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Wednesday, 16 March 1966


Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) . - The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) can scarcely accuse me of inconsistency. Much as we may regret it, whatever words we may apply to it, in my humble opinion we are at war and have been at war for a long time. When I came back from South East Asia in August last year and put a request to the Government for a service medal for Vietnam, every honorable member in this House was in favour of it. Service medals are not given when we are not at war. I congratulate the Government on now, rightly, giving that medal. I consider that we do not have to declare a state of emergency, but I feel that we must look at some of the logical consequences that follow from the fact we are at war. Surely we should review trading with the enemy, giving visas to Communists and others to visit enemy territory and allowing enemy propaganda centres to continue, such as the New China News Agency at 6 Queens Road in Melbourne which will report this little flutter of a demonstration outside Parliament House tonight so that it will be heard on the Peking Radio in its world news service at 6.30 tomorrow night. We must also consider such matters as the gratuitous distribution of enemy propaganda by our national broadcasting and television stations. I see that ABN2 in Sydney is again highlighting the interview with Ho Chi Minh, which it will show at 9.30 tonight.

This is a difficult world in which we live. Britain expects Australia to apply economic sanctions to Rhodesia. At the same time, Britain is sending ships to North Vietnam, with whom we are at war, as the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) mentioned the other day. I know the ships are few in number, but the principle is the same. Britain has the largest number of ships chartered to Peking, and 70 to 80 are flying the British flag. The Rhodesian Government has been declared illegal but, when Army leaders take over in Nigeria and Ghana, the British Government and the Australian Government immediately recognise them. I am not arguing whether the British and Australian Governments are right or wrong in doing this. Britain supports

Zambia. Zambia withdrew its High Commissioner from Accra in Ghana on 4th March. The British broadcasting station is working in conjunction with the Zambian broadcasting station, which sends psychological broadcasts to Rhodesians. It broadcasts such statements as: " Kill these European lice when they are alone and out at picnics " and: " Slaughter their cattle or hamstring them and destroy and burn the crops ". No wonder people become confused, whether they are Australians or Britishers, when the words " traitor " and " treason " in this modern day seem to have no meaning whatever.

I turn to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I could not help but feel rather sorry for him last night. I understand his press secretary has resigned. I suppose it may only be coincidental, but it sounded to me as if the speech he made was very similar in its expressions of policy and almost in its language to speeches that have been delivered by Mr. Hartley, the Victorian Secretary of the Australian Labour Party.


Mr Calwell - How silly can you get!


Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - It may be only coincidental. I looked at the calendar yesterday and found that it was 15th March. That of course was the Ides of March, a date, when centuries ago, Imperial Caesar, while walking down the streets of Rome, was warned by the soothsayer, " Beware the Ides of March ". I thought that the Labour Leader, Caesar Augustus, was more fearful than fearless. He was a bit afraid that something funny might happen on the way to the forum of the Labor Executive on 25th March. He seemed to be looking over his shoulder trying to decide whether, amongst the throngs going to the caucus room, the " Brutus " Whitlam or the "Brutal" Witless had the majority. He decided finally that it was the latter, and then enunciated their internal and external policies. Tonight, I shall devote my time to external policies.

Firstly I desire to give my very warmest congratulations to the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and his Government on the first policy statement that they have presented to the House. After a long period of hesitancy, caused mainly, I believe, by the Government's false hope that Peking would abandon its plan for world conquest, the Government faced the situation. We have followed other policies in the past, but now the new Government has made a very realistic approach to the situation in our region of the world and to Australia's responsibilities therein. Any competent observer, with a sound knowledge of and interest in this nation's future security and prosperity, would agree with the Prime Minister's statement. The previous delay in our defence policy has, of course, handicapped the Government, and I should think that most of the Ministers would admit that they must accept some responsibility for the delay. However, the Prime Minister's new appreciation given in this House the other night was as refreshing as a fall of rain after a long drought. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition was based largely on the question of sending what he called conscripts to Vietnam. The use of the word " conscripts " is a despicable party manoeuvre in a time of national danger. These men are national servicemen. I know that the Leader of the Opposition shows political sagacity when he uses the word " conscripts ". It appeals to the basest of human motives. It appeals to emotion and not reason. It is an attempt to undermine the morale of the families and friends of our national servicemen and other groups fighting for us in Vietnam today. Why does the Leader of the Opposition object to conscription? The Australian Labour Party has always said that no man has any right to earn his livelihood in Australia unless he joins a trade union.


Mr Falkinder - They call it economic conscription.


Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) asked to carry the whole burden. Labour believes in one in all in. However, in this situation we cannot use all those who are liable for service, so we use the ballot system to select the part we can use. If Opposition members can tell me of any better method of selection than the ballot system, I will be pleased to hear it. The system of seeking volunteers was tried over a long period, but it failed because such a system always fails in a country that has a successful economic policy with almost overfull employment. The .situation today is such that any Australian who realises the position will naturally support the Government's proposition.

The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) at Beaumaris on Sunday night referred to conscription in 1 966 as " a monumental exercise in immorality imposed on the Australian people". I do riot know what these words mean or whether he is an expert in immorality. I do not think he is. He also said -

I.   doubt the validity of their action and the Government's sincerity.

The honorable member for Wills will excuse me if I cannot understand what he means by that conglomeration of words. I also doubt his sincerity. Let us apply these tests to his real leader, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), who has put forward the same arguments time and time again. Like the river, after which his constituency is named, they are ever flowing. They have been flowing from him for a long time. Early this month, the honorable member for Yarra spoke at a meeting at Mosman. I. think it was held in the town hall. He started with an excellent statement. He said -

I am a man who hates violence.

Are we not all men who hate violence? Later in his speech he became a bit worked up when interjectors started throwing questions at him. He was asked whether he was against guerrilla warfare. He said -

What is wrong with guerrilla warfare?

Everyone of us knows that guerrilla warfare is a cruel and dirty form of warfare; the fighters are in civilian clothes one minute and in uniform the next. But not content with this contradiction of his beliefs, he went further in answer to a question. He was asked -

If you were a member of the Government and Papua and New Guinea or Australia were attacked, what would you do?

Mark well his answer. He said -

If Australia or New Guinea was attacked, Australian forces should be used to defend the country and an appeal should be made immediately to the United Nations to arrange a cease fire. If this was unsuccessful, I would be prepared to call in American forces in an endeavour to bring about peace as quickly as possible.

In other words, he would call in American forces or draftees, as they call their national servicemen, to protect Australia and Papua and New Guinea, but for some reason or another, whether there is some magic about the equator line as compared with the 17th parallel, it is not the correct thing for Australia to support America in protecting South Vietnam. If anyone can follow the strange twists of that tortured mind I should like to hear from him. However, this highlights - brings into bold relief - the hollow hypocrisy of the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition.

I have great sympathy for the relatives and friends of those who are serving in Vietnam. Those of us who have been in the field probably have more sympathy than others. I have great sympathy for the Save Our Sons Association. I received a letter from one of its officials the other day and I replied -

I can understand and sympathise with your feelings but what you do not realise is that someone else's sons in Australia's front line today are protecting you from torture, rape and sudden death.

Some people do not look further than their own front gates. Australians have to look much further than that. This evening we witnessed a student demonstration outside Parliament House. About 30 or 40 students were involved. I have always had a high appreciation of the intellectual seat of learning in Canberra. However after seeing one poster bearing a crude remark about conscription - and I will not repeat it here because most honorable members probably saw it - I am afraid that my estimate must have been sadly astray. Why did they stage this demonstration? They hope that they will get their picture in the front page of a newspaper. They know that the only time the Tass Press photographer appears is when one of these demonstrations takes place. They know that a report of this demonstration will go to the New China News Agency of 6 Queens Road, Melbourne, and that it will be cabled overseas and will be referred to on the Peking radio world news tomorrow night.

These things have been happening. I draw attention to this because we are not taking sufficient notice of the psychological war, and we are losing it so fast it could be disastrous. Our defeat is being helped, aided and abetted by such speeches as were made by the Leader of the Opposition and other members who supported him in this debate. They probably do not do it consciously but unconsciously their speeches echo the Communist propaganda. We let the New China News Agency operate freely while we have soldiers in Vietnam and the left wing of the Labour Party steadily propagates, whether it knows it or not, the Communist line that this war is unwinnable. It is not. It is both necessary and winnable and at present it is slowly being won. Furthermore, I point out to those who feel kindly towards Red China that she is carrying on this psychological warfare in another area, namely, through the drug trade. Red China is the biggest dope pedlar in the world and she is seeking to undermine the morality and the morale of our younger generation. All in all members opposite can support Red China if they like, but the quicker they learn what is going on the better it will be for Australia.

I should like now to turn to defence expenditure. Unfortunately the Prime Minister in his statement did not draw attention to the consequences of the British White Paper on Defence, although he did so in a speech in Sydney on 24th February. Sooner or later Australians have to learn, and the sooner the better, that in effect Britain, like Rome of old, is calling her legions home from the far flung frontiers. She is withdrawing from east of Suez. How long this will take, I do not know. Mr. Mayhew, the Minister of the Navy who resigned, stated correctly that if she is withdrawing, her expenditure is too big, but if she is not withdrawing, it is not big enough. £;r David Luce, the First Sea Lord, stated when he resigned -

Without carriers it would be impossible for Britain to maintain an effective military presence east of Suez.

Britain is not building any more carriers. America is building three more carriers. Britain is withdrawing from Aden in 1968. Island bases will not replace Aden; they will be merely communication and refuelling bases. Britain is withdrawing from the southern part of Africa. This means that in the Indian Ocean Australia will have to play her part, small or large as it may be, in providing carrier based planes as well as land based planes, because if the Suez Canal is closed the only trade route to Australia will be via south of Africa. This means that the Simonstown base is important, and another base will have to be built on the west coast of Australia, backed by the industrial complexes of Australia and America. The whole of Africa south of the Zambesi will become important in world strategy, particularly Australian strategy.

I am not criticising Britain's withdrawal. It may have been inescapable as a result of the sacrifices she has made in two World Wars. I do not agree with " News Week " which said that Britain was withdrawing in order to get more prosperity for her people. That is not the British character. However, the fact remains that she is withdrawing end it means that we now have to look at things in a different light and stand on our own feet. We must decide our own policies and cease to rely on Britain and the British taxpayer. We must pay our own way. I am sure that if Australians understand the position they will accept the challenge as they have accepted other challenges in the past. I might add a word of warning. It will need wider maps, a clearer perception and an unselfish courage and outlook if we are to preserve not only our own security and prosperity but that of our friends and allies in South East Asia whose security is allimportant to us. Other members have spoken of this fully and there is no need for me to enlarge upon it.

Thank God for America at the present time. Until the United Nations can provide a police force to protect the smaller nations and is ready to do so, somebody has to do the job. I am glad our Government has decided that Australia will stand alongside America, Korea and the other allies who are doing this work in South East Asia despite the fact that, in the words of the old song: "The policeman's lot is not a happy one." Finally, may I leave with members the words of Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of that famous Indian Mahatma Gandhi, which appeared in his newspaper " Himmat " recently -

Freedom is not free. Its price has no ceiling nor can it be defended on the cheap.







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