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Wednesday, 16 March 1966


Mr KILLEN (Moreton) .- Although the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) does not include a specific censure of the Government, it amounts to a censure motion, and 1 am sure that members of the Opposition would be quite happy to regard it as a censure motion. Touching as it does upon so many major facets of the Government's present policy and activities, and worded as it is, the amendment plainly amounts to a censure motion. I do not think there would be any worthwhile argument on that point.

The most remarkable feature of the amendment, to my mind, is that it has been moved by a member of the Labour Party and on behalf of the other members of that Party. Let me say at once, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that at long last you can wring out of me an admission of admiration for the Labour Party. I would never have believed that a party in such a splended state of disarray as the Labour Party is at present would have had the hide to move what amounts to a censure motion upon the Government. That the amendment has been moved in the present circumstances is a most remarkable fact, and apparently it is one that has virtually escaped the attention of the Opposition. I do not believe that it should escape the attention of the Australian people because behind any censure motion, or any motion or amendment that amounts to a censure motion, stands the proposition that those proposing it represent the alternative government. Here we see the alternative government sitting on the opposite side of the House today, in a splended state of dissension.

Peace, we are told, has broken out between the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). They are struggling hard to come to some arrangement whereby they can converse with each other. I am bound to say that for my part I do not accept some of the rather extravagant suggestions that are made as to how their relationships are being conducted. For example, I dismiss rather summarily the claim that they are talking to each other through the medium of the Telstar satellite. We have heard the Leader of the Opposition speak in this debate. We are waiting with growing impatience for the observations to be made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, this wonderful man of destiny who has such a persuasive sense of vanity that he even sought to perpetuate part of his name by describing the executive of his Party as the witless 12. Is the Labour Party inhibited by such a statement? Are the members of the Labour Party embarrassed by it? Not a bit! They have launched forth on this censure motion. 1 think the people of this country should face the fact that the Labour Party regards its organisation outside the Parliament as being part of the system of government. There has never been any dispute about that. But now the witless 12 have referred the behaviour of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition .to the faceless 36, who are to meet on 25th March to consider the charge of gross disloyalty against the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Twenty days, strangely enough, Mr. Deputy Speaker, span the period between the lodging of the charge by the Federal Executive of the Labour Party and the hearing of the charge by the faceless 36. I thought how strangely apposite it was to reflect upon the way in which the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy have emerged more or less as Shakespeare's two gentlemen of Verona -

With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights; If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain; If lost, why then a grievous labour won; However, but a folly bought with wit, Or else a wit by folly vanquished.

Well, we will have to wait to find out whether the wit is going to be vanquished by folly on 25th March or whether the contrary will be the case.

The first and major part of the amendment deals with South Vietnam. Before I pass a few fleeting remarks on the major issue may I say that to me one of the singular features of the Labour Party's attack on the Government's policy of national service training has been the way in which the members of the Labour Party have waged a constant campaign of denigration of national service training. "Conscript" to the Labour Party is a dirty nine-letter word, and the members of that Party have tried to encourage the people of Australia to accept the proposition that there is something almost unwholesome about being a national service trainee. Patriotism, a decent pride in one's nation - these are sentiments which presumably honorable members opposite discount. It is rather interesting, Sir, that they put themselves in this position, because the campaign they have waged can be described as a most despicable one.

I want to turn to the remarks passed last night by the Leader of the Opposition. He said -

We have always been an anti-conscriptionist Party and we are proud of it. When we cease to be that, we cease to be an Australian Labour Party.

He went on -

We have agreed to the imposition of conscription only once in our history.

I love the use of the pronoun " we " in that context. Let me prevail upon you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to sweep back with me some 24 years and review the scene in this chamber at 5 o'clock on 11th December 1942. Those were terrible days for the people of this country. I will read to you some words spoken in this chamber on that day by a man who sat on the Government side - 1 know full well that five years hence no person at present sitting on this side of the House who votes for conscription will still be a member of the Parliament because the Labour movement will certainly have replaced him by an anticonscriptionist.

Who said that? The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the Leader of the Opposition today. Yet he had the temerity to say in this House last night: " We have agreed to the imposition of conscription only once ". Again I direct attention to his use of the plural pronoun. No person in those dark, desperate days was more flat-footed in his opposition to any form of national service than was the present Leader of the Opposition. Yet h' invokes, as it were, the royal plural, saying: "We have agreed". The honorable gentle man has not changed very much at all. But then he went on last night to say this -

We will never support the use of conscripts in overseas wars for the defence of any part of Asia. We will not accept any moral responsibility whatsoever in this matter.

Proud words to the honorable gentleman, but representative, I submit, of a strange and wretched doctrine - " We will never accept any moral- responsibility whatsoever in this matter ". Am- 1 to understand from the honorable gentleman that no matter what appeal came out of Asia, no matter from what country it came, no matter in what circumstances the appeal came, the honorable gentleman would sit and say: "We have no moral responsibility in this matter "? One can only assess his attitude on the plain meaning of the words used. There is no ambiguity about them. The honorable gentleman says: " We will not accept any moral responsibility in this matter ".

I hope that the Australian people will be given an opportunity to understand where the Leader of the Opposition - the alternative government - stands on this matter. Presumably one is entitled to put the view that he spoke on this occasion for his Party, although it is a rather hazardous business to try to find out when the honorable member speaks for his Party or when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - this man of destiny - speaks for his Party. I thought when I listened to the words of the Leader of the Opposition last night that what he said was odd indeed. Then my memory was jerked into the realisation that this was a basic revelation of his essential philosophy towards these matters and represented no departure at all from his previous attitude. In the dark, desperate days of 1942 - on this occasion on 10th December 1942 - the honorable member had something to say.


Mr Peters - Was that when Menzies abdicated?


Mr KILLEN - The honorable member for Scullin intrigues me. I think he is one of the most intriguing pieces of anatomy I have ever met. It is perfectly clear that he has not the wit to understand what I am talking about, but I would have thought he would have the stomach to listen to it

In 1942 the present Leader of the Opposition said -

To me geography does not matter. Whether the compulsion is for the south west Pacific or for Europe, it is still military conscription for overseas service, and therefore, abhorrent to the traditional, democratic principles of this country, and something that should be abhorred and shunned.

Note the words: " To me geography does not matter "'. Again one is driven to the irresistible conclusion, linking the expression of his philosophy with what he said last night - that the Labour Party will accept no moral responsibility whatever in this matter - that he takes the view that the people of this country should shun completely all activity hostile to the human race no matter where it occurs. I want to say only one thing about that: The nation that tries to live to itself will certainly perish by itself.

Let me turn now to the central thesis of the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, the one that he put to the House last night when he said: " The war in South Vietnam is a cruel, unwinnable, civil war". May I say to the honorable gentleman that I admit the cruelty of the war. I will not yield one ounce to him in my rejection of human cruelty, no matter what form it may take. I abhor cruelty as readily as does the Leader of the Opposition, but how real is it, Sir, to describe this as a civil war? Right throughout the debates upon Vietnam in this country the Labour Party has put emphasis upon one claim above all others - that this is a civil war. That is the line pursued by the Labour Party. 1 direct the attention of the House to the views of Ho Chi Minh. At least the honorable gentleman would not dub him a Fascist. This is what Ho Chi Minh had to say at the Third Congress of the Communist Party in Hanoi in September 1960 -

Dear comrades, the Vietnamese revolution is a part of the world forces of peace, democracy, and Socialism. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam is a member of the big Socialist family headed by the great Soviet Union.

Is there anything in that which would suggest that this is a civil war? Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the North Vietnamese, plainly identifies the fact that this war is part of the international Communist struggle. Some boofheads around the place may be disposed to reject the words of Ho Chi Minh, but I hope that all serious minded people will at least be prepared to recognise them even if they are not prepared to agree with them.

That brings me to the basic fallacy which, I submit, exists in the Labour Party's attitude towards Vietnam and which exists in the attitude of all those who agree with the Labour Party on this issue. The Labour Party and those other people want to regard the struggle in Vietnam today as being, first, a civil war - which I submit is complete nonsense - and beyond that they want to keep on maintaining the thesis that this war should be considered in isolation. You cannot consider events in South Vietnam in isolation. I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite - some of them with an unrivalled knowledge of the works of Mao Tse-tung - would be prepared to recognise his thesis on the waging of guerrilla warfare. In an adumbration, it comes to this: You set out to isolate the towns and cities and to maintain strength throughout the country. By keeping up this activity throughout the particular country you are in - subsequently this has been projected to the world stage - you eventually destroy the cities. This is the view put by the Vice Chairman oi the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Lin Piao, reported in the " Peking Review" of 3rd September 1965. I would imagine that to be a fairly acceptable authority for some honorable gentlemen opposite. It is put there in the plainest possible terms that Communist China regards " the struggle of the Vietnamese people against United States aggression and for national salvation " now as the '' focus of the struggle of the people of the world against U.S. aggression ". So what is happening in Vietnam is the broad manifestation of international Communist aggrandisement in the world today. If the problem were to be solved from the Communist point of view tomorrow it would manifest itself somewhere else.

I have not time to follow all the various frolics of the Leader of the Opposition. The last one to which I would like to refer is the old bromide about pulling in the United Nations. The honorable gentleman has never once suggested how this should be done, but I want to put this proposition to him: He recognises the existence of the United Nations. Suppose the United Nations Security Council, under Article 43, said say to this country: " Make available 40,000 servicemen to go into Vietnam for the purpose of intervening." Let us further assume that that number of troops was not immediately available. Would the honorable gentleman then be prepared to accept national service trainees? I put that proposition to him. There is this great contradiction in the policy of the Labour Party: It approbates the United Nations when it suits it to do so, but if the Labour Party were ever put in the spot where it had to reject any provision of the United Nations it would do so with the utmost alacrity.

Finally, I want to say that the Labour Party is failing in its parliamentary duty principally because it will not recognise the fact that the members of the Communist Party in this country, or outside this country are sheer scavengers of human dignity and human liberty. If there is to be any retreat in South Vietnam, if there is to be an abandonment of the people of South Vietnam to those who run international Communism, and the problem disappears in South Vietnam, the question to be asked is: Who will be next? This is the question I invite honorable gentlemen opposite to answer. If South Vietnam disappears, whose liberty is then to expire?

Debate (on motion by Mr. Coutts) adjourned.







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