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Friday, 13 November 1964


Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) .- Before I commence my speech I want to answer an interjection which was made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was speaking. Senator McKenna stated that the TFX bombers would not arrive in Australia complete until 1970. The Leader of the Government asked Senator McKenna on what authority he. had said that. At the time Senator McKenna did not have the information with him. During the suspension of the sitting he furnished me with the information. I preface it by referring to a statement which the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made on 24th October 1963 regarding the Royal Australian Air Force. Amongst other things, he said -

Twenty-two prototype and development aircraft are scheduled for delivery to the United States in 1965 and we are told that we will secure our first deliveries in 1967.

The following article appeared in the "Canberra Times" of 26th June 1964 under the heading "New Bombers Not Ready Before 1969 "-

The R.A.A.F. probably would not have an operational squadron of FI 1 1A supersonic jet bombers before 1969-70, the secretary of the Department of Air, Mr. A. B. Mcfarlane, said today.

He was speaking on his return from a 10-day visit to Washington and the aircraft factories where the American nuclear bomber is being developed.

Mr. McFarlanesaid that the R.A.A.F. would not " phase out " its Canberra jet bombers until 1970.


Senator Paltridge - We have never said anything different.


Senator KENNELLY - The Minister says one thing one time and another thing at another time. He should face up to the position. It was easy for him to say something when the documentary proof was not available. But it is here now. The Minister should not wait until everyone else has spoken and then hit. That is his usual form.


Senator Paltridge - I learned it from the honorable senator.

Senator KENNELLY__The Minister did not because he has not got the guts.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!


Senator KENNELLY - If the Minister wants to be tough, that is all right with me. The article in the " Canberra Times " also stated -

The new Minister for Defence, Senator Paltridge, said lust week that the Government expected to take delivery of the first Fi IIA bombers in 1968.

Mr, McFarlanesaid that another squadron could not become fully operational for at least another 18 months after that.

The article is here, if the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) wants to look al it. All 1 want to say to Senator Wright about his speech is this: I leave his speech to his own conscience. He understands why 1 say that.

This is the seventeenth major defence review in 15 years. It is the fifth in the last two years. In fact, it works out at a major review about every four or five months. Docs the Government take one review off the printing press and put another on? If words were men and guns in the Army, if words were bombers and fighters in the Air Force, if words were aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines in the Navy, our defences would make the defences of the United Slates look small. But we have only words. The Government is pretty good with words, but let us have something more than words. During the 15 years that it has been in office, we have never reached a stage of preparedness that would enable us to defend ourselves, and we are not ready now. Nor will we be ready with the proposals for the Army, Air Force and Navy made in this review until 1970, and this is November 1964. We hear much about a potential enemy. In 1953 we were told that within three years someone would strike at us, and the Prime Minister said that this was a liberal estimate. The implication was that we had plenty of .time. What is the position today? As I said, if this were only a matter of words, we would not be here today debating defence because the nation would have the defence that it wants. One could well be doubtful whether all the proposals in this review will be completed by 1970. The Government proposes to spend £10 million on refitting H.M.A.S. "Melbourne". It is fair to say that this work will take at least a couple of years. I do not think there would be any argument about that estimate. Why does not the Government do as the nation wants it to do and buy an aircraft carrier?


Senator Mattner - Where?


Senator KENNELLY - From the same place as it is buying other vessels. I believe that the people will stand by any government in this country if they are satisfied that the money is being spent wisely for the defence of Australia. 1 admit that politics is a tough game.


Senator Cormack - An Essex class carrier, built during the last war, would be available in the United States of America. They are the only aircraft carriers available.


Senator KENNELLY - I plead ignorance of any knowledge as to the worth of an aircraft carrier. I asked someone whom I thought had some knowledge and he said that the cost would be £50 million.


Senator Mattner - No, £100 million.


Senator KENNELLY - If I had wanted any knowledge of the Army, possibly I would have gone to Senator Mattner. I went to a person whom I thought would have some knowledge of naval matters because of his great interest and work in naval affairs. He said the cost would be £50 million and that it would be £70 million if the aeroplanes were bought with it. The Government proposes to spend £10 million on "Melbourne". We know what it did when it spent £2 million or more on " Hobart ".


Senator Cant - It spent £3 million.


Senator KENNELLY - Yes. Then " Hobart " never went to sea. It was put into mothballs after that.


Senator Hendrickson - Then the Government sold it to the Japanese.


Senator KENNELLY - That is so. It was a pretty sorry experience.


Senator Mattner - This is an aircraft carrier.


Senator KENNELLY - I ask my good friend, Senator Mattner, to let me make my speech in my own way. I will get through it and I will leave him alone when he speaks, unless he says something that is most repugnant to my views. Politics is a tough game, but we should forget politics altogether when we are dealing with certain matters. We must protect this nation and the people in it. That is the only consideration. When I go through the statement of the Prime Minister on defence, I come to a remarkable passage. If this is not inciting one nation to attack another, I want to know what it means. The Prime Minister said -

If Indonesian attacks continue, Malaysia may find it intolerable to confine defensive measures to the guarding of Malaysia's shores and jungles against Indonesian intrusion.

No-one here or anywhere else can condone what Indonesia has done. It is wrong and it should stop. But should a Prime Minister use words that more or less incite one nation to invade another? Whatever the Prime Minister's views may be, I am first and foremost concerned about our troops. Our troops are in this area. What does the Prime Minister's statement mean? Is it meant to incite Malaysia? Have we to go into Indonesia?


Senator Branson - Does this mean that we are not to criticise Indonesia's action?


Senator KENNELLY - I did not say that. I said that no-one in this Parliament or outside it should for one moment condone what Indonesia has done. But that is a different matter from the Prime Minister of one nation inciting a friendly nation to attack another nation. Does the Government contend that that is wise in the interests of our people? The Government plans to conscript our youth for active service in unnamed overseas countries. We have no treaty obligations to some of the countries that may be concerned. The Government's action in this respect has reached such depths, that one can have only loathing and contempt for it. I hope to show that . this whole business of conscription for overseas service is nothing more than a contemptible political stunt.

Now let us have a look at the evidence. A few weeks ago in this chamber we considered a Defence Bill for the reorganisation of the three Services. It introduced an emergency force in each Service. Persons who joined these forces could be sent anywhere at any time! This changed the whole outlook of the citizen forces. Those who were already in the citizen forces were given the right to contract out if they did not want to remain under the new conditions. Those who remained could be sent anywhere if the Governor-General declared the existence of an emergency which warranted Australian troops going to certain places. In this review the Prime Minister has referred to the existence of an emergency but the Governor-General has not, under the Defence Act, declared the existence of an emergency which would permit the Government to send volunteers wherever it wanted to send them, irrespective of whether it was to a country that had a treaty with us or a country that had not. If the emergency is so great, why does the Government not take that action rather than do what it proposes to do? When we were considering that Bill, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on more than one occasion interjected - it is recorded in "Hansard" at page 1247 - and obtained from the Minister for Defence, who is the Leader of . the Government in the Senate, a statement that as far as that Bill was concerned there was no conscription. The Senate should remember that that Bill re-organised not only the Army but also the Navy and the Air Force - the whole of the defence forces. If that was the position a fortnight ago, what has changed? The only thing that the Government can suggest - the position really has not changed - is that there has been another raid on Malaysia by 50 or 60 Indonesians. Our forces were on the spot. Does this create the great emergency that we hear so much about? No-one can say for a moment that within the past 14 or 15 days - make it 20- there has been such a great deterioration in the international situation, so far as it affects the safety of this nation, as would cause this conscription issue to rise again. Surely the Government and its advisers could not have thought that the Indonesians would stop this wrong doing? Can the Govern? ment produce proof that Indonesia will increase its activities which as I say are totally wrong? No. That is just one of those things conjured up in the minds of the Government, and let us not forget it.

As. the Leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Calwell, said in another place last night, these reviews have been submitted to the Parliament with a regularity that makes them commonplace, but the most remarkable feature is that they nearly always come out a very short time before an election for one House or the other, or for both. Therefore, one is quite entitled to say that this is nothing more than a political stunt, and I shall go on to prove it. Senator McKenna referred to a statement by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) on 26th October - not last year, but 17 days ago. He said - we have not introduced conscription . . . because our military advisers have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face.

The Government has to explain that away. When I interjected to the Minister for Defence: "You said the same thing in August", he said: " But that was in August ". He is very lucky that he did not say it last week, because when the big boss talks I know what the Minister says. He said this in August in Perth, and so he might have some grounds for saying that the position changed between August and 13 th November, but the Government will find it pretty hard to explain why the Minister for the Army - surely he is the responsible Minister, because conscription will apply only to that one Service - said that his military advisers had told him that it should not be done. In how many reviews have we read the expression " acting on the advice of our advisers "?

The Prime Minister said in the latest review that the reason we could not get recruits was that there was practically no unemployment and the economy was prosperous. 1 am not disputing that unemployment is extremely low; let us all hope that it remains so. I am not disputing that there is prosperity, but for the masses of the people it is a two wage packet economy, with husbands and wives working. The Prime Minister said that we could not get recruits because conditions were so good. Let us look at the position. At 30th June 1960, when the unemployed totalled 47,200, there were 21,400 men in the permanent Army and 47,700 in the permanent forces. In 1963, when the number of unemployed had almost doubled to 81,400, the number in the permanent Army had increased to 22,600 and in the permanent forces to 50,100. When the unemployed totalled 111,600 in 1961 there were 20,400 in the permanent Army and 46,700 in the permanent forces. These figures discount one of the claims of the Prime Minister. As I have not quoted the figures in sequence, and as there are only four or five lines of figures, with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate them in " Hansard " -

 

An examination of " Defence Report 1964 " at page 58 shows quite clearly that the Government's view that the attractions of civilian employment are the main bar to the increase in the numbers of our permanent forces is wrong; quite apart from the fact that it must be insulting to those at present in the forces.

The new defence programme is a Government stunt. Let us look at another stunt which the Government put over before the last election. This was adverted to be Senator McKenna. I refer, of course, to the decision on the TFX bomber. The late Mr. Townley was sent post haste to America in connection with this matter, and we all know what happened. We have been told that we may get some of these bombers in 1968 and some in 1969. The United States Secretary for Air - and he should know, because it is his job and such officials are not incompetent - has stated that we should get the bombers in 1969 or 1970. The B47 was to be a stopgap bomber. On the eve of the last election B47s were brought to Australia and flown over all Australian capital cities; but as soon as the election was over they became as scarce, if I may so describe the situation, as flies in my city in winter. They flew away. Honorable senators opposite have not the facts to back their claim that this was not a political stunt. My main concern about this is that we were supposed to have a stopgap bomber. I sincerely hope that the American Government was not a party to the deception; I could not imagine it would be. In view of what the Prime Minister said, I think he owes our American friends an apology. He should say to them, " I did not mean to put you in". The ordinary man in the street should know that this was a stunt.

Now let us examine the situation regarding conscription for overseas service. This again is nothing but a political stunt. Evidence of this is the fact that the Government is already turning away volunteers from the permanent defence forces. It could obtain from volunteers the number necessary to perform the functions which the conscripts will be forced to carry out. What are the facts? On 21st May 1964 Senator McClelland asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) the following question -

1.   How many persons made application to join (a) the Royal Australian Navy, (b) the Australian Military Forces, and (c) the Royal Australian Air Force, in the period 1st January to 31st December 1963.

2.   How many were accepted as recruits in each Service.

3.   How many were rejected (a) for medical reasons, (b) because of lack of a suitable educational standard, or (c) for any other reason.

The question was answered a few weeks ago as follows -

1.   Number of persons who made application to join the Services in 1963. (a) Royal Australian Navy, 8,057; (b) Australian Military Forces, 11.079; (c) Royal Australian Air Force, 5,796.

2.   Number who were accepted as recruits in each Service, (a) Royal Australian Navy, 2,034; (b) Australian Military Forces, 2,839; (c) Royal Australian Air Force, 1,605.

Of those rejected, 10 per cent, were rejected by the Royal Australian Navy, 12 per cent, by the Australian Military Forces and 13 per cent, by the Royal Australian Air Force on medical grounds. The Navy rejected 3,078 volunteers for reasons other than medical or educational. Some failed to follow up their applications, others withdrew their applications, others failed to report, others had unsatisfactory civil records, and others were below the required training potential. Of those who volunteered for the various Services, the Navy rejected 50 per cent., the Army 27 per cent, and the Air Force 38 per cent, on educational grounds.

Let me sum up the position. Of the 8,057 men who applied to join the Navy, 2.034 only were accepted., Of .the 11,079 who applied to join the .Army, 2,839 only were accepted. Of the 5,796 who applied to join the Air Force, 1,605 only were accepted. One wonders what educational grounds keep so many volunteers out of the Services. Will the Government accept them as conscripts? Will they be given the same stern educational test when conscription is introduced? In view of these facts one wonders whether the Government really wants the men whom it is seeking.

I have asked what qualifications are required. I hope someone on the Government side will be able to tell me. Are the men in my own State required to have the Intermediate Certificate? Are they required to have the Leaving Certificate? Will the Government go further and require even higher educational qualifications? In view of the number of volunteers who have been rejected, one really wonders what the Government wants. No-one would quarrel with a rejection on medical grounds, but what about the men who have been rejected for other reasons? If a person applied to join the Navy, the Army or the Air Force and was rejected, and if the Services were so keen to get recruits, one would think that there would be some follow up of the applicants who must have occupied some portion of an official's time when they made their first attempt to enlist.

The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) came into this matter by replying to a question that is recorded in "Hansard" of 22nd September 1964. The question is in these terms -

1.   Since the pay increases granted in June last, how many enlisted personnel have -

(a)   re-engaged for a further term; and

(b)   not re-engaged?

2.   What were the figures for the corresponding period last year?

The reply to the question clearly indicates that there was an increase in re-enlistment in the Services following the pay increases. Only last night when the various repatriation bills were being discussed in this chamber the question was asked whether pay and other amenities could be made more attractive if - it were so essential - I do not say that it is not - to encourage men to . join the Services. That is quite common in outside industry. Certainly there are awards, but everyone knows to what extent the ordinary employer abides by the awards if he has difficulty in getting, lay, a carpenter or a plumber. The employer is interested only in bodies.

If the Government gets the men it wants - I believe that we should have them but only if they volunteer - what will it do? Are the conscripts to be kept apart from the volunteers? The conscripts will not come in until the second half of next year and I do not know when the experts will tell the Government that they are sufficiently trained to be sent to Malaysia or anywhere else. What will happen when some of the troops in Malaysia are volunteers and some of them are conscripts. All honorable members no doubt recollect the distasteful name, chocko, that was used during the last war. The Government's proposal on this occasion will cause more trouble.

As I said earlier, if the Government wants men in Malaysia now all it needs do is request the Governor-General to declare a state of emergency; nothing else. If this were done the C.M.F., which consists of volunteers, could be sent without any difficulty.


Senator Mattner - The honorable senator does not mind the C.M.F. going.


Senator KENNELLY - I never mind any person going to fight if he volunteers to go.


Senator Mattner - The honorable senator will hide behind the volunteers?


Senator KENNELLY - I will not hide any more than the honorable senator will. The Prime Minister used the word " emergency " in his statement. He nearly makes me cry when I read it. All he need do is apply the provisions in the existing legislation which no doubt has been proclaimed. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has told us, the Act contains no provision for conscription. I see that he nods his head.


Senator Paltridge - That is right.


Senator KENNELLY - And so much has happened within the last 10 or 20 days! Let him tell the Senate what has happened to cause the Government's action.


Senator Willesee - The writs have been issued.


Senator KENNELLY - That could be the reason. All I say is this: There is no fear about what either political party will do when war is declared. There has never been, any doubt about that. The only trouble is that when war is declared the people do not want a Liberal Government because they know full well that the country is safer in other hands. That has been proved. But there is no fear of what will be done in defence of this nation.

The Government has seen fit to conscript certain people. It is always telling us how we should bring our defence forces and our equipment and so on into line with those of the United States. I believe that is a sensible idea because it appears, from a practical point of view, that if there is danger we will not be without, friends, particularly in view of the A.N.Z.U.S. and other Treaties. The required number of our own boys will be called up. The required number of naturalised boys will be called up. But what about the others - the unnaturalised boys - who will not be called up and who will take the jobs that our boys leave?

I know that the Government will say that it will solve this problem by an act of Parliament which will provide that young men who have done their training will get back their jobs. But why does not the Government follow the United States in this? I do not want the Government to call up our young men, but if it intends to do so why not follow the United States system? Is anything wrong with that? It is true that Britain does not follow that system but in the United States all young men, irrespective of whether they are naturalised, must do their training. Why will the Australian Government leave out the young men who are not naturalised? It is not my purpose to throw a spanner in the works in respect of those who are naturalised and those who are not, but this is a serious matter. We are discussing a world situation which could mean the spilling of blood and, when all is said and done, he is not a bad fellow who will protect his own.

I return to the note on which I commenced. If words would defend this country, no-one either inside this Parliament or anywhere else could say one word against the Government. If words were munitions and men in khaki; if words were naval men in ships; if words were planes and men in air force blue, no country, certainly no country our size, could ever point a finger at us because our strength would be so great.







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