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Thursday, 14 May 1970


Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - The honourable member would not understand because he has not bothered to ascertain what is happening.


Mr Cohen - I know more about it than the honourable member for Chisholm.


Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - The honourable member is not quite sure whether he is Cohen or coming. He may say that it is rot, but he has not bothered to examine Australia's security. I do not want to introduce racism into the debate.


Mr Cohen - The honourable member has just done so.


Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - Well, why does the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) accuse the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) and me of being racist because wc go to see what is happening in South Africa, but say nothing about he honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and a Labor Party senator visiting South

Africa as guests of the Speaker of the South African Parliament? The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) should not be so silly. We are talking now about Australia's future security and filling the vacuum in the Indian Ocean. So the matter of Cockburn Sound becomes a very great importance. In 1967-68 after the closing of the Suez Canal, 12,367 foreign ships sailed via the Cape route. Many others did not bother to call at South African ports. Britain led with almost 3,000, followed by the Netherlands with 1,173. Japan and America with slightly more than 700, Liberia and Norway with a little more than 600, then followed Germany, Greece, France and Sweden. Following Britain's abrogation of the Simonstown agreement it is interesting to note what warships have been using the Cape route. When I was in Simonstown I saw a British frigate flying the White Ensign in for repairs and revictualling, yet Britain . has abrogated the agreement and refused to honour it, apparently because she thinks ships can sail over the Kalahari Desert. Since the closing of the Suez Canal in July 1967 a total of 121 British warships and 40 British fleet auxiliaries have made use of the Simonstown naval harbour. In the same period 47 British warships and 84 British fleet auxiliaries made use of other South African ports. In addition, 27 warships and 15 fleet auxiliaries of other nations made use of ports in that period.

This is why I submit that Cockburn Sound becomes of vital importance with regard to the Indian Ocean and the southern seas, and therefore with regard to the security of Australia in the link-up with Simonstown in South Africa. For those who have not studied the subject might I recommend that they obtain from the Library a document entitled The Changing Strategic Naval Balance USSR v. USA', prepared at the request of the United States House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and incorporated in the Congressional Record of December 1968. In that document will be found many references of vital importance to Australia. The first appears on page 22 and reads:

Reference already has been made to the need for American sca power in the Indian Ocean. Indeed, throughout the southern hemisphere there is developing a need for mobile sea and air forces with a role of protecting friends and allies of the

United States. The expanding commitments for the 1970s cannot be met with naval forces created for commitments in 1940 and the 1950s.

I understand that the Minister for the Navy has seen this document and has referred to it on two or three public occasions. If anybody wants to understand the position I can recommend this as a short but most interesting document. It is prepared by former Commanders-in-Chief in the Pacific, such as Admiral Fleet and many other Service Chiefs. The authorities who prepared the document are listed. At page 33 the document reads:

The Indian Ocean presents a broad spectrum of opportunities for the use of naval power to achieve political goals. Bordering the Indian Ocean are a number of nations that are potential targets of Soviet aggression. The aggressor state has the advantage in that many of the countries around the rim of the Indian Ocean are in ferment. The East African countries, for example, arc vulnerable to Soviet military pressure and subversion.

If the USSR deploys a strike naval squadron in the Indian Ocean, including helicopter carriers and naval infantry, the options available to the Soviets will multiply unless there is a powerful free world countering force.

That is why the proposed base at Cockburn Sound is vital for the maintenance of a free world countering force should it become necessary.

I regard the second half the motion as being not particularly important but I feel it would be of great advantage in exercising some police authority on this southern route if Britain would base one or two of its aircraft carriers on Cockburn Sound for three or four years. That would allow us some time to procure for the Royal Australian Navy the modern, fast, helicopter carrying and vertical take off and landing aircraft carriers which are not as vulnerable as the bigger ships but are just as effective for countering submarines. When we consider the rate at which Russia has been building up its submarine force, and the number of up to date ships in the navy of the USSR as compared with out of date ships in the navy of the USA, the potential is there. We hope that the potential never will be used but in this world there are human passions, human hates and human fears. We have seen plenty of violence and visciousness over the last 3 years both inside and outside our own country. Unless there is a counter force 1 feel that we are going to be in grave danger.

Therefore my hope in moving this motion has been that this matter will be discussed freely from the point of view of the importance of west coast defence. Having a naval base there, not only for our own use but for the use of our allies, will help to fill the vacuum that will be created in the Indian Ocean. As I said before, everyone who has the peace and progress of the world at heart yearns for peaceful coexistence or peaceful co-operation. But at present all the signs and portents in the international sky are that this slogan is being used as a cloak to cover strategic moves for world conquest. We live in a human world in which force and fraud prosper if they are not contained. In 1942, Australia, under a Labor Prime Minister and a Labor Government, appealed loudly to the United States for help against an aggressor. I think we all agreed with that appeal. But today the Australian Labor Party denies to South Vietnam that same right of appeal. As I said, I have been in a so-called fortress and I do not want to be in another. Therefore Australia must play her part in the world today and share the burden of defence in the Indian Ocean. The Cockburn Sound base is vital not only for Australia but for the western world.







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