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Friday, 13 November 1964

Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) . - Before I speak to the paper I want to refer to a low political trick which was used here today by Senator Kennelly. He knew as well as all other honorable senators that when he said that Senator Paltridge had no guts - that was his word - he could not have been more wrong. Senator Paltridge may have some faults but that is not one of them. He has probably more political guts than the rest of us put together. Senator Kennelly omitted to say that if the Minister had spoken, he would have been confined to the amendment and that if he had moved just outside the area encompassed by the amendment, he would have closed the debate, in which case none of us could have spoken. I think that is really what Senator Kennelly wanted because I believe that the Labour Party does not relish the role that it has to take in this debate. I believe that honorable senators opposite would like the debate to be closed now.

Senator Poke - If the honorable senator looks at the list of those who are to speak he might change his views.

Senator BRANSON - I will be very interested to hear them as the days go on. Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made three statements at the conclusion of his remarks. I think those statements must have been a wonderful comfort to our enemies. If they had been made in a time of war, and without privilege, they could well have been treasonable. Mr. Calwell said - we are emphatically not in a position to meet any serious emergency. We are not in a position .to meet any serious threat to our nation. We are not in a position to honour any of our international obligations.

We are already meeting our obligations in Malaysia and Vietnam, but this man would have the people of Australia, and the people overseas who might be looked upon as our enemies, believe that we are completely and utterly defenceless. That is not true and the Opposition knows that as well as I do.

Senator Morris - There are not many of them over there at present.

Senator BRANSON - I do not mind that. The statement on defence that was made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) in this Senate was one of the most important statements ever made in this place. According to our information, the Australian people believe that the contents of the statement were correct and that it was highly desirable that the statement should have been made at this point of time.

Senator Cavanagh - How does the honorable senator know?

Senator BRANSON - 1 have the same avenues of information, probably, as Senator Cavanagh has. I can read the Press. In the States of Western Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, when gallup polls were taken of the young men concerned with this question, it gladdened my heart, and probably everybody elses, to learn that there was not one young man who would be eligible for call-up who did not say in effect: "Yes, 1 think this is a good thing; 1 will be in it ". This is very heartening. Senator Cavanagh is attempting to interject. I will deal with him in a minute. I remind the Senate that 1 speak as a father of four sons, two of whom will be eligible for call-up during the period under review. I am therefore quite entitled to speak on this matter.

It is clear to me that the situation in Vietnam has deteriorated alarmingly, despite what may be said by honorable senators on the other side, particularly since the Americans lost So many of their aircraft as a result of the invasion of North Vietnamese troops which infiltrated into South Vietnam. The position in Indonesia has also deteriorated. Australians are fighting Indonesians at this point of time. In my opinion, Indonesia is definitely carrying on completely unjustified armed aggression against her neighbour Malaysia with the intention of destroying that country - a country which has committed no acts of aggression against Indonesia. Malaysia is a friendly nation with no territorial ambitions whatever. When the plebiscite was taken and one country indicated that it did not want to become part of the Federation, Malaysia said, in effect: "That is quite all right. You can stay out."

If Indonesia is successful in its aggression against the territory of Borneo it is my opinion that it will extend its efforts to other territories. Just how long can Malaysia remain on the defensive in this case? How long can she put up with these deliberate armed attacks on her soil? If she retaliates, what is our position as a friendly nation that has certain commitments to her? We have said to Malaysia: " If you are attacked from without, or if you are subverted from within by the Communists, we will come to your assistance". If Malaysia is attacked we would be involved in what I consider would be a Korean type of war.

It is because of this deteriorating situation that the Government has brought forward these proposals. The preservation of a strong Malaysia is absolutely vital to Australia's defence. With the worsening situation in Vietnam it becomes so much more important for us to be prepared. If Vietnam goes I have not much faith in what might happen in Cambodia, a country that has already aligned itself in the United Nations with those countries that say that Red China should be recognised. Thailand would be next to go, and then Malaysia would bo the last country to stand between us and naked Communist aggression. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that, despite what Dr. Sukarno says, he has his eyes on Papua and East New Guinea, and probably Timor too. I consider that he is a desperate man who believes that he has nothing to lose by pursuing his aggressive actions. He is like all megalomaniac dictators: When they see that their time is running out, they are prepared to resort to stupid and desperate actions. Because they are at the end of their tether, they do not count the cost to humanity. They consider that that does not matter.

For these reasons, Australia must do more. If my view is correct, we must do more and we must pay more if we want national security. We shall never get it on the cheap. Here, I should like to quote a passage from the statement made in this chamber on behalf of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) by the Minister for Defence, for I consider that that statement puts the situation much better than I could put it. This is the passage - we are with Malaysia for several good reasons. Malaysia is a well governed and friendly Commonwealth country, and as such is entitled to our support. Malaysia is a non-Communist nation, and is willing at all times to resist the Reds:-

We went to Malaysia's assistance and gave help in eradicating the Communists there. Yet our friends on the opposite side of the Parliament, year after year, at conferences of the Australian Labour Party, stated that we should withdraw our troops from Malaya. Referring to Malaysia, the passage from the statement continues - it is monstrous that she should be the subject of unprovoked aggression from the south.

I think it is understood by every sensible, thinking Australian that we cannot, within the limits of our resources of both manpower and money, hope to defend Australia. 1 was as appalled as was Senator Wright last evening to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) in another place. I may not quote the " Hansard " report, because the debate is still current, but I shall recite some of his remarks from memory. He said that we could not trust the Americans or have any faith that they would come to our aid. Indeed, he said that we could not rely on anybody coming to help us and that we must defend ourselves in Australia. We are a nation of fewer than 11 million people and our coastline extends for more than 12,000 miles. How can we be expected to defend ourselves without placing some reliance on our friends and allies with whom we have entered into pacts and treaties? It is stupid to say that we are capable of defending ourselves on our own and that we must do so.

Senator Prowse - The member of the other place whom the honorable senator mentioned said that United States troops who came here during the last war were refugees.

Senator BRANSON - Yes. However, I do not wish to drag that into this debate. I believe that some of the speeches made by Opposition members in the other place last evening were deplorable. Remarks made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) were low. Indeed, the part played by the Opposition in the debate in the other House was frightful.

We must rely on our friends and allies in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and in the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, which is commonly known as A.N.Z.U.S. If we look for assistance from our allies in S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S., we must make an adequate and realistic contribution to our own defence if we are to deserve that assistance. Our effort must compare favorably with that of our allies. Our expenditure on defence in the three years from 1965-66 to 1967-68 inclusive will average £407 million a year. I consider this to be a pretty good effort by a nation of fewer than 11 million people. It is an effort of which I think, we can be proud.

I wonder whether the Australian people realise, when our defence programme is criticised, that we have partners with whom we have entered into agreements. I have never heard it suggested by anybody that we have not lived up to the requirements set for us by those partners. I cast my mind back to a time when, in my view, we were perhaps slipping a little and when Mr. Dean Rusk came to this country. In no time, a quick review of our defence programme was made and expenditure was increased by, I think, £40 million a. year. I have never heard criticism to the effect that we have not lived up to the commitments that our friends and our allies expect of us.

I turn now to the number of trained men in this country. I am convinced that many people do not realise the number of people in Australia who have received basic training since 1950. The Ministerial statement on defence shows that the present strength of the regular forces is 52,000 men. There are 1,000 Pacific Islanders in the Pacific Islands Regiment. There are 27,630 men in the Citizen Military Forces; 5,115 in the Citizen Naval Forces; and 868 in the Citizen Air Forces. That makes a total of 86,613 trained men. We intend to increase the forces by another 22,950 men which, together with the increase of 7,500 men in the C.M.F., gives a total, in round figures, of 110,000. I venture to say that the increase in the strength of the C.M.F. will be much higher than is anticipated. I am sure of that. The proposed increases, including the extra of 2,400 men in the Pacific Islands Regiment, will give us a total of about 120,000 trained personnel. That is not an insignificant number.

Then we have to consider the number of national servicemen who received basic training between 1951 and 1960. I am not saying that they have been trained as fighting troops, but they have received basic training. Almost a quarter of a million national servicemen received that basic training. Then we have the officers in the reserve. I am one of those officers. You might look at me and say: " What use would you be in time of an emergency?" I would not be of much use as a fighting man, but I would be of a lot of use for training and administrative purposes. I could do a job. There are 20,000 officers in the reserve. There are a further 20,000 officers who are not in the reserve but who, in time of emergency, could be called upon, and their services would be readily available. We must also remember that between 1950 and 1964, 120,000 school cadets, received basic training.

Taking the number of men who have received full service training, the number of men who have received basic training, and the number of men in the reserve forces, we reach a figure of approximately 605,000. If we take the strength of an army division, as we old boys knew it in the last war, as being 15,000 men, and we use that as a unit of measure, we have the equivalent of 40 divisions of men who have received some form of military training. In a time of national emergency we would not be as flatfooted as the Opposition would have the people of Australia believe. Mr. Calwell said that we can do nothing, that we are defenceless, that we cannot live up to any of our obligations.

Senator Hannan - It is treason.

Senator BRANSON - If it was said in time of war I would consider it treason. I think that Mr. Calwell's statement must have been a very great comfort to the people whom we consider to be our enemies.

Senator Hannan - It made headlines in Peking.

Senator BRANSON - I bet it did, too. It has been said in this chamber that the proposals contained in the defence review are an election stunt. On 5th December the electors of Australia will say whether they consider that the action taken by the Government is an election stunt or whether it is warranted because of the situation which faces Australia at the present time. The Opposition says, in effect, that although the forthcoming election is only a Senate election, it is the alternative Government. As long as I have been taking an interest in politics, the Australian Labour Party has always said that it is the only party that knows anything about defence and that it is the only party capable of running a war. Let us have a look at what sort of a team Labour would make if it was in office and trying to run this country during a war.

Senator Cooke - That was said twice before in two wars.

Senator BRANSON - Just wait. I am sure there will be some interesting reactions to the statements I will read. It was said earlier that we do nothing about defence. In referring to statements by members of the Australian Labour Party, I will not go too far back. Dr. Evatt, in his policy speech in 1955, said-

Labour would not require the huge annual expenditure at present appropriated for defence.

In other words, he said that we were spending too much. When he was asked how he would finance the series of election promises he had made, he said that there would be an estimated saving from the defence vote of £40 million. He would take this money from defence to pay for the election promises he had made. Mr. Calwell, in his radio broadcast in Melbourne on 24th November 1957 - that is not very long ago - said -

It would have been far better if some of the defence grant had been spent on universities and secondary and technical schools. . . .

This was said by the present Leader of the Opposition. I say with respect that we all know Mr. Calwell has a driving obsession and fixation about sending troops away from Australia. He opposed his own leader, John Curtin, tooth and nail on this issue. He even raised points of order when this subject was being debated in the House of Representatives. He is now running true to form. 1 do not blame him for speaking as he does, if these are his opinions, but I think the Australian public should know what has been said. Does he honestly believe that we can sit here at home waiting until the enemy arrives in the country and then do all the things that we should be doing before the enemy gets here? Of course we cannot. The sensible thing to do is to light the enemy as far away from this country as we can. This is a basic instinct. We do not let a robber come into our homes; we stop him in our front yards if we know he is a robber. In " Hansard " of 11th October 1960, Mr. Uren is reported as having said -

This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace. It should devote the money to peaceful uses, such as the Colombo Plan.

This is the important point; he added -

It should disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations.

Senator Morris - Who said that?

Senator BRANSON - Mr. Uren said it in the other House on 11th October 1960.

Senator Hannan - Was he serious?

Senator BRANSON - It was recorded in " Hansard ". He was not in bad company, because on the same day Mr. Pollard is reported in " Hansard " as having said -

All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations.

He should talk to the people of Tibet, India and Vietnam. He would then find out what would happen to us if we had only a police force and waited for help from the United Nations. Again on 11th October 1960 - this was a field day - Mr. Bryant is reported in "Hansard" as having said -

Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north.

So we do not defend ourselves. He also said -

In fact, we say those hordes will never come.

A day later, according to the " Hansard " report, Dr. J. F. Cairns had this to say -

My point is that we should prepare ourselves to supply troops to the United Nations and that it is the only justification that Australia has for supplying any troops anywhere at any time.

I repeat: What would happen to Australia if we had to wait for assistance while the United' Nations went through its exceedingly slow procedures? We would finish up as the poor Tibetans did, and we all know how Tibet was raped and taken over. Mr. James also was in good form. He is reported in " Hansard " of 5th October 1961 as having said-

Senator Paltridge - Is he a Labour man?

Senator BRANSON - Yes. He said-

Great statesmen throughout the world, and great Australians, are clamouring for world peace on a permanent basis. Yet we find this Government . . .

This frightful Government, which docs nothing about defence - . . providing £204 million for defence expenditure in the year 1961-62.

Mr. Killensaid: " Would you cut it? " Mr. James replied -

Yes, I would cut it . . . This Government proposes to spend £204 million this year on weapons of war, although the Tenth Commandment is: " Thou Shalt Not Kill ". But this bloodthirsty Government would spend even more money in this way if it could get away with it.

Senator Morris - Who said that?

Senator BRANSON - Mr. James.

Senator Hannan - Who is he?

Senator BRANSON - He is a Labour member in another place. On 5th October 1961, Mr. Haylen - this is the fellow who has aspirations to join us - said -

The Australian Labour Party is a party of the people. We who belong to that Party believe that S.E.A.T.O. is useless.

What about the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? I have heard it said today that it is a good job we have strong friends in S.E.A.T.O. I am showing the Senate the differences and the divergences in the ranks of the party that is putting itself up as the alternative government to run this country through desperate times. Mr. Haylen went on to say -

We on this side of the chamber ....

Senator Dittmer - We will not cop that from you.

Senator BRANSON - I can shout Opposition senators down if I have to.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! There are too many interjections.

Senator BRANSON - Mr. Haylen said -

We on this side of the chamber are assailed for saying that our troops ought to get out of Malaya. What has Malaya to do with us? Our troops are there only because of old fashioned thinking 1 am darned glad that I am old fashioned, because my thinking is that our preservation lies in the fact-

Senator Hendrickson - But you are not there.

Senator BRANSON - The honorable senator need not worry. 1 was there. 1 was in Malaya for four years. This propaganda - sickening propaganda, as far as I am concerned - that the Government which I support ran away from the people in 1939 or 1940, or whenever it was - I was in uniform and I do not remember - nas been repeated. Like the propaganda of Goebbels and every other form of propaganda, if one repeats it often enough one convinces oneself.

Senator Cooke - How did we become the Government?

Senator BRANSON - Honorable senators opposite looked for this today and I had better give it to them. Some things happened in 1942 of which I am quite sure they would not be very proud if they only knew of them. Perhaps these things could be well said today. I wonder if the people of Australia realise that immediately after the fall of Singapore - I was there, not here - there was a meeting-

Senator Hendrickson - You were not on your own.

Senator BRANSON - Let the honorable senator wait. There was a meeting of the combined intelligence staff and the Curtin War Cabinet. Two Labour members of the War Cabinet asked the chiefs - their advisers -what method of communication they had, whether it would be possible to contact the Japanese, and what procedures were avail- able and could be employed to make a separate peace with Japan.

Senator Dittmer - Name them.

Senator BRANSON - Do honorable senators want them named?

Senator Hendrickson - Yes.

Senator BRANSON - I would not like to name them. I would prefer to tell honorable senators privately, because two of these men are still alive - one of the men who was present is still alive. If I give the names, I feel that the faces of honorable senators opposite - not mine - will be red. I am prepared to name them.

Senator Hendrickson - Go ahead. You should.

Senator BRANSON - You want them named?

Senator Hendrickson - Yes.

Senator BRANSON - I will tell who they were. They were Mr. Ward and Dr. Evatt. Now I have named them. I think the public should know this about this great courageous party that can always do the right thing. At that point of time, two of the War Cabinet were prepared to find out the method and means of-

Senator Cohen - Where did you get this?

Senator Hendrickson - Who was the honorable senator's informant?


Senator BRANSON - That will come out if the honorable senator wants an inquiry.

Senator Hendrickson - What rot. The honorable senator knows that one of these men is dead and the other is in ill health.


Senator BRANSON - I beg the pardon of honorable senators. One of the people who were present at this meeting - neither of the two to whom I have referred - is still alive.

Senator Hendrickson - Name him.

Senator BRANSON - I am not prepared to name him.

Senator Hendrickson - Because he would be a traitor.

Senator BRANSON - He would not be. I knew that the honorable senator would be riled about this.

Senator Hendrickson - I am not riled about this.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I warn Senator Hendrickson for the last time; he will cease interjecting or I will name him.

Senator BRANSON - I set out purely to dispel this myth that the Labour Party is all lily white. It is not all lily white. This has been proved. I said earlier in reply to an interjection that I had seen service. I saw six years of service in the Army during the last war, four years of it overseas. I saw the majority of my friends and comrades in arms in my own particular unit, the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, either killed in action or dying because of the inhuman treatment they received in prisoner of war camps and on the Burma railway line. Senator Anderson will confirm this, because he was with me. I have four sons, two eligible for call up and two who will be eligible later, and I only hope and pray that we will never see the day when we have to put the measures proposed in this statement to the test. Surely by now mankind has learned the bitter lesson that no-one can win a war. The ones who lose a war often come out of it far better than those who win, and I think of Japan and Germany.

Today, we have a set of circumstances in Which we are not the aggressors. We are a peaceful nation seeking to live in peace with the rest of the world; but we are forced to spend a fantastic sum of money just to preserve our peaceful way of life and the peaceful way of life that our friends in Malaysia want 'to lead. I only hope to God that for the sake of my sons, your sons, and Che sons of every Australian, common sense will prevail throughout these troublous times. I oppose the amendment and support the motion for the printing of the paper.

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