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Thursday, 7 May 1970

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) - The House has before it 4 Supply Bills. I refer particularly to the proposed appropriation for the Department of External Affairs. This debate gives us an opportunity to discuss matters of public importance. Undoubtedly at the present moment the matter of greatest public importance in our external relations is the position in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The situation there can be vitally affected by the so-called Vietnam Moratorium. The Moratorium aims to disrupt business and the life of the nation so that it will force the withdrawal of all allied troops from Vietnam. I stress the words 'allied troops', because apparently the aim of the Vietnam Moratorium is not to withdraw the troops from North Vietnam and the Vietcong who are the aggressors in South Vietnam. Its aim is to withdraw Australian, American, Thai and Korean troops who are the so-called allied troops. The Moratorium is really an attempt to coerce a democratically elected government by strikes by street violence and by so-called happenings. I ask: What would happen if the Moratorium were successful and it led to the immediate withdrawal of all allied troops from South Vietnam? There is no doubt whatsoever that the South Vietnamese have built up their strength enormously to resist the attacks being made on them. We are told that their forces are now very close to 1 million and that they aim to increase to about 1,100,000 the forces permanently under arms. For a nation of its size that is an enormous contribution. But, if all allied troops were immediately withdrawn, would they be strong enough to resist the attacks not only from North Vietnam but assisted by the Chinese and the Russians? One doubts that they would be able to do so. If they were not, what would happen? As I have already said in other places, one would see a blood bath in South Vietnam if the North Vietnamese were to overrun them. One has only to look at what happened in the ancient city of Hue which, for a fortnight during the Tet offensive, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese occupied. Immediately in went the political cadres. They had their photographs and dossiers. Although they spent only a fortnight in that town, when the allied troops reoccupied that city they found at least 3,000 people who had been slaughtered by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. If this could happen in a fortnight in 1 city it shows what would happen throughout the whole of South Vietnam if the Moratorium were successful and all allied troops were immediately withdrawn, and also if , as a result of that, the South Vietnamese were unable to withstand the pressures placed upon them.

I draw the attention of the House again to a very short quotation which I read here not so long ago. It is a quotation from a book written by a very great expert on insurgencies, Sir Robert Thompson. He visited this country. He was an expert on Malaysia where he assisted in the emergency which lasted for some 16 years. He has been in Vietnam as the expert advising President Nixon. This is what he had to say about the consequences of a defeat in Vietnam in a book that he wrote recently entitled 'No Exit from Vietnam': . . the consequences of such a defeat need to be carefully weighed, tn South Vietnam itself a people would go under. Judging from past experience in China and North Vietnam perhaps several hundred thousands, who have supported the war and fought valiantly and who would certainly oppose the conquerors' subsequent collectivisation programme, might be slaughtered. This will not be shown on television and so may not worry subverted liberals and fellow travellers, but others may have it on their conscience. There is after all no Formosa to which the victims can escape nor has any area been set aside for them in the Californian desert. In a year or two they will be conveniently forgotten and the consequent stagnation of the economy is advanced as a specious argument for international aid.

That is the position. There would be the grave possibility - almost probability - of South Vietnam being overrun. This would be only the beginning of the application of what has been known as the domino theory. There are people who disagree with the domino theory, but I do not believe that the people up in Asia, certainly those in control of a number of small states, disagree with it.

Basically, the domino theory is that there are in the South East Asian area a number of small states, none of which individually would be able to stand up against the might of North Vietnam assisted by the Chinese and the Russians. Therefore, if the strongest of these nations - which is South Vietnam - were to topple, the possibility of any of the others withstanding the pressure that would then be brought upon them would be even less. One could picture Laos, already fully occupied by the North Vietnamese, Cambodia and Thailand engulfed. Would it stop there? Would it go on to Malaysia and Burma? There is no doubt that the domino theory would have a .great chance of coming into operation if the Moratorium were effective and if, as the result of it, South Vietnam happened to be overrun.

Let us face the situation. There are only 2 alternatives in Vietnam: Either South Vietnam will be overrun or it will not. It is of no good for people to say that we should not have become involved. I disagree entirely with that. Are we just to back down wherever there is aggression in the world? I know that there are people who are peace loving and who believe that there should be no war. But what happens if any time there is Communist aggression we just back away from it? History in the past has shown - and history has a habit of repeating itself - that you cannot con:tinually back away from aggression. Sooner or later you have to face up to it. There is no need for me to remind the House of what happened in Europe before the Second World War and how the appeasers backed away when the German troops reoccupied the Rhineland. Nor do I need to remind the House about the appeasement in other areas such as Austria and Sudeten Czechoslovakia. I believe that we should have become involved in Vietnam; but the point is that we are involved. As I said, I know that there are some people who genuinely oppose the war. But aggression should not succeed and should not be seen to succeed anywhere. The moment that it does, the strength of the smaller nations is lessened and the chance of further aggression succeeding is even greater.

The Moratorium is gathering pace - or the organisers hope it is, although it does not seem to be. I was interested to note that we had a little demonstration here yesterday, and I read in the Press today that there were about 5 times as many people there as I thought were there when I looked out the window. No doubt this was a little bit of journalistic licence. The Vietcong have realised that the war will not be won by them and will not be lost by the allies in Vietnam. It will be won or lost in America or Australia by lack of resolution. That is the whole reason behind the Moratorium. The organisers realise that the place to win this battle is in Canberra, Washington and the various other capital cities of the world. I have before me a copy of a document that was captured on 1st June 1969 by a unit of the 9th United States Cavalry Division. It is dated 12th April 1969. It is clear from this document and from other documents that have been captured that the Communists expect complete victory only by way of a number of steps. They recognise that they cannot win militarily but they believe that a process has been set in train, beginning with the cessation of the bombing of the North and including the decision to negotiate in Paris with the National Liberation Front, which though tortuous will end in complete victory. If anyone ever doubted the role played by the protest movement in sustaining the morale of the Communists he could hardly do so any more after carefully reading this document.

There is no suggestion any more, as there was before the Tet offensive in 1968, that the people will rise up in sympathy with the Communists if offered the opportunity; of course they were offered this opportunity during the Tet offensive. The purpose being expounded is clearly this: Inflict as many casualties as possible; spread the killing of selective civilians as widely as possible; destroy as much as can be destroyed of the government's local administration, but above all hasten the process by serious negotiations. That is, by withdrawal of United States troops and the acceptance of a coalition government may be expected to arise out of American political weakness, the nature of which is accurately described and the intensity of which is in direct proportion to the strength of this protest movement. So we can expect a full reporting in Hanoi of this week's events. I believe that probably already the photograph of the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) addressing this meeting is on its way there.

Mr Pettitt - And of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr FAIRBAIRN - And of the Leader of the Opposition. Thus, as I see it, the Moratorium is wrong for many reasons. Firstly it is wrong because it seeks to encourage Communist control of South East Asia by assisting our enemies. Secondly, it is wrong because it condones attacks on Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. We are told that already there are 60,000 North Vietnamese permanently in Laos and some 40,000 in Cambodia, many of whom are marching on Phnom Penh, but there is no word of course in the Moratorium about withdrawing these troops. Since 1965 about 5,000 tons of supplies a month for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese have been going through Cambodia, through the Port of Sihanoukville. Thirdly, the Moratorium is wrong because it fails to call on the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese to withdraw. The neutrality of Cambodia should be strictly enforced and it should be properly supervised and effectively guaranteed. Fourthly, the Moratorium is wrong because it fails to condemn the assassinations, the kidnappings, the torture and the ravages of the Vietcong. I saw a figure recently which indicated that some 135,000 people had been assassinated, injured or tortured by the Vietcong. Probably the figure is very much higher than that.

Fifthly, the Moratorium is wrong because it fails to call on the North Vietnamese to pursue the Paris peace talks. The Paris peace talks have been a complete farce. We know that they were engineered by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese for only one purpose. That purpose was the stopping of the bombing of North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese were being grievously hurt by the bombing. They had no answer to it and it was preventing their production and preventing their supplies from going south. The only way in which they could stop this was to make a farce of showing that they were prepared to negotiate. They said that it was the only thing preventing them from going to the negotiating table and, like suckers, we fell for it. There are so many genuine pacifists on our side - the side of the free world - who are carried away with humanitarian principles. No doubt many of these people are well intentioned but unfortunately they are also ill informed. Sixthly, we say that the Moratorium is wrong because it mentions the so-called corruption and tyranny in South Vietnam but there is no mention of what is happening in North Vietnam. My understanding is that tyranny is more likely to occur where there are no elections and we know there are no elections in North Vietnam, but there are elections in South Vietnam in spite of every attempt made by the Vietcong to sabotage these elections.

The Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) only recently returned from a trip there and he said he was interested and very pleased indeed to meet so many of the heads of various village councils who had been elected. Certainly there are still some who have not been elected but have been nominated by the President. Nevertheless, a great many elections are held despite the attempts of the Vietcong to prevent them. Of course, the rule of law is being established in South Vietnam. In North Vietnam if a person were gaoled for 10 years would you expect him to be able to appeal to the courts and get that sentence quashed? Of course, you would not. He would be lucky if he got away with 10 years. Only recently a person in South Vietnam to whom this had happened appealed to the courts and had his sentence quashed.

The Moratorium is wrong because it seeks to use violence to undermine police authority, lt is all very well for people to say: 'We do not want to use violence at all. We are going to sit down in the middle of the busiest street in the centre of Melbourne and only if these wretched police come along and start trying to move us will there be violence, but we do not want it at all.' That is a ludicrous thing to say. [Quorum formed.]

I thank the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) for calling for a quorum and ensuring that more people will hear my speech, lt is unfortunate that so very few Opposition members are present to hear it. In fact, I think there were about 7 in the House all told. I was saying that the Moratorium was wrong and 1 was giving the reasons why I thought it was wrong. The honourable member for Chifley did not like it when f mentioned that this is a Moratorium which seeks to use violence to undermine police authority. People say that this Moratorium will be non-violent but how can it possibly be non-violent when arrangements are made to sit down in the middle of the busiest, streets of Melbourne and Sydney and make perfectly certain that there will be violence? We all know that a demonstration like this fails unless there is violence in which case photographs are available to be sent to Hanoi to show the way in which this dreadful Government is oppressing the people of Australia and how the people of Australia are just about to withdraw their forces as a result of these demonstrations.

Finally, the Moratorium is wrong because it tries to gain a minority control which could not bc won at the ballot box. lt is only a very short time since we went to the ballot box. We were elected as the Government for a 3-year period. Even in a gallup poll which was held recently only a relatively small percentage of people said that they believed the troops should be immediately withdrawn from Vietnam. The great majority said no, they believed the troops should be phased out as and when Vietnamisation was succeeding. Who is behind this movement, the so-called Vietnam Moratorium? There is no doubt that there are genuine pacifists with humanitarian principles, well intentioned but many of them ill-informed. There are of course, a great many Labor members of Parliament - all, I. believe, except 13 - who have signed this Moratorium. There are left wing unions. The interesting thing is that these left wing unions, which get their funds from their members and which are meant to be used for industrial purposes, are being used for political purposes. One only has to look at one of the advertisements placed in a paper today. This was a full page advertisement and everyone knows the enormous cost of such an advertisement. But, of course, money is no object when one is able to levy this money from people who believe thai it is being levied for industrial purposes.

Then there is the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament. This is an organisation which even the New South Wales Labor Party said was a Communist front association. The British Labour Party also has said that it is a Communist front organisation. The organisation is one of those peace movement shows and everyone knows from where it is controlled. Lastly there are the card carrying Communists. We have seen a number of names associated with this, all of whom are full and recognised members of the Communist Party. Many are office holders of the Communist Party and are associating with members of the Labor Party. Let me name a few. My colleague the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) has recently distributed a pamphlet in which he lists a number of these people.

The people he lists from New South Wales are: Mavis Robertson of the Communist Party of Australia National Committee: Brian Aarons, who is the son of the CPA National Secretary - and the advertisement that appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' carried the name L. Aarons, who I presume is Laurie Aarons, the National Secretary- and Catherine Macdonald from the teachers body. In Victoria there are such well known names as Laurie Carmichael of the CPA National Executive, John Sendy of the CPA National Committee and Bernard Taft of the CPA National Committee. In Queensland - and my honourable friend from Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) mentioned this person last night - there is Hugh Hamilton, who is President of the State Committee of the CPA. There are also John Sherrington and James Henderson. In South Australia there is Peter Symon of the State Committee of the CPA.

Mr Irwin - It sounds like a unity ticket.

Mr FAIRBAIRN - It is a unity ticket between the Labor Party and the Communist Party. Finally, in Tasmania there is Max Bound who is the State Secretary of the CPA. These are the people who are associated in running this spurious campaign. What a group.

What has happened to the once great Labor Party? A few years ago - I have been in this House I am afraid to say for as long as any Liberal on this side of the chamber - the Labor Party would not be associated with a Communist. The Labor Party would not be associated even with a Communist front organisation. Today it has swung away from that completely. What a shocking sight it was yesterday to see a Vietcong flag waving outside the front of this House and the Leader of the Opposition under that flag addressing the people who were demonstrating against our troops who are fighting in Vietnam. This is an appalling situation. I am told by the honourable member for Lilley also that the Leader of the Opposition has had some rather dubious associations with campaign organisers in his State and that this has never been denied. Every time anything can be done to support the Communists who represent the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese someone in the Labor Party is there to do it for them.

Look at the recent entry into this country of that traitor Burchett, a man who it is admitted was present during the questioning and torture of two American airmen who finally broke under this torture and signed some spurious document on germ warfare. Yet this man received assistance from the Labor Party, not only to get into this country but to do anything that he wanted while he was here. Even platforms were found for him by the Labor Party. The Labor Party backed the refusal to load tanks on the 'Jeparit'. It called on the troops to mutiny. Why, we even have another place graced by the President of the Labor Party in Victoria who was present when the resolution was passed calling on the troops to mutiny. It seems to me that the Labor Party wants instant peace by surrender. Our Party - and I can say this on behalf of a committee we set up recently - is determined that we should continue to give every possible assistance to the South Vietnamese and to the Americans to see that South Vietnam is not overrun. We have produced a statement which has been signed by every member of the Government parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives, apart from those who are away and, Mr Speaker, of course. Let me read to the House what the statement says:

The Vietnam Moratorium campaign is an assault upon democratic processes, based on fraud and designed to promote widespread disruption and dislocation. It is not calculated to achieve anything except a weakening of the resolution of the Australian Government and the Australian people to secure a just peace in South Vietnam.

We, as the members of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal and Country Parties, urge the Australian people to recognise:

(i)   that the Australian Government desires a just peace in Vietnam, based upon the ability of the South Vietnamese people to determine for themselves, secure from aggression, the future development and government of their territory;

(ii)   that, consistent with this overall objective, the Australian Government has indicated it will withdraw Australian troops as the success of the South Vietnamese Government and its allies in containing the North Vietnamese aggresstion and as the rate of withdrawal of US troops permits.

Accordingly, we urge all Australians to consider the implications of the Moratorium. We recognise the right of dissent and protest within the law - which we ourselves would assert if ever we were in Opposition. But we note that the Moratorium campaign is more, than an expression of legitimate dissent and1 protest. It is intended to be a massive strike for political purposes, designed to inconvenience thousands of citizens and to subject community life to dislocation. It is a wholly unjustifiable claim of right which amounts to an unjustifiable denial of the rights of others.

The Government will not be influenced to alter its policy by mass pressures of this character, nor should it be.

We call upon aH Australians to recognise the tactics of the Moratorium as dangerous and unwanted. Australia is a country where there is unlimited scope for legitimate and lawful freedom of dissent and' protest and the Moratorium tactics are ro be forthrightly condemned.

I seek leave to table the document.

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