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Friday, 10 December 1965

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I wish to say something about the statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on Rhodesia. It was a very important statement and I am sure that all honorable members are greatly concerned about the unhappy events in that country. The statement by the Prime Minister yesterday, and the additional sanctions against the illegal government of Rhodesia which the statement announced, represent logical, and indeed inevitable, consequences of the policy of sanctions adopted by the Government last month. Therefore, the Opposition wholeheartedly supports these further sanctions, as we supported the original statement of policy. We accept them as evidence of the Government's sincerity of support for the course being pursued by the British Government, and of its determination, along with the British Government, to bring to an end, as early as possible, the illegal and unconstitutional regime which falsely calls itself the government of Rhodesia.

Further, we take the Prime Minister's statement as a guarantee that he repudiates the views expressed by his nominal supporters in the debate on Rhodesia on 17th November, notably the statement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw). I will not refer to that extraordinary performance from the Government side, beyond saying that the implications clearly contained in the speeches of those honorable gentlemen were in direct opposition to the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister only the day before. Indeed, it is difficult to exclude the speech of the Minister for External Affairs himself from this impeachment. However, we are entitled to regard the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday as proof that these views have not prevailed.

Nobody takes pleasure in the policy of sanctions which it has been the duty of the British Government, the Australian Government and most other governments of the world to impose against the rebel regime in Rhodesia. That it is a rebel regime, a semiFascist regime, is beyond question. The policy that the Australian Government is pursuing inevitably involves human hardship, and nobody wishes to take pleasure in imposing hardship. Nor is there any real consolation in the reflection that those against whom the sanctions are directed are alone responsible, by their folly, their arrogance and wilful blindness, for the tragic situation in which they now find themselves. But it is quite plain that unless sanctions are applied and are quickly successful, something much worse will follow. lt is to the prevention of the horrors of war in Rhodesia - and this, let it be noted, would rapidly and inevitably become a racial war - that all our endeavours must now be directed. And this means that the nonmilitary sanctions must be as complete, as far reaching, as direct and inflexible as possible. There is no escape from this harsh and dreadful necessity. As I said in my speech on the Prime Minister's original statement, we cannot exclude the possibility that force may have to be used to end the illegal Smith regime, however much we may deplore the melancholy necessity.

Already, Mr. Speaker, we have the threat from the African states that unless the policy of sanctions has succeeded by 15th December - only five days away - they will begin a course of action separate from that of Great Britain.

Sir Robert Menzies - I do not think we ought to treat that too literally. The 15th seems a little arbitrary.

Mr CALWELL - Yes, I thought that too, but then the Prime Minister and I, and every member of this House, have occidental mentalities, and I suppose people of other races - Oriental and African - have a different way of approaching things. So 1 was somewhat inclined to take their statement literally.

Sir Robert Menzies - My mentality is occasionally accidental.

Mr CALWELL - I hope that they have accidental mentalities in regard to this matter, but if it does happen by 15th December it will be a bad thing. We have this statement that unless the policy of sanctions has succeeded by 15th December the African states will begin a course of action separate from that of Great Britain. I hope they will not. No one wants the African states, or anybody else, to put down an arbitrary date and then, if something does not happen to their satisfaction, to start some military adventure. I believe we would all agree that that would be disastrous. Those who would limit the action of the British Government, and of other governments including our own, to little more than refusal to grant legal recognition to the Smith regime apparently fail to see that, in the situation existing in Africa today, such an ineffectual policy could lead only to bloodshed. Such men, not the Africans, are the true irresponsibles. The only responsible course is to apply immediately and rigorously all economic and diplomatic sanctions within our power in the hope that by so doing we can avoid the need for ultimate resort to force.

In his statement on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that the additional sanctions now meant that 90 per cent, of our trade with Rhodesia had ceased. I assume that there is some explanation as to why the gap of 10 per cent, still remains and we on this side of the House would welcome clarification on this point.

Sir Robert Menzies - If I might interrupt the honorable gentleman, I have had these figures checked. The actual figure is 93 per cent, and what is left out of a trade of £2 million is obviously trivial.

Mr CALWELL - It is not great. However, as I predicted in my speech of 17th November, there is a broad level of agreement between the Opposition and the Government, if not all supporters of the Government, on the general policies which should be adopted within our own sphere of competence and power. I regret, as I regretted then, that the Prime Minister thought it proper to condemn the possible use of force in advance, because, as I have said, it is impossible to be certain that the British Government may not ultimately have to exert force should its non-military sanctions fail to bring the Rhodesian rebels to their senses.

Anything that brings comfort, or the suggestion of outside support or sympathy, to the rebels is to be deplored, because it sustains them in the delusion - and delusion it most certainly is - that they might somehow succeed in their act of rebellion, based on their unilateral declaration of independence. The only question is whether the instrument by which the rebellion will be ended will be the British Government or somebody else. To the extent that the Australian Government is acting to ensure that the British Government is given full support and every assistance in its endeavours, we support the statement of the Prime Minister.

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