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Thursday, 31 March 1966

Mr HAWORTH (Isaacs) .- Mr. Deputy Speaker,I can well understand the concern of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) regarding the reference by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) to the change in the policy of the Australian Labour Party relating to the deletion of support for Australian treaties and alliances. I am sure that the honorable member, and indeed many other members of the Labour Party, had no idea that such a radical change had taken place in the foreign policy of the Australian Labour Party until it was exposed a few days ago. However, 1 will speak about that matter later. In the meantime, I wish to make a few other observations.

The Prime Minister and my other colleagues have stated repeatedly during the debate that the future security of Australia is closely allied to that of countries in South East Asia. I should like to say something about international conduct in relation to treaties and alliances because that too can affect Australia's security, particularly if it is our own Australian conduct which is in question. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said in his speech -

The danger to Australia's security is twofold. There is the danger of global war. If it occurs this will probably turn into a nuclear war . . .

The second danger, he said, was from the active and belligerent fact of Asian Communist imperialism.

Let me refer to the suggested danger of a global war which, if it occurred, could probably turn into a nuclear war. This is the second time in twelve months that the Minister has referred to this possibility in a statement he has made on foreign affairs. This danger, I submit, will continue to exist from one year to another if every country in the free world remains an island, aloof, not interested in unity or in a plan to act with others in the face of common danger. We saw in the years prior to the two world wars the effects of the absence of planned action. The U.K.. was nearly helpless when first the Kaiser and then Hitler struck. Europe was virtually open to them. Admittedly there were some loose alliances in operation but they were very uncertain alliances and the U.S. was almost under the spell of traditional iSO.lationism. Mr. Deputy Speaker, all this is a matter of history, but it seems as though it happened only yesterday. The terrible slaughter of yesterday might have been prevented if Great Britain, the United States, France, Belgium and Holland had been united and ready to act as a united force.

Why does the Minister say in his speech that the danger to Australia today is a danger of global war? I believe he does so because at the present moment there are agencies at work in Europe attacking the unity embodied in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. What these critics want, Sir, is some simple alliance between Europe and the United States. It is difficult not to see this as the type of loose arrangement which plunged Europe and the United States into two catastrophic wars. It is the same type of one sided agreement - if such a type of agreement is possible - of which the Labour Party approves. If we are to play our part in preventing global wars we must make sure by our example to other nations that this country does not drift into isolationism. Some members of the Australian Labour Party by their utterances in this House even tonight apparently desire precisely that to happen. In fact, the Labour Party has gone further by removing from ils printed Party policy the words that it will honour and support Australian treaties. I ask the question: If the Labour Party ever attained office would our powerful friends and allies trust a government which was prepared to play fast and loose with international treaties and to support the isolationism which caused so much trouble prior to the last world war? These are- the things with which the Labour Party is being confronted at the present time and they are things about which it is particularly sensitive. The Minister said that we need allies for the sake of our own security, and that is right. Of course we need allies. We need treaties that are more than just loose alliances. [Quorum formed.] We need treaties that are more than mere loose alliances in which the initial implementation, when put to the test, will be loo slow. And, of course, we must be ready to help our allies as well as being helped by them. Treaties are solemn contracts, imposing a responsibility on all the signatories to act when circumstances demand. We are fortunate that we have treaties with our neighbours in this part of the world based on the highest principles of international conduct. These treaties have been built up with years of patient co-operation and trust. This Government stands by them, as we would expect all other cogovernment signatories to stand by their part of the contract or agreement.

We must be watchful. There are forces at work in this country seeking to erode the bonds between the United States of

America and Australia. Treaties such as S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. are under test. The Opposition would have us repudiate these agreement's by refusing to send forces overseas. I am sure our international friends and allies will remember the quibbling statements that have been made by Opposition members in this House in the last two or three days, particularly by the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The Communists in this country, like the Communists in other parts of the free world, are not concerned with the true interests of Asia or Australia any more than they are with Europe or the United States. Their overriding purpose is to divide the free world and disintegrate the countries that are not Communist controlled.

I come now to the question of Vietnam, because we in Australia, along with our ally, the United States, are deeply concerned in the war in Vietnam. We have troops there, along with troops from the United States and we propose sending more. They are helping to resist Chinese Communist aggression in South East Asia, in the same way as our troops might be compelled to go anywhere else in the Pacific, perhaps to New Guinea, and in the same way as our Navy has been patrolling the waters of Malaysia. We want a peaceful settlement on just terms in South Vietnam. We have a real concern about peace, stability and prosperity in South East Asia. That area can never have this so long as it is ravaged by aggression and war. No one likes the thought of war or of young Australians fighting in Asia.

Mr Bryant - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.

Dr Mackay - I take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The honorable member for Wills asked someone to leave the chamber in order to enable him to take this point.

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