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Tuesday, 29 March 1966

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - by leave - I wish to refer to utterances reported to have been made last evening by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) at his well attended meeting in Kew. The Brisbane " Courier-Mail ", like most Australian newspapers, did the Prime Minister the honour of reporting his remarks. Among other things, the following statement appears in the " Courier Mail "-

Mr. Holtangered Labour supporters when he referred to the A.L.P. defence platform which, he said, had stated that Labour would honour and support Australia's obligations under the S.E.A.T.O. and Anzus Treaties.

Amid loud booing he said: "That is a very important section of .the Labour defence platform. " The significant thing is that the section appears in the Labour Party platform of 1963-64."

Then he shouted above the din: "but it has been dropped . . . dropped . . . from the platform of the Labour Party in 196S.

This Australian Labour Party under its present leadership has no intention of honouring Australia's treaties and alliances."

Mr. Holtsaid this provision was deliberately dropped from the platform.

He suggested to Mr. Calwell and Mr. Whitlam that they should occupy the remainder of the by-election campaign by explaining to the Australian people why (he Labour Party had taken this action.

The Prime Minister's statements are completely wrong, and if the report is correct and that is what he did say last night, his statement was the result of either his own ignorance or of bad staff work on the part of the Liberal Party people who searched our platform. The one thing that is true in the Prime Minister's statement is that these words were dropped from the defence platform. However, they reappear immediately afterwards in much the same form, but elaborated upon, in our foreign affairs platform. Honorable members opposite can shriek like a flock of galahs in a paddock, but they will listen to the truth. The alteration was made at the 1965 Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party. This was about the only truthful thing in the Prime Minister's statement. Our platform appears in a book that can be purchased for ls. 6d. The Australian Labour Party is the only party that publishes its platform and makes it available.

Mr Harold Holt - No, it is not. I will send the Leader a copy of ours with my compliments.

Mr CALWELL - What the Labour Party says is this -

Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise.

This statement of principle is the accepted procedure for all governments. The British Labour Government sent its Minister of Defence, Mr. Healey, to Australia recently to discuss with the Menzies Government the question of changing its treaties or emphasising some aspect of them.

Mr Harold Holt - No, it did not.

Mr CALWELL - My colleagues were present and discussed the matter with Mr. Healey.

Mr Harold Holt - Britain has no treaty-

Mr CALWELL - It has one with Malaysia and we subscribe to it on a postscript or footnote basis. The Australian Labour Party believes that the S.E.A.T.O. treaty of some years ago is out of date. The Americans are bound, under S.E.A.T.O., to come to our assistance only if we are engaged in war with a Communist power, and nobody else. With respect to our defence treaties and alliances the Labour Party's platform is absolutely clear; and I will exchange my copy of a magnificent platform for whatever the

Prime Minister wants to offer me in return. Let everybody in this House listen to what our platform states about defence treaties and alliances -

The development by negotiation of a regional defence system of United Nations member states within the South-East Asia and Indian subcontinental areas for mutual defence, consistent with the requirements of the United Nations Charter, and not inconsistent with the general provisions of Australia's existing defence treaty commitments.

That is clear enough for anybody who can read. Why the Prime Minister should have gone out of his way last night to misrepresent us deliberately is something only he can answer. This is not all we say under this heading. We say, too -

While the Commonwealth of Nations continues to exist Australia must always remain an integral part of it . . . Co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained.

We say further -

The defensive alliance with the United States of America and New Zealand referred to as A.N.Z.U.S. is essential and must continue.

What appalling ignorance it was on the part of the Prime Minister last night to say that we wanted to scrap S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S., particularly A.N.Z.U.S., because A.N.Z.U.S. is the only treaty that has teeth in it. S.E.A.T.O. has no teeth.

Mr Harold Holt - A.N.Z.U.S. has the Americans in it.

Mr CALWELL - Yes, but not the British. The Government kept the British out. Churchill made his protest about Britain not being allowed to come into the treaty. Some years ago I asked Dean Acheson why Britain was not a member of A.N.Z.U.S. and he said: " Because the United States has no intention of underwriting the remnants of British colonialism in South East Asia." The late Dr. Evatt fought to get Britain admitted to A.N.Z.U.S. Honorable members do not like the facts, but I am giving them.

Dr Forbes - The Leader of the Opposition said the Americans were immoral.

Mr CALWELL - I have never said that the Americans were immoral, but I have said that the Minister for Health is stupid. He was born stupid and has been losing ground ever since. Our platform also states -

S.E.A.T.O. is ineffective but Australia should not withdraw from it until adequate arrangements are made in accordance with Conference decision related to new treaties.

In respect of Vietnam, which members opposite claim is covered by S.E.A.T.O., let me say this: We are opposed to the war in Vietnam, but we are not in favour of unilateral withdrawal by anybody. We are not in favour of any interference by boycott or otherwise with supplies needed by the men who are in Vietnam. We have said that often. We are not in favour of interruptions by anybody at political meetings. We did not organise, and had nothing to do with, the rowdyism that took place at the meeting in Kew last night. That rowdyism was due to the upsurge of the pent up feelings of the people against the Government's decision to send voteless conscripted kids into a war in which they do not wish to engage.

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