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Friday, 13 November 1964


Senator MATTNER (South Australia) . - Today we are discussing a matter of vital importance to Australia. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) speak they do so for their Party and their words are carefully chosen. They must accept any criticism that is levelled at their Party because of the things they say in this place. Senator Kennelly said that sending national service trainees overseas is a contemptible political stunt.


Senator Ormonde - Is that all he said?


Senator MATTNER - Could the honorable senator have said anything worse? Could anything worse be said by a responsible member of Parliament? He said that all we have had are words, words, words; that we want something more than words. Well, here are proposals in front of him. We had words, words, words from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but he had neither the courage nor the conviction to support any of these proposals that would help to defend Australia. This is what the country will know. Senator Kennelly had neither the courage nor the conviction, nor did he have the welfare of the people of Australia sufficiently at heart, to say: " Although we have had words, words, words in the past, here at last is. something to which I can give my support so that the families of this country may be adequately defended." What did he say? He said that this was a dirty and contemptible stunt. Will that defend Australia? 1. nsk: Is he prepared always to hide behind volunteers? What is wrong with compulsory service to defend Australia? Is the Opposition against it? The whole theme of Senator Kennelly's speech was that we should wait until the enemy comes to our shores before we lift a hand to defend Australia. Every member of the Opposition who is against these proposals is virtually telling the women and children of this country that the Labour Party would let the enemy come to our shores before lifting a hand to defend Australia.


Senator Cant - You are mad.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator will withdraw that expression.


Senator Cant - I withdraw it.


Senator MATTNER - Senator Cant claimed that our .soldiers were armed with bows and arrows. Nothing he could say could insult our men serving overseas more than his remarks today, but nobody takes any notice of him. I suggest that he should see for himself whether our troops are armed with bows and arrows. His claim shows just how little one so clever can know.


Senator Hendrickson - In 1940 our soldiers did not have even bows and arrows; they had broomsticks. Deny that.


Senator MATTNER - I would be delighted to give the honorable senator one or two facts. I suppose the greatest wartime disaster that we ever experienced occurred during the term of a Labour government. Senator Hendrickson claimed that when the Menzies Government was in power during the last war our men were dying in thousands in the islands of the Pacific.


Senator Hendrickson - Of course they were.


Senator MATTNER - The Japanese did not enter the war until long after the Menzies Government had gone out of office. Anybody who died in the islands died during the term of a Labour government.


Senator Hendrickson - But the Menzies Government sent them to the islands without anything with which to defend themselves.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I have been very lenient with Senator Hendrickson. His interjections will cease.


Senator MATTNER - Let me give the Opposition some facts. I have with me a dossier that might be useful if I am provoked to use it. Let me return to some of the criticisms levelled by the Opposition. So far all we have had from the Opposition has been criticism. The Opposition has delved into the past and has criticised everything that the Menzies Government is alleged to have done, but neither Senator Kennelly nor Senator McKenna has put forward one suggestion as to how we should defend Australia.


Senator Cant - It is the Government's responsibility; let the Government accept it.


Senator MATTNER - All right. The only concrete reference by Senator McKenna to ways of defending this country was his reference to the B47 aircraft. He was in favour of accepting the B47, but what did Mr. Calwell say about the B47 last night? He said that the Americans are bulldozing this aircraft into rubbish. This is the aircraft which Senator McKenna was so anxious to get for Australia.


Senator Kennelly - It is the aircraft the Government brought out here.


Senator MATTNER - Senator Kennelly cannot have it both ways. Does he deny that his leader is another place said that the Americans were bulldozing these aircraft?


Senator Hendrickson -- No, but they would be better than nothing. The Government has nothing.


Senator MATTNER - I refute that. If Senator Hendrickson is so jaundiced and so un-Australian as to want to encourage the Communist boys, let him repeat that statement outside the Parliament.

This matter must be considered from a national viewpoint. The Government is not wholly responsible for the defence of this country. The Parliament must accept its share of responsibility. All governments are responsible to the will of Parliament. The will of this Parliament is the will of the Australian people. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are in the majority and accordingly they express the majority view of Parliament. I believe our views represent the will of the people in these dramatically changing times. It is because of these dramatically changing times that the papers the subject of this debate are before us. If the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy think, as they claim, that there is no national danger at present, let them travel a little overseas. Let them visit some of those countries in which there is turmoil. Let them take the scales from their eyes and see the facts.

We are responsible members of Parliament. Surely we see the necessity to defend this country. We cannot hide from the truth because somebody says there is no danger. Must we be so blind to the facts? Are we worthy of a place in this House? Senators from both sides of the chamber should get together on this matter of defence in the interests of the Senate and of providing Australia with the defence that the Opposition claims we need and which we on this side say we will have. That is the proposition before us. It is not pea shooting. All I have heard from the Opposition has been criticism, criticism, criticism. I have not heard one constructive suggestion. The Opposition says it is not its responsibility to defend anything. Are honorable senators opposite so dull? I doubt it. Surely they have some ideas. Let us hear them.


Senator Cant - The Government pinched them all.


Senator MATTNER - If we pinched them why is the Opposition condemning them? Honorable senators opposite are attacking our proposals from beginning to end. They cannot have it both ways. This Senate is to blame if we have not advocated adequate defence measures. We have to take our responsibility for that. One of the functions of the Senate should be to see to it that Australia is adequately defended. I am delighted that a senator is Minister for Defence. This is a matter of great importance to the Senate. This is the first time that a member of the Senate has been Minister for Defence.


Senator Hendrickson - No. We had Sir







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