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Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr MACKINNON (Corangamite.) .- Mr. Speaker-

Mr Pollard - Mr. Speaker, may I move that the honorable member for East Sydney be granted an extension of time?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member is not in order. The honorable member for Corangamite has been given the call.

Mr MACKINNON - During this week we have been debating probably one of the most important foreign affairs statements that have been made since I became a member of this eminent House. As the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) mentioned, an opportunity has been afforded to honorable members on both sides of the House to express some constructive and thoughtprovoking ideas about the development and direction of Australia's foreign policy. Unfortunately, however, members of the Opposition, with the exception of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who have spoken so far, have, following the lead of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), devoted themselves to a personal attack on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).

Following the delivery of the Prime Minister's speech, a censure motion was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. Following that an amendment was foreshadowed by my friend the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), the terms of which were almost the reverse of those contained in the Opposition's censure motion. Quite frankly, I believe that the amendment moved by my friend was unnecessary, because the public of Australia and members of this House will judge this debate on the failure of the Opposition to support its censure motion. Every one who has had the opportunity to listen to practically all this debate and who has done so, as I have, will realize the weakness of the Opposition's argument, how little honorable members opposite have done to support Australia's case in the eyes of the world, and just how little of a constructive nature they have added to the direction of Australia's foreign policy. In other words, all they have attempted to do has been to take a weak party political trick.

An unfortunate, feature of Australian political life and public life generally is the tendency to attempt to undermine or, even worse, to delight in undermining or pulling down our leading figures. Let me quote a case in point. Quite recently the famous cricketer Neil Harvey passed through a phase when he was not making 100 runs every time he went in to bat. The press immediately came out with the story that he was over the hill, that his eyesight had gone and that we could not send him to England. I guarantee that he will still produce in the future the results that he has produced in the past.

The same thing applies, but perhaps even more so, in the political field. It has become the habit - ^doubtless it flows from normal party political conflict - to pull some one down if he is big. If ever I have seen an instance of that in this House it was when I watched the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to-night delivering a speech in which he. excelled himself in making a vicious attack on his great political opponent. He was like a mongrel cur yapping around the heels of a thoroughbred horse. If ever there has been an occasion when the incapacity of the honorable member for East Sydney to rise to his responsibility as a senior member of the Queen's Opposition in this House and to produce something really constructive for the benefit of the people of Australia has been displayed, it has been to-night.

It is usual for the Opposition, when we are discussing foreign policy, to go out of its way to attack a friendly government in another part of the British Commonwealth or of the world. It is very easy for the Opposition to do that, because honorable members opposite have not the responsibility of answering as a government in terms of satisfaction when the moment arises. I hope that that moment will not arise for a long time yet. It is quite obvious that the intemperate approach of members of the Opposition and their indeterminate leadership would not encourage another country to have much respect for what is sometimes described by the press as being the alternative government of Australia. The censure motion that has been proposed by the Opposition will not have any effect in Australia. The position of the Prime Minister is assured. There is so much confidence in his ability to handle these problems that the countries not only of the Commonwealth but also of the Western world, and the other main countries with which he has had an opportunity to make contact, remain friendly to us. There is a constant effort on the part of the Opposition to imply that the Prime Minister has some sympathy with, or was prepared to condone, the racial policy of apartheid. Such statements are so far from the truth that they are wilfully mischievous. They are only calculated to damage our good relations with the South-East Asian people, which the Opposition constantly emphasizes are of major consideration to Australia. Where is the consistency in the Opposition's attitude?

It has been said to-day that we are living in a time of changing winds. I believe, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) explained this afternoon in a very learned speech, that we would be wise to cling to our British Commonwealth relations. Emphasis is constantly laid on the necessity for Australia to cement good relations with our South-East Asian neighbours. No one will seriously dispute or reject that proposition. But over and above that immediate consideration, our old ties with true, trusted and long-standing friends cannot be readily severed. In this connexion,

I wish to refer to the comments of Professor Hugh Seton Watson in a very erudite and recent history of the modern world entitled " Neither War Nor Peace ". He was discussing the difficulty of avoiding issues which would arouse resentment on racial or other grounds in the minds of Afro-Asian people. He wrote -

It is difficult to see how in the predictable future solutions can be found which will satisfy Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East, Frenchmen and Moslems in Algeria, Europeans and Africans in Kenya or the Rhodesias. Spectacular anticolonial gestures by the western governments - such as the expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth, or the declaration in favour of Dutch evacuation of New Guinea which radical publicists on both sides of the Atlantic sometimes urge - might win some words of praise from Asian governments-

Note the word " governments " - but they would bitterly wound millions of loyal friends of the west without doing any good to the Bantu or the Papuans.

One of the main points made in the savage remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney was the suggestion that the Australian Government should lend its support to clause 3 of the proposed resolution relating to South Africa, the clause dealing with the invocation of sanctions against that country. Does he, any other member of the Opposition, any one in this place or any one in Australia seriously believe that the imposing of the economic sanctions on South Africa will help the lot of the Bantu? Does he seriously believe that to create a series of conditions in South Africa which would, bring about a cessation of employment, a cessation of industry and limitation of trade will help the Bantu, who form the main working section of that community? lt is an insult to the intelligence of every one in this House and of every one in Australia even to suggest that the invocation of sanctions is a good thing for the people who we believe should be helped.

I pass now to my next point. The Prime Minister has never attempted to disguise his profound respect for, and loyalty to, the British Crown. Although there may be some in this place who at times adopt a pretence that those old loyalties do not really mean much and that they can be discarded lightly in our Commonwealth relations, I sincerely believe - I hope this is correct - that" that is only a facade put on for the benefit of the more undesirable type of electorate, the type of electorate which we in our minds associate with unity tickets. I sincerely hope that this attitude is purely a political pose and does not really express the feelings of any friend that I have on the Opposition side of this Parliament.

Mr Uren - Are you trying to suggest that there are better Australians in one electorate than there are in another?

Mr MACKINNON - I know that you have to do it. I understand your attitude; I am not criticising it. I should like to stress in this atmosphere the importance to the Prime Minister of this attitude of affection and respect for the Crown. Is it any wonder that he has shown his feelings so strongly? Is it any wonder that he has done everything in his power to retain South Africa within the Commonwealth and that, when the breach occurred, he expressed his despair at the turn of events? I believe that there are few Australians who would not have expected or demanded that he should act in this way. Is it any wonder that once the precedent had been established he expressed himself in terms of foreboding about the developments that could occur in Commonwealth relations?

When the people of Australia remember this fact I am sure that they will accept with gratitude the superhuman efforts that the Prime Minister made in trying to retain South Africa within the Commonwealth, despite the policies of the South African Government which formed the basis of disagreement. It might be said that the tie to the Crown already had been weakened by South Africa's decision to become a republic, but this inference is not supported at all when one considers the relationship existing between India, Pakistan and the Mother Country. The recent Royal Visit to Pakistan and India was an outstanding exemplification of the theory and philosophy that I am trying to present to the House. The spontaneous show of loyalty and affection by the humble people of India and Pakistan to the visiting royalty was sufficient to illustrate to my mind - and I believe to the densest person in this House - the inestimable value of continued Commonwealth relationship, even between republics and the Crown.

Menzies is a Commonwealth man, a man of tremendous loyalty to and with a deep and abiding affection for the Crown. Although he does not need me to say this on his behalf, 1 believe that every one in Australia will realize that his actions were based on very deep feelings, and that history probably will show that he was correct.

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