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Wednesday, 16 March 1977


Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - Yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) brought down his statement on the Government's foreign affairs policy. I do not wish to go over the statement in detail, but I would like to make some observations about foreign policy and happenings in the rest of the world, as I see them. I think it is appropriate, when speaking on foreign affairs for the first time this year, to take this opportunity to congratulate the United States on electing President Carter. The reason for this, as I pointed out before the election last year, is that it is important for us to have a United States government and a United States Congress in accord on foreign policy aims, broadly speaking. I do not think it is as important for us to agree with the United States on every relatively minor point of foreign policy as it is to feel reasonably confident that the United States is led by a President and an administration which are likely to get support for their policies, whatever they might be, through the 2 Houses of Congress. For a number of years now this has not been the case in the United States. We had a Republican President in the White House with an executive appointed by that Republican President. We had a situation in which the 2 Houses of Congress were quite strongly controlled by the Democratic Party. I think that this split has been bad for the so-called free world. Nobody was confident or sure just how much United States policy meant.

Looking at overall events that have taken place in the world I put the proposition that to a large extent what happens is influenced by the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China are in conflict. I realise that this view is not necessarily shared by everybody on this side of the House and judging by some of the speeches made by members on the other side of the House and by the usual newspaper editorials, hardly anybody seems to admit this. If China and the Soviet Union had a common policy, as they did up till about 1958, 1 think that it would be extremely difficult for the United States and for countries associated with the United Statesthe democratic countries of the world- to stand up to pressure from the 2 communist super powers.

Australia was lucky, the world was lucky and those of us who believe in individual freedom were lucky that a split occurred between China and Russia after 1958. There is no point in going through the history of this matter. But it is important that that split occurred. First, I think it is important for us that there should be no war between the 2 countries. Secondly, it is important that a state of tension should exist between them. It is important for us that there is competition between China and the U.S.S.R. in the so-called Third World. It is important for us that these 2 countries undermine one another in some of the

Third World countries. It is important that they compete with one another, that they do not trust one another, and that they have large numbers of troops on one another's borders. I think that all of these points are important from our point of view. I sometimes think that it is ridiculous that people who speak about, discuss and write about our foreign policy do not acknowledge this fact. I think it is the most important factor in foreign affairs at the present time.

To my mind there seems to be more than ever before an attempt by the present Government to imply that we are identified or associated with the Chinese vis-a-vis the Russians. I do not want to take sides. I think that Russia and China are both totalitarian countries completely opposed to what we stand for. The only basis on which I would think it would be reasonable to support China vis-a-vis the Soviet Union is that the Chinese appear to be weaker. It is important from our point of view that these 2 countries should be kept from confronting one another and that the point should not be reached where, as the Chinese would put it, there would be absolute hegemony on the part of the U.S.S.R. vi'savis China. From that point of view I suppose it is reasonable to support the Chinese against the Russians.

I am depressed when I sometimes see people who are opposed to the Russians go overboard and pretend that the Chinese Government is a much better type of government than the Russian Government, that the Chinese society is a much better type of society than the Russian. It is not. It is a completely totalitarian regime. I suppose that if there is any difference from a civil liberties or civil rights point of view that difference would be in favour of the Russian regime which for a number of reasons, one being the effluxion of time, has now reached the stage where at least it allows or is unable to prevent dissent from within and allows dissenters some publicity at least outside the country. None of this happens in China.

I refer now to an article that recently was reprinted in the Bulletin. The article was written by Edward N. Luttwak Associate Director of the Washington Centre of Foreign Policy Research at Johns Hopkins University. The article appeared in the Bulletin of 19 February 1977 and it made a number of reasonable points. The author is one of the few critics to visit China who has reported some criticisms when leaving that country. He makes an important point on the last page of his article. After making the point that China is a weak country militarily compared with the Soviet Union he went on to state:

Nor is there anything to suggest that China will become a superpower in 10, 20, or even 30 years. Hence the right-wing Sinophilia of those who abhor the Chinese system but who see virtue in Chinese power as a counterweight to the Russian, is as flawed as the left-wing Sinophilia of those who see virtue in a society which combines a maximum of unfreedom with a minimum of efficiency.

To me this is a reasonable statement and yet it is only partly true because it is important to support the weaker of the 2 powers at any particular time.

At this stage I would like to move away from the conflict between China and Russia and deal with the Indonesian situation and some of the problems that arise. We have all been upset by what happened in East Timor. I do not think there is any need for me to repeat the arguments in this respect. There does not seem to be much support in Australia for the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. It is not worth while repeating the argument against the occupation because, after all, no one would argue in favour of it. One of the points I would like to make in connection with Indonesia is this: There seems to be the feeling among people whose general attitudes in Australian politics I strongly support that the alternative to the present type of government in Indonesia is in the broadest sense a left type of government, whether we consider it hopefully from our point of view a social democratic type of government, a socialist government or even a government controlled by the Communist Party of Indonesia. I do not see such a government as an alternative to the present Government in Indonesia. The alternative as I see it in Indonesia at present is quite extreme, what I would call right wing and what I think most people would accept as being a right wing government, controlled by fanatical Muslims in the religious sense. They are the real alternative at the present time in Indonesia. They are the dangerous alternative in Indonesia. There is evidence that the Libyan Government is subsidising them. We all know that that has happened in the Philippines where the Muslim groups have been subsidised by the Libyan Government. At present peace talks are being conducted between the Marcos regime and the Muslim revolutionaries. The talks are being held in Libya which seems to be a rather ridiculous arrangement. It is an acceptance of the fact that somehow Libya has a right to intervene in the Philippines. The same sort of thing allegedly is happening, or potentially could happen, in Indonesia, in West Java where the Muslim tradition is much stronger than in the rest of the country.

The present right wing military Government in Indonesia is one which obviously does not hold the democratic attitudes that we would expect in any Australian government. But the alternative government in Indonesia is not a left wing government but an extremely right wing fanatical religious dictatorship. I am sure that that would not be in the interests of Australia any more than the previous Sukarno regime was in the interests of Australia, but really a return to Sukarno is not one of the likely possibilities for Indonesia.

I conclude by going back to the Chinese position. I do not have the question and answer with me in the House at present, but some time ago I put on the notice paper a question dealing with a supplement produced by the Melbourne Age on the exhibition of Chinese art that is touring Australia at present. I referred to the fact that the first page of that supplement had been written allegedly by Dr Chey the Cultural Counsellor in the Australian Embassy in Peking. I did not refer to the rest of the supplement; I referred only to the introductory page attributed to Dr Chey. It read like a handout from the Chinese Government. It had very little to do with art. It was just a political handout. I drew attention to this in the question. In reply the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Dr Chey is a very nice person and that the rest of the supplement was copied from what had been written in an English newspaper about the exhibition. That had nothing to do with the question I asked. I asked a question about the introduction written by Dr Chey. I did not ask whether she is a nice person. I did not complain about what appeared on pages 2, 3 and 4 of that supplement. I referred to page 1 of the supplement. I would appreciate it if the Minister would at least look at the question.

When I originally submitted the question to the Table Office it contained criticisms of the Minister. Those criticisms were withdrawn by the Table Office without its even consulting me. I have some reservations about that. That is the sort of thing I would expect to happen in China but not in Australia. In any case the position remains that when I finally received an answer to the question it was not a proper answer. I am pleased that I have been able to participate in this debate on foreign affairs, and I hope that members of this House will be given further opportunities to talk on foreign affairs.







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