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Thursday, 17 March 1966

Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- The Parliament of the nation has been listening to the baron from Bondi, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), who blows in and out of this Parliament al alternate elections like a napkin from a clothes line to a home. The greater part of his speech was levelled against the administration of this country by the Labour Party, of which 1 am very proud to be a member, during its term of office. The honorable member failed to tell the Parliament why he missed out in the Cabinet reshuffle, why he failed to realise his aspiration to become a member of the Holt Cabinet. He also failed to tell the Parliament how he was preselected to enable him to become the member for Phillip. I am proud to say that the electors of Hunter determine my preselection. They determine who shall represent them in the national Parliament. That is a thoroughly democratic method. I do not want to waste much time replying to the honorable member, because I do not think his speech was worthy of it, but I want to remind him that a former member for Herbert, a member of the Liberal Party, Mr. John Murray - who is now the State member for Clayfield in the Queensland Parliament - was recently reported in the Brisbane " Courier Mail " as saying -

Members might disagree with the Executive on policy, but they cannot deny the right of the Executive to define a policy.

An overwhelming majority of members of the Labour Party also believe in that principle.

The Parliament is debating the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) made to this Parliament last week to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has moved an amendment which registers the Labour Party's emphatic, and I might add, its violent opposition, to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam and the increased military commitment in that country. The amendment further expresses the Opposition's disapproval of the Government's failure to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian community. Prices are soaring to an all time high and wages are remaining static. I pity the people of this nation in the low income group who are trying to maintain a reasonable standard of living for their wives and children with today's soaring prices.

Mr Hansen - What about pensioners?

Mr JAMES - The pensioners are people whom I have particularly in mind. By the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition we protest at the inadequate and improper Australian share in the ownership and development of our national resources, particularly in northern Australia, and at the Government's neglect of Australia's drought stricken farmers and its failure to conserve the water resources of this nation. The Hunter Valley has suffered one of the most devastating droughts experienced since white men came to the country. The Glenbawn Dam, which was built through the foresightedness of the New South Wales Labour Government is at an all time low level. The water is 29 ft. below the spillway and the water restrictions imposed upon farmers in the Hunter Valley could have been avoided by a long range Australian developmental policy, as advocated by the Labour Party for many years.

The Opposition also points out to the Government the shocking lack of adequate finance to meet the housing needs of the nation and the Government's omission to hold a referendum to alter the Constitution to give Aborigines the right to vote and the privileges to which these indigenous people of Australia have been entitled for a long time. Parliament passed a bill last year to hold a referendum on 28th May. The Government has abandoned the referendum, to my mind, because of the economic crisis into which this country is being led by this Government.

I desire to direct the greater portion of my remarks to the major question which concerns the Australian people today, and that is the conscription of 20 year olds for service in the Vietnam war. The Prime Minister's Government has committed now 4,500 Australian troops to Vietnam of which a considerable number will be 20 year old conscripts. Government supporters claim that our involvement is to protect Australia from the downward thrust of Chinese Communism. Nothing is further from the truth, because China, as we know, has not one single combat troop in Vietnam. On the contrary, if we take note of a statement by one of the senior officials of the Pentagon - in other words the War Office of the United States - as reported on page 22 of the United States magazine " Newsweek " of 15th March last year, we find that the military potential of the Chinese is geared entirely for defence rather than offence. The article pointed out-

Mr Chipp - What rot.

Mr JAMES - If it is rot, then the official of the Pentagon was misleading the readers of " Newsweek ". The article pointed out that half of the Chinese army, which numbers 2.3 million men, is poised in the north opposite Russia. Admittedly it is the largest and most well equipped army in the world - but it is equipped with light automatic weapons according to the article in " Newsweek". These light automatic weapons are for close combat duty. The article goes on to say that the Chinese army " sadly lacks heavy artillery, tanks, trucks and carriers". ls this the equipment of an aggressor? Is this the equipment of a country that wants to make territorial gains? Is this the equipment of a country that, as our people are being led to believe by Government supporters, is likely to threaten the shores of Australia in the immediate future? It is complete poppycock which Government supporters are pouring into the throats and minds of the Australian people. It is high time that the newspapers played the true role they should play, in the freedom they get in a democratic community, and told the people the truth about some of these matters which 1 am pointing out here this afternoon.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - Has the honorable member ever been there?

Mr JAMES - Yes, I have been to China. I was there in 1962. The honorable member might adopt a different view to that which he holds if he had been there too. In view of his statements in this Parliament it is doubtful whether China would ever allow him to enter. The Chinese army is described as an army for fighting in rough terrain and the article goes on to say that it is no match for a modern conventional army in the open. It is a large well trained militia. The Chinese air force has only 2,000 planes, 1,500 of which are obsolete M.I.G. fighters of the 15 and 17 type. The bomber fleet consists of 150 llyushin 28 Russian light jet bombers and a few ancient TU4 propeller driven bombers, and the whole of 'he air force suffers from a sad lack of jet fuel and spare parts. The navy is purely defensive, according to the article, geared to operate in shallow waters. It has four old Soviet destroyers and 24 vintage Soviet submarines. The bulk of the navy is made up of 1,000 gun boats, torpedo boats, minesweepers and armed junks, an amphibious force capable of landing only two battalions. Is (his the defence potential of an aggressor which is threatening other countries and the shores of Australia? That suggestion is utter ry. The Press of this nation should tell the people of China's defence potential. Their amphibious force is not sufficient to take Manly from the southern side of Sydney and is not sufficient to take the electorate of Mackellar - one look at that and they would flee.

We know that the American U-2 aircraft, at the instigation of the Central Intelligence Agency, have photographed the whole of the Chinese defence potential. Time will not permit me to say very much about the CLA. Its story appears in a book " The Invisible Government " which has recently come into the Parliamentary Library. I recommend it as reading for Government supporters because it points out some of the most scurrilous and villainous things in which the CLA. has involved itself. The book states that the CLA. virtually dictates to the American Government. I seriously believe that, in view of its history as described in this book, the CLA. could be playing a part in the politics of Australia. The preamble to the book slates -

This startling and disturbing book is the first full, authentic account of America's intelligence and espionage apparatus - an invisible government, with the CLA. at its centre, that conducts the clandestine policies of the United States in the Cold War.

The present Director of Central Intelligence is Mr. John McCone who was appointed head of CLA. of the United States following the muddling of the invasion of Cuba by Allen Dulles, brother of Foster Dulles who was formerly Secretary of State of the United States. McCone virtually became a millionaire from the profits he made during World War II. At page 193 the book states -

Outside the scientific community, many were disturbed by McCone's big wartime profits in the ship-building business. Ralph E. Casey of the General Accounting Office, a watchdog arm of the Congress, testified in 1946 that McCone and his associates in the California Shipbuilding Company made $44,000,000 on an investment of $100,000.

Yet we hear about the sinews of war. The sinews of war are gold and silver and for a long time have been and will continue to be until the ruthlessness of capitalism is removed from the face of the earth.

To my mind Australia should never have become involved in the Vietnam war. Nor should the United States have become involved, but that is entirely a matter for that country. The defeat of the French in Vietnam should have proved to the world the strength of the Vietnamese nationalism. We learn that after seven years of fighting the French had incurred 150,000 casualties, one-third of whom were dead or missing, and that the cost to the French Government was $5 billion. The French force consisted of approximately 200,000 of their crack combat troops plus 200,000 natives from the associated States of IndoChina. I believe that the only solution to the Vietnam war is an immediate ceasefire and a conference between the Hanoi Government, the Saigon Government and the National Liberation Front. China and the United States also should be directed to take their seats at the negotiating table, and there should be an ultimate withdrawal of United States and other foreign troops. There should be free elections throughout the whole of Vietnam.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - That is the Corns' statement.

Mr JAMES - That is not the Corns' statement; it is the belief held by people in Australia when they learn the truth of the Vietnam war. The recent Honolulu conference on Vietnam, attended by President Johnson and Air Vice Marshal Ky, seems to have brought no fruitful result. We learn that on President Johnson's return to Los Angeles on 8th February last he spoke of his sound targets for social reform in South Vietnam. Three days later at his White House news conference, when asked to quote the targets that he had in mind, he is alleged to have said: " We do not have any." We accept that President Johnson urged the Saigon Government to tighten up on corruption and black marketing. Hence we learn that a corrupt Chinese millionaire, referred to in the House the other day by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), was publicly executed in Saigon for being involved in rackets. If I may interrupt myself at that point, the honorable member for Evans pointed out that there had been a revolting display on television a few nights ago when he and his wife and children were watching. He said that a Chinese millionaire had been publicly executed in the streets of Saigon. But it is not so many months ago that the honorable member for Evans, a former educationist and Principal of Basser College, criticised me in this chamber when I said that war toys should be removed from the shops throughout Australia so that the minds of Australian children would not be contaminated. We now have a complete reversal from this great educationist and former Principal of Basser College who now sits in this House.

Australia was not invited to the Honolulu conference, despite her commitment in Vietnam. Yet we find that Vice-President Humphrey, who was not at the conference, came to Australia allegedly to brief our Government on the Honolulu conference decisions. Australia believes that this is not the reason why Vice-President Humphrey came here. Australians are not fools, although the Government, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the previous Prime Minister have treated them as such. The real reason for Vice-President Humphrey's visit was to solicit more troops. Senator Fulbright made a public statement in the United States shortly before the arrival of Vice-President Humphrey in this country that Australia should contribute more in war material and manpower to the Vietnam war. In my opinion the real reason why Vice-President Humphrey came to Australia was to get more troops. I believe that the Australian people should be told the truth about these missions and not kept in the dark. I believe that the cat was let completely out of the bag by a statement attributed to Vice-President Humphrey after he left Australia and went to Saigon. The " Far Eastern Economic Review ", a conservative magazine, states -

Before departing Saigon for Bankok, U.S. VicePresident Humphrey appealed for more countries to join U.S. in helping South Vietnam tight " Communist aggression ".

So it is only commonsense to assume that Vice-President Humphrey's mission to Australia was for that purpose. I believe that the people of the United States are gravely concerned at America's involvement in Vietnam because of the increasing number of casualties among American boys for whom we on this side of the chamber feel just as much sympathy as do the boys' relatives. I believe that the thinking on this side of the Parliament is not anti-American, but we are most unhappy about the activities of the United States Government in the Vietnam war. If there were Communist aggression in South Vietnam - I say that it is a nationalist uprising - the appeal for additional Australian aid would undoubtedly be listened to more sympathetically, but surely every reasonable and honest man must consider that the war in Vietnam is a civil war, a nationalist uprising of a people fighting for a better way of life, a people who on finding that they had been deprived of a vote and that the principles of the 1954 Geneva Conference were not to be put into effect took up arms to achieve these principles. Here we find the most powerful nation in the world with the most modern scientific weapons of war, raining down napalm, phosphorous, gas and Lazy Dog bombs on innocent communities.

I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and other Opposition members that no military solution to the Vietnam war is possible. We have been informed that there is a strong pressure on the United States Government from the war hawks in the United States who want to bomb the dams in North Vietnam. This was reported in the "Australian " on 9th December 1965. The dams we bombed in 1945 and famine and floods caused the deaths of 1 million people. This is said to be a conservative figure supplied by the French. General Le May said in a recent book -

We can bomb North Vietnam back into the stone age. Between 1 million and 3 million will drown in a flash if we do this. They will have no chance to reach high ground, and that includes Hanoi.

How dreadful it would be to have Australia's name coupled with such an act, should it occur. It could well occur as a result of the pressure being placed on the United States Government by the war hawks, the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell - Who said that?

Mr JAMES - General Le May.

Mr Bridges-Maxwell - Where was it reported?

Mr JAMES - I mentioned that a few moments ago. If the honorable member had listened he would have heard. It was reported in the " Australian " on 9th December last. I conclude with the words of Francis Moore, who wrote -

When after many battles past,

Both tired with blows make peace at last,

What is it after alf people get?

Why, taxes, widows, wooden limbs and debt.

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