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Wednesday, 28 October 1964


Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- - I was interested in the references by Senator Ormonde and Senator Cavanagh to the vote we are asked to approve in respect of advertising for recruits to the Services. I have looked with an all too jaundiced eye upon the types of advertisement that are intended to appeal to young Australians of spirit who are asked to recruit for the defence of the country. It seems to me that the advertising is designed for nothing other than the filling of shovels of routine advertising expenditure of the most dispiriting kind. I listened to the Minister say that it is supervised by a committee of experts. I ask: What kind of experts and with whom do they consult? I derive inspiration from the fact that the Minister obviously has shown that he too has experienced disquiet in regard to this vote. He must accept the advice of experts in this field. When I look at the type of advertisements which fill the columns of metropolitan daily newspapers I shudder to think that we are to persevere with expenditure on such an activity. I make that comment by way of preliminary observation, to express my disquiet and also to express appreciation of the obvious concern that the Minister has shown with regard to the utility of the vote.

I rose chiefly to direct the Minister's attention to Division No. 652 which refers to defence aid for Malaysia. Last year the expenditure was £71,953. This year the appropriation is £2,067,000. The unique increase in the vote brings the matter of defence aid for Malaysia within the focus of this Committee. After long and wearying years of disagreement concerning the internal policies of political parties in Australia, stemming back to 1954, in this year of 1964 we can recall that the Menzies Government has maintained a forthright attitude towards South East Asia, on the premise that the Malayan peninsula is the Australian front line of defence. It is I think, a matter of some satisfaction so far as the moulding of defence policy is concerned, that both major political parties in Australia are now tending to coalesce in the idea that we must with unity maintain a defence force in the area of Malaysia as our first line of defence.

In Britain, the Conservative Government, which was hounded by the public expressions of Sukarno to the effect that it was endeavouring to maintain what was described as a colonial cloud over the Malayan peninsula, has been displaced by the Wilson Socialist Government. It is proper that we in the Australian Senate should note that, so far as we have been able to understand the cables and public announcements, there is in Great Britain a forthright unity which is typical of the British spirit when defence matters are concerned. That spirit stems perhaps from the insular position of the British nation. The Wilson Socialist Government has announced unequivocal support of Malaysia, a freely constituted federation of colonies recently relinquished from British rule. The unity of expression of these countries has been endorsed, after an inquiry, by the United Nations.

I hope that the Minister for Defence, who is in charge of the estimates we are discussing, will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand from announcements that have been made that the Wilson Government has expressed unequivocal support for Malysia, as did its predecessor.







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