconcerned about the people of South Africa as a whole, and that he still firmly believed in the South African Prime Minister. It is true that in his statement the other night he did not use such strong language and was not so lavish in his praise of the Prime Minister of South Africa. For all that, however, he showed that he still disagreed with the views expressed by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan. He showed that he still believed the Commonwealth had been weakened and not strengthened by the withdrawal of South Africa - and let me say, despite what some Government supporters have maintained in their speeches in this debate, that South Africa left the Commonwealth of its own accord.

The Prime Minister says that we have been weakened. He shows both by his attitude and by his remarks that he believes this to be so. Well, Lord Casey has expressed his opinion about the matter. He thinks the Commonwealth has been strengthened, and he stated that he always thought it would be rather embarrassing if South Africa remained in the Commonwealth. The British Prime Minister has given his view on the matter, and it is contrary to that expressed by the Australian Prime Minister.

To-day the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) joined with the Prime Minister in suggesting that sooner or later we will see our restricted immigrant policy, and our white Australia policy, brought up for discussion. These policies were thrown into the ring in London by the Prime Minister himself, because he found that he had again lost a battle overseas and that his stocks were low. So he decided to throw in these issues in the hope that they might raise another problem. One would almost think that he threw them in deliberately to break up the Commonwealth, because he was, in fact, inviting the other members of the Commonwealth to bring the matters forward for discussion. It was left to the Malayan Prime Minister to put the position correctly and to show that there was no comparison between Australia's immigration policy and the South African policy of apartheid.

This afternoon the honorable member for Bowman said it was inevitable that the white Australia policy would be brought up in the future. He said that when the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association met in this very chamber the matter was raised by certain delegates. It is quite true that it was raised, but was any harm done by its being raised? In fact, a lot of good was done by it. It was left to the leader of the Australian Labour Party, who has moved the amendment that we are now debating, to speak on the matter at that conference, and he received the applause of the Asian peoples, who had been, perhaps, a little critical of our policy. A lot of good came out of its being discussed.

But what the honorable member for Bowman did not say was that the South Africans have created problems at many conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I would not have adverted to this to-day if the honorable member had not mentioned the matter in relation to the Asian members of the Commonwealth. The attitude adopted by South African delegations to such gatherings in the past, and the problems they have created, are well known. It is well known that they have boycotted functions at which representatives of Asian countries were to move votes of thanks. I remember that in Delhi members of a South African delegation would not attend a function organized by the English-speaking Union because, they said, they did not speak English. They would not go to the Asian show because they said they would not have anything to do with it. The honorable member for Bowman need not be worried about what the Asian countries might do.

South Africa has been a problem for a long time. I believe that we should not be concerned that the flag of South Africa has been pulled half-way down the mast. The withdrawal of South Africa simply means that the flags of the Commonwealth nations will be flying more proudly than they have been for a long time. If we have to choose between countries that believe it their duty to demand equality between races, on the one hand, and a country that categorizes certain of its people as second-class citizens, on the other hand, then our duty is clear. There is no room in the Commonwealth of Nations, or even in the world, for any country that seeks to deny natural justice and political rights and freedom to its people. The Prime Minister has shown that despite his statement the other night he still supports the Prime Minister of South Africa and still believes that a discussion of South Africa's affairs should not have taken place within the confines of the Prime Ministers' Conference. It is true that he did show more discretion in his speech the other night and did tone down his statements, because he found that public opinion was against him in this country. Government members have said that the Opposition is saying what the newspapers have said. They could also say that the Opposition is saying what the people of Australia - the men and women in the streets - are saying. We are all standing together in condemnation of the Prime Minister for the discredit he has brought upon this nation.

The present position would never have arisen if the South African Government had, in the words of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, given even the slightest hint that it would change its policy in the future. It refused to do so, but clearly a change must come, despite what certain people have said. The coloured races - I use the expression for want of a better one - have reached the stage when they are demanding to be treated as equals. Is there anything wrong with that? Can anybody say that they should not be treated as equals? Can anybody say that their problems should not be discussed in the confines of the Prime Ministers' Conference?

The Opposition submits that the Prime Minister should be relieved of the External Affairs portfolio. He is completely out of touch with Asia. He has probably flown over that continent more times than any other man in Australia, but on very few occasions has he taken the trouble to come down and get in touch with the Asian people. Is it any wonder that he is out of touch with things, and does not know the views of the people in Asian countries? It is time that this portfolio was taken from him and a full-time Minister appointed.

How could South Africa expect any other situation to arise when it refuses even to exchange diplomatic representatives with some of the nations whose leaders sit in the Prime Ministers' Conference? If these people are good enough to sit at Prime Ministers' conferences and at other Commonwealth conferences, their diplomatic representatives should be accepted. A West Indian cricket team is not allowed to play cricket in South Africa, and New Zealand is not allowed to select coloured people to play football there. Is it any wonder that the tide of public opinion has turned against the South African people? The coloured people have feelings; they are human beings. They are entitled to have their views heard, and the Labour Party wishes to make it clear that it stands with the people who insist that these matters should be discussed.

We are sorry, of course, that South Africa has withdrawn from the Commonwealth. We would have liked to see it change its policy, or at least intimate that it was prepared to consider such a change. We cannot sit idly by and say that it is purely a domestic issue when natives are shot in a Commonwealth country, when people are denied their rights and classified as second-class citizens. If it is contended that we should not discuss these things, we have reached the stage where we have no right to call ourselves a democracy.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


Mr GALVIN - Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I was speaking to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to the motion that the statement of the Prime Minister be printed. In its amendment, the Opposition submitted that- in the opinion of this House, the speeches and statements made by the Prime Minister on the question of South Africa, following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, have done great harm to Australia's relations with other member States of the Commonwealth, and with the nations of South-East Asia; have aggravated the position he created at the United Nations meeting in October last year; and do not represent the views of the Australian people.

The House resolves, therefore, that the right honorable gentleman should be censured and removed from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs.

I had made the. point that the Opposition felt it was necessary to make its views known not only to the people of Australia but also to the people of other member nations of the Commonwealth and to the world in general. As I said before, honorable members on the other side of the House say that the Labour Party is repeating statements that have been made in the newspapers. I repeat that we are also putting the views of the ordinary men and women of Australia. We are placing on record what we believe to be their thoughts. We wish to make it clear to our neighbours, particularly those in South-East Asia, that we do not share the views expressed by the Prime Minister, that we believe the withdrawal of South Africa could not be avoided and that there was no reason why South Africa's policy should not have been discussed at the conference. We believe that South Africa's action in leaving the Commonwealth was an action for which South Africa alone was responsible, because it had failed to act in a way that fitted in with the general views of the member nations of the Commonwealth.

The winds of change have moved fast in the last few years. In fact, some honorable members opposite still forget and talk about the Empire. Then they lapse and refer to the British Commonwealth of Nations. But to-day it is the Commonwealth of Nations. The Asian members of the Commonwealth, with others, claim the right to speak as members of this family and they claim the right to be treated as members. Their voice will be heard, and we assure them that any action we take will be to ensure that political rights and justice are preserved for the peoples not only of the Commonwealth but of the world.

We are grateful to the Prime Minister of Malaya, who corrected a mistake made by the Prime Minister of Australia. Because of his disappointment, our Prime Minister raised the question of the white Australia policy or our restricted immigration policy. It was left to the Prime Minister of Malaya to say that our Prime Minister was not correct, that there was nothing at all wrong with our policy and that it could not be tied up with the apartheid policy of South Africa.

The opportunity has been taken to move this amendment, because we believe that a full-time Minister for External Affairs should be appointed. We need a man who can make real contact particularly with the nations in South-East Asia. Every time the Prime Minister goes abroad, he flies over these countries, but we need a man who will come down often enough to make real contact with them. A lot of work must be done in the future to right the wrongs done by our Prime Minister. I believe that much good could be done by inviting members of Parliament of the Commonwealth countries and others to come to Australia and get to know us better. The Opposition by its stand in this Parliament has shown clearly that it disagrees with the Prime Minister and dissociates itself from his remarks. We believe that we are supported by the vast majority of people and we are comforted because for the first time for a long while, on every highway and byway and in every hamlet, the voice of condemnation can be heard against the action of the Prime Minister, and this opportunity


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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