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Thursday, 24 March 1966


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! 1 warn the honorable member for Hindmarsh.


Mr ANTHONY - When this failed, regular troops from North Vietnam were sent to South Vietnam, where there are known to be at least nine regiments now operating. On the home front, we face new problems, too, with this type of war, partly because of the confused nature of the war and partly because there are people in Australia who are supporting Communist philosophy. Within our community, there is a well organised campaign to undermine Australia's contribution to the war conducted by elements whose whole operation is one of deliberate subversion. There are others who have become fat and weak through living in our affluent society and who will not face the reality of the threat that Communism presents to this country and to the people of the countries of South East Asia. There are others with motives which I believe to be quite honest and highly principled, such as churchmen and some of our intellectuals, who have allowed their ideals and spiritual beliefs to woo their thinking away from the world of realism. AH of these people help to create an atmosphere of bewilderment. It is unfortunate that all of these categories of people seem to be present in varying degrees in the Opposition which seems to be doing everything possible to undermine Australia's contribution in this war.

If we are to justify our military commitments to Vietnam I believe that the political issues of this war must be made clear to all Australians. To remain purblind to the political implications is to risk sacrificing our liberty. We have a fine heritage and we have noble traditions. Whenever this country has been asked to fight for the liberty of other people we have rallied to the call and in responding we have indirectly protected our own families. It is these principles that moved our forefathers to fight in two world wars and in Korea and Malaya and I believe that the Australian people will still, whenever called upon, live up to these traditions.

Members of Parliament are sometimes too close to the bone of this problem to appreciate that the average man in the street might not fully understand the implications of the many issues in this war. I therefore believe that there is an obligation on all of us to see that the public is better informed so that people can judge for themselves much of the subversive propaganda that is floating about. The Communists have deliberately cluttered up the vital issues in this war with a cobweb of cliches, inaccuracies, misrepresentations and half truths. Their cliches have perverted the very meaning of words in our English language - phrases like the " people's civil war of South Vietnam ". Can anybody truly interpret as a civil war one that is being directed by foreign powers in Hanoi and Peking? What greater prostitution of the meaning of democracy can there be than the Communists' reference to what they call the " People's Democratic Republic of North Vietnam", or their use of the prefix " democratic " for any other Communist State? Nothing is further from the truth. There is not one institution in any of these countries that falls within the meaning of " democracy ". What free elections oan there possibly be when an Opposition is not allowed to exist; when the State cannot be criticised or censured in any shape or form? What a mockery of the use of the word " democracy " when the whole history of Communism is one of oppression, tyranny and gang like dictatorship! In the Communist lexicon- this play on words such as "National Liberation Front " is only a camouflage for Communist aggression. What liberation does Communism offer? This ambiguity of words we know only too well, with our experience in Malaya, where the National Liberation

Front of Malaya was nothing more than a Communist organisation to overthrow the existing Government. The National Liberation Front in Vietnam is only a front for Communist aggression.

I feel that it is a tragedy that when many of these stark facts about Communism are known there can be people in our community who become more obsessed and concerned with exploiting our own shortcomings and minor weaknesses - for no nation is perfect - than with really facing up to the big issues that Communism presents. These people, as genuine as they may be in their intentions, if allowed to carry their emotions to extremes, are really risking and undermining the whole of our liberty and our steadfast willingness to meet the threat of Communism.

The Communist threat we are facing in Vietnam is not the first. Nations of the free world have had to meet the menace of Communism on many occasions. By their determination they have succeeded in proving that they will not idly stand by in the face of aggression. Immediately after the Second World War wc found the Communists, with the backing of the Red Army, taking over many countries in Europe. I refer to countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria. In order to counter this challenge, the United States of America, along with the free European countries, had to establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to give Marshall Aid to enable those countries to build up their strength to resist the encroachment of Communism.

We faced a challenge in Berlin. We stood up against Communism in Greece, where Russia was the power behind the alleged civil war. We went to the aid of South Korea when Communist North Korea attacked. We remember only too well what happened in Tibet, a small isolated nation overrun by Communist China. In India we saw Chinese aggression on the northern border. In each of these cases we have seen Communism manifesting itself in many different forms, but on each occasion we have recognised it and we have acted. So we recognise the menace of Communism in Asia and we must show the same determination to resist it there as we have in other areas.

The problem in Asia is more difficult than it is in Europe. After the Second World War we managed to contain the Communists long enough to allow European countries, with their sophisticated government and social institutions, to establish democracy. In Asia, however, there are few countries which know what self-government is, or which have the capacity to establish this type of government. For this reason our obligations, both military and economic, are even greater in this region. So we are in South Vietnam at the request of a Government and people who have sought the help of friendly nations in resisting a campaign of aggression and subversion aimed at destroying their independence and forcibly bringing them under Communist domination. We are there in fulfilment of our treaty obligations and responsibilities and to preserve and promote peace and stability in an area of direct and vital concern to Australia. Those are the reasons why, as the Prime Minister said tonight, three different American administrations - under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson - had given their full support to the struggle in South Vietnam.

During the last five years, in which the war in Vietnam has been slowly assuming greater significance, the Americans have repeatedly stated that they are prepared to talk and to negotiate for peace. Time and time again they have stated that they have no desire in this war other than to allow the people of South Vietnam to choose their own type of government. They want no military bases. They have no selfish economic objectives, nor do they want to overthrow the existing North Vietnamese Government.

The United States of America, and indeed many other countries, have taken the initiative to negotiate for peace talks, but on every occasion, without exception, the overtures have been rejected by Hanoi. Hanoi has insisted that its four conditions for settlement must be accepted as the sole basis for any peace talks. The first approaches for peace talks began with President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961. Since then many public moves have been made and many more private moves. I refer to the Geneva Conference on Laos; the United States reference of the Gulf of Tonkin matter to the United Nations Security Council in August 1964; the call of 17 non-aligned nations for negotiations without preconditions; attempts by U Thant to visit Hanoi and Peking; President Johnson's call for unconditional discussions; the British Commonwealth Committee on Vietnam; and attempted or actual visits by Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, Mr. Davies M.P. and a Ghanaian delegation.

It was suggested that the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam might produce the necessary conditions for possible peace talks. The bombing ceased for 37 days and again there was no response. The Americans have done everything possible to seek an honorable peace. The contribution they are prepared to make to bring about peace is summarised in 14 points.


Mr James - Tell us what Senator Wayne Morse says.


Mr ANTHONY - If the honorable member will listen he might become a little more enlightened. The points are as follows - 1. The Americans say that the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and 1961 are an adequate basis for peace in South East Asia. 2. They would welcome a conference on South East Asia or any part thereof. 3. They would welcome negotiations without preconditions, as the 17 nations put it. 4. They would welcome unconditional discussions, as President Johnson put it. 5. The Americans have said that a cessation of hostilities could be the first order of business at a conference, or could be the subject of preliminary discussions. 6. Hanoi's four points could be discussed along with other points which others might wish to propose. 7. The Americans want no bases in South East Asia. 8. They do not desire to retain their troops in South Vietnam after peace is assured. 9. They support free elections in South Vietnam to give the South Vietnamese a government of their own choice. 10. The question of reunification of Vietnam should be determined by the Vietnamese through their own free decision. 11. The countries of South East Asia can be non-aligned or neutral if that is their option. 12. The Americans have said that they would much prefer to use their resources for the economic reconstruction of South East Asia than in war. If there was peace, North Vietnam could participate in a regional effort to which America would be prepared to contribute at least one billion dollars. 13. President Johnson has said: " The Vietcong would not have difficulty in being represented and having their views represented if for a moment Hanoi decided she wanted to cease aggression. I do not think that would be an insurmountable problem". 14. The Americans have said publicly and privately that they would stop the bombing of North Vietnam as a step towards peace, although there had not been up till that time the slightest hint or suggestion from the other side as to what it would do if the bombing stopped.

Those 14 points are on public record and they have been made known to the other side directly and indirectly, but both Hanoi and Peking have rejected the proposals for unconditional discussions. They have insisted that before any discussions can take place, our side must agree in advance to Hanoi's four points. What are these four points? The first point calls for recognition of the fundamental rights of the Vietnamese people, sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. It calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces and the dismantling of military bases. This point is accepted under the 14 American points I have mentioned.

The second point relates to the military clauses of the Geneva Agreements, and these have been agreed to. The fourth point provides that the issue of peaceful reunification should be settled by the Vietnamese people without foreign interference. This is clearly understood and accepted by the United States and by Australia.

It is the third point that is the crux of the Communist position. This point provides that the internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves in accordance with the programme of the National Liberation Front. The consequence of our acceptance of this point would be retreat and a handing over to the existing Communist organisation in South Vietnam; that is the National Liberation Front to which I have referred. The North Vietnamese are really saying that the internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled in the way that the Communists want them to be settled - and that is that. What are we to say of the people who are continually uttering pleas for negotiation to end the war in Vietnam? What are we to say of the demonstrators who carry placards calling on the United States - never calling on the Communists, mark you - to negotiate a settlement? These demonstrators could one day lose their freedom to demonstrate if we followed the policies that they advocate. What are we to say to the academics, the clergymen, the members of the Opposition in this Parliament and others who publish advertisements in newspapers calling on, not the aggressors - the Communists - to negotiate, but demanding that we, Australia, the United States and New Zealand negotiate a settlement in Vietnam?

I think that what we should first do is to ask them: With whom do we negotiate? How do we negotiate with people who do not want to talk? How do we, who would rather talk than fight, negotiate with people who have made it abundantly clear that they would rather fight than talk? How do we negotiate with people who time after time reject outright our approaches aimed at peaceful negotiation? How do we, who have said that we would welcome negotiations without preconditions and would welcome unconditional discussions, negotiate with people who on their own initiative have done nothing to achieve peace talks and who, indeed, deny that they have ever put out any peace feelers?

This, then, is the political situation behind the war in Vietnam. The only alternatives are to retreat, to surrender to the Communists, or to be resolute and give our friends - the people of South Vietnam - and our allies the military support that is necessary to bring this war to an end.







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