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Thursday, 22 October 1964

Senator MCKELLAR (New South Wales) . - I have pleasure in supporting these Bills and 1 am glad that the Opposition is also supporting the measures. Defence is an issue of great concern to the people of Australia and to our allies, and it has been to the forefront for a long time. Only recently the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) reminded us that we were living in times of great peril. Today we learned that that unhappy country of South Vietnam has again lost the ruler who has been in charge of administration for the past few months. South Vietnam is only 2,300 miles from our shores or approximately the distance between Sydney and Perth and we must realise that if South Vietnam and its neighbours should fall, we could be faced with a serious situation. That is not to mention the threat that could develop in countries even closer to us than South Vietnam.

We in Australia are in a category different from that of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This island continent of ours has South East

Asian people virtually around it and circumstances could arise to make the inhabitants of those nations feel that a war of colour was involved. We must bc very careful to avoid such a situation.

Our first defence bulwark lies in the strength of our allies but we must remember constantly that the first responsibility of our allies is to their own. If their national existence and their people are threatened, their first obligation is to their own people and their own country. Then they can fulfil their other obligations. It is essential, therefore, that our own defences should contain sufficient forces to act as a deterrent at least for a period.

Another important point which comes to mind is that we in Australia occupy a very prosperous country. Although the prospect is remote, we must be sure that our prosperity does not lead to decay as it has done in other prosperous countries throughout history. This must not happen in Australia. There is not much point in building up a wealthy country for ten or twelve years only to lose it because we have neglected our defences. We must take out insurance against such a development and to do that we must make some sacrifices by building up our defence forces and equipping them. We are building up another bulwark of defence by our long range immigration programme. We are engaged in a race to build up our numbers. So far our immigration measures have been satisfactory in that regard, and I believe that they will continue to be successful but this takes time. We must realise that even if we could double our defence forces within a week and equip them adequately, we still could not defend Australia for any length of time. This must be kept in mind when we consider what we should have and what we ought to do in the way of defence.

It is vital that we have this deterrent force because, as I have said, it is useless building up wealth and prosperity if we are to lose the country within a comparatively short time. Therefore, we must accept the fact that in seeking to establish an adequate defence for Australia, our measures must interfere with our development and our national economy. We will be called upon to make some personal sacrifices. That position must be faced. Some suggest that at present we have overfull employment and that if we take more men out of employment it will cause dislocation and difficulties. Of course it will. In view of the importance of the objective for which we are striving, we simply must accept that situation.

Let us look at the public image of our armed forces, starting with the Navy, which is the senior Service. The Navy is fast becoming equipped with modern weapons. In spite of recent unfortunate happenings, there is nothing wrong with our Navy today. So much for the Navy. I am dealing with these points briefly tonight, because we have been told that it is hoped that before we rise we will be told about extra measures that will be adopted in the very near future. I shall pass over the next senior Service at this stage in order to deal with the Royal Australian Air Force. In my book, no airmen are superior to the members of the R.A.A.F. When we get the needed equipment, all that we shall need will be the manpower to operate that equipment. 1 come now to the Army. Like Senator Cormack, I had the experience a fortnight ago of seeing Operation Longshot, which was a combined exercise of the Army, Navy and Air Force, with the Army playing the principal role. I, too, would like to congratulate all the personnel who took part in that exercise, from the commanding general down to the ordinary soldier. It was a very good exercise indeed. It demonstrated what a logistic support force can do. I thought the conditions were made as realistic as possible in the corcumstances. They were so realistic that a mock burial was conducted. Fortunately, those concerned did not bury either Senator Cormack or myself. That shows the detail that was attended to in an effort to exercise every branch of the Services that took part. I was particularly impressed by those who were given the task of commanding some of the units. They were certainly very fine officers. I suppose that was one of the reasons why the personnel under them conducted themselves so well.

We saw the equipment that was used. 1 was most interested in the part that helicopters are playing, and will play, in modern warfare. One commanding officer told me that he believed they would play the role that the three ton truck has played in the past. That might be only a very slight exaggeration. They seem to be vulnerable in certain situations, but we must remember that they can fly at very low levels and that they normally will not be flying over enemy lines. They will fly fairly close to enemy lines, but in view of the fact that they can fly almost at tree top level they are not easy to detect. Of course, when flying where they will be subjected to small arms fire they will be vulnerable.

Senator O'Byrne - Did the honorable senator fly in one?

Senator McKELLAR - No, I did not, but I spoke to some who did. They arc certainly a very good machine to have. I shall not attempt to discuss the Bill in detail. Suffice it to say that I am Very glad indeed to see that provision is being made for the setting up of Emergency Reserves. Over the years I have been able to assess the value of the Australian Instructional Corps, which was of geat assistance to the Citizen Military Forces just prior to World War II. Honorable senators have heard me ask questions about the possibility of reestablishing the nucleus of an Australian Instructional Corps from men who have retired from the Australian Regular' Army on account of age or possibly minor health defects. We should be able to attract to such a corps men who would not be prepared to re-engage with the Australian Regular Army.

I believe that we should re-establish the Citizen Military Forces. A few years ago we gave the C.M.F. a nasty kick in the teeth. No doubt mistakes were at that time. It is of no use to cry over spilt milk, but we can profit from past mistakes. Let me remind those who are not convinced of the value of the C.M.F. that many of our top ranking Army officers in World War II. paid a tribute to the work that had been done by the C.M.F. A very big majority of the field officers and staff officers of some of the A.I.F. Divisions, notably the Sixth Division, came from the C.M.F. Although a mistake was made a few years ago, we should try to encourage men who are not willing to enlist with the Australian Regular Army to join the C.M.F. It should be possible to encourage the C.M.F. to do a little more training than was done in the past. Although some might pooh pooh the idea that even a meagre amount of training would be of value, I believe that it would be of value. There should be training on perhaps two weekends each month with a camp lasting for three weeks, or preferably a month, once a year. In many industries men have three weeks annual leave and in some industries four weeks leave. Industry still seems to get by without any great dislocation. I am sure that a camp of three or four weeks duration would fit into the general scheme of things without disrupting our economy.

Although the enlistment of men from various areas tends to lead to the forming of little cliques, that does not prevent the men from mixing once they get together at parades and camps. Nevertheless, the men are happier if three or four fellows can go from the same area. I have been besieged in the past by country people who bemoaned the fact that the C.M.F. had been split up and that many centres which formerly had C.M.F. units no longer had those units. Of course, there was a reason for that. As I said earlier, I do not think we would make the same mistake again in similar circumstances.

Senator O'Byrne - Would you not dissipate those forces by introducing a national service training scheme?

Senator MCKELLAR - I do not think so. There is room for both. The volunteer is a tower of strength. I am not one of those people who say that you cannot mix conscripts and volunteers. During World War 11 it was proved that you could mix them. They mixed very quickly and Had great esprit de corps within a few weeks of joining.

If we are to get better results than wc have obtained in the past from our recruiting campaigns we will have to do one or two things. I do not think that we can go any further on the road to increasing pay or benefits for our servicemen. Although service conditions contained many shortcomings, they have been rectified. I am supported in this view by the views of men in the Australian Regular Army. They feel that the conditions available for men upon entering the Services are quite reasonable. It is not possible to buy men for the Services. It is necessary for us to take a leaf out of the book of the United States, where a propaganda campaign is continually waged. Great emphasis is placed on the benefits which accrue to the nation through its Armed Services. Servicemen are given encouragement and status. The same results could be obtained here. We have made no efforts in this direction. We place advertisements in a few newspapers from time to time, pointing out the value of a Service career, and so on, but I think something more than that is needed. We should launch a publicity drive, a propaganda campaign - call it what you will - starting with the Prime Minister and working downwards. I think such a move would have some effect in appealing to the patriotism of our people. We have our different political views and our different ideas about religion, but fundamentally, at heart, when the need arises we are united. It is this quality that has made the British great and I trust will always make them great. It lies dormant until times of emergency. Military training is not only of benefit to the nation but is of great value to the individuals who take part in it. Some people would not give twopence for our young folk of today, but they are all right underneath. Training such as I have referred to would do them the world of good.

The Services have had particular difficulty in retaining their technical personnel. Once they are fully trained, many do not re-enlist but are lost because they can command higher wages outside the Services. Some of the technical personnel of our Armed Forces are very highly trained and, of course, command a very high premium for their services. This problem is not peculiar to our defence forces, but it is one of the factors acting against the reenlistment of techncial personnel. I do not know that I can extend any benefit to the Senate by speaking further in this debate, as we wish to pass the Bill through this chamber tonight. I welcome these defence Bills in the knowledge, which I hope I share with all members of the Senate, that they contribute greatly towards the defence of this country.

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