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Tuesday, 17 November 1964


Senator HANNAN (VICTORIA) - I am reading from copious notes which I prepared myself.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator might well reduce the matter that he is reading.


Senator HANNAN - Very well. In the face of all that strife and struggle in South East Asia, honorable senators opposite take the view that there is no need to strengthen our defences. Nobody in his or her right mind wants war, but simply not wanting war will not be sufficient to avoid it. A parable reminds us that when a strong man armed keepeth his court there is peace. I hope Senator Prowse will agree that that is a correct quotation from the Scriptures, to which he referred so extensively yesterday. This nation must be sufficiently strong to ensure that there will be no quotient for any aggressor who attacks us. It is true to say that we do not stand alone in this area. We are associated with great and powerful friends in the S.E.A.T.O. alliance, but more especially we have been privileged largely through the instrumentalities of this Government in securing from the United States of America the great pledge in the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact.


Senator Tangney - We have always had goodwill for America since the early days of World War II.


Senator HANNAN - I know that Mr. Curtin made approaches to America and I gave him full marks for that. I have never been critical of him for it. I would like Senator Tangney to know that it has been a great grief to us on this side of the chamber that that former pro-American attitude now seems to be completely reversed; that whenever the Americans wish to do anything in this country the Labour Party continuously opposes them. I refer, for example, to the North West Cape base, the nonsense spoken about a nuclear free zone and other matters which clearly indicate that whatever love the A.L.P. may have had 25 years ago for the Americans has now changed completely and entirely. I am reminded by a colleague that one honorable senator opposite has referred to the Americans' presence here as an intrusion.

I want to emphasise that the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact was signed in September 1951 under the present Administration. I regard it as the linchpin of our security and the maintenance of good relations with the United States, which unquestionably are of primary importance to Australia. Can we expect the United States under the A.N.Z.U.S. provisions to send here conscripts to look after us and defend us if we are not prepared to take the proper steps in our own defence? A refusal to protect ourselves is precisely the defence policy which the Labour Party would substitute for the Government's present measures. If that statement seems to be an exaggeration, I invite honorable senators to read the official " Speakers' Notes" issued by the A.L.P. at the time of the last general Senate election in 1961. Page 2 of the notes sets out the list of contents. All the old shibboleths on unemployment, monopolies and that type of matter are included, but although there are 24 headings, the word " defence " is not even listed. The word " defence " does not occur.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! It appears to me that the honorable senator is reading his speech.


Senator HANNAN - If a party, Mr. Deputy President, does not list in 24 headings the subject of defence, at a time of an election campaign, I think it is fair to draw the inference that it has no policy on that subject.


Senator Ormonde - How long ago was it?


Senator HANNAN - It was 1961, at the time of the last Senate election.


Senator Ormonde - Did the honorable senator see what happened in 1963?


Senator HANNAN - I will, deal with that in a moment. Allow me to deal with it seriatim. I cannot leap about all over the place. It is therefore an inescapable conclusion that in 1961 the Labour Party did not have either a good policy or a bad or an indifferent policy on defence. It had no policy on defence at all.

I come now to 1963. Even as late as February 1963 Mr. Calwell was saying that the Labour Party's defence policy was indefensible. They are not my words.


Senator Ormonde - Mr. Calwell said that, did he?


Senator HANNAN - Yes. I invite the honorable senator to examine the reports in February 1963 - it may be a month or so earlier. It was prior to the calling of the Kingston pub conference. In the " Speakers' Notes " to which I have referred there is an allusion to foreign policy but defence is not mentioned. Under the heading "Foreign Policy" the first item referred to is the withdrawal of Australian troops from Malaya. Honorable senators can imagine how that attitude would strengthen relations at the moment. The notes then proceed to state that the S.E.A.T.O. organisation must be replanned on a cultural, educational, medical and technical assistance basis. That would be extremely useful in keeping out the Communist hordes! Presumably it would apply to those who are guilty of starting the present Communist aggression. The notes go on to say, under the heading "Foreign Policy", that the Australian armed forces should be re-organised for defence specifically as a peace unit of the United Nations, not as an aggressive force. Presumably the Labour Party wants this country to have the same sort of protection that the Congo received from the United Nations.

To be perfectly fair, it is true that the Labour Party in 1963 varied its stand on the Malaya question. It has brought out some sort of mumbo-jumbo about a treaty, but in essence the matter remains unchanged. The simple truth is that the Australian people would never trust the present members of the Labour Party on the defence issue. They are not my words. They are the words of a Labour Party candidate at the last general election. I refer to the can.didate for the electoral division of Bruce.


Senator Ormonde - Another theatrical fellow.


Senator HANNAN - He is Mr. Barry Jones, as a colleague reminds me. Australians remember the tragic error of the expulsion of the Americans from Manus Island in 1947-48. It would be a matter of great consolation to the Australian people if there were a powerful American base lying athwart the line of a hostile convoy to this country from that part of the world. Australians remember the suicidal folly of the nuclear free zone suggestion, and the foolishness of saying to America: "You must come here and protect us, but you must not bring with you your most powerful weapons". I wonder if the explosion of a nuclear weapon by Communist China has changed this line of thinking. I wonder whether Indonesia's threat to have the nuclear bomb next year has changed this line of thinking. Honorable senators opposite will recall that Indonesia lies in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

Yesterday Senator Ormonde said by way of interjection that President Kennedy agreed with the policy of a nuclear free zone. I remind the honorable senator that President Kennedy said to Mr. Calwell in July 1963 that he did not understand the policy of the Australian Labour Party for a nuclear free zone.


Senator Ormonde - He did not believe in the extension of the bomb though.


Senator HANNAN - I have quoted what he said to Mr. Calwell. Those are the words of the late President Kennedy as they appeared in a report in the Melbourne "Age" of his discussion with Mr. Calwell. Even further than that, a spokesman for the American State Department - from memory I think his name is Stelle- said in November 1963 that if Australia should adopt a nuclear free zone policy, America would have to rethink the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact. I ask honorable senators: How crazy can a great political party get in propounding policies which can only be to our own detriment?

I wish now to refer to a matter which arose recently in this chamber and is fresh in the minds of honorable senators. I shall not go into it in great detail. I refer to the attitude of the Labour Party to the establishment of a United States communication station at North West Cape in Western Australia. Instead of welcoming this move as an earnest of American sincerity under A.N.Z.U.S. the initial reaction of ins

Labour Party was to object to it altogether. Mr. Calwell saw that this objection was fatal to electoral chances and made the famous statement which I quoted earlier to the Senate.


Senator Ormonde - What the honorable senator has said is untrue.


Senator HANNAN - No, it is not. It is true that initially the vote was 36 to zero; that is at the beginning of the discussion. We will get around to precise figures later on if the honorable senator really wishes me to give them. Instead of welcoming the move for the establishment of the communication station, the Labour Party did everything possible to kill it. The Labour Party actually voted to kill the Bill in this chamber and in another place.

Two months ago I was privileged to have an opportunity to discuss the establishment of the North West Cape base with the man in the Pentagon who is in charge of the venture - Admiral Roeder.


Senator Ormonde - How did the honorable senator get in?


Senator HANNAN - There was no reason to regard me as a security risk. The honorable senator does not mean that.


Senator Willesee - But you create security risks.


Senator HANNAN - I do not think the honorable senator means that, either.


Senator Willesee - 1 do.


Senator HANNAN - I ask that the statement be withdrawn.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator will withdraw the statement.


Senator Willesee - I withdraw it.


Senator HANNAN - I was privileged to discuss the North West Cape base with Admiral Roeder in an open and public discussion at the Pentagon. Two or three other people were present during the discussion. The Admiral told me of the great store placed by the United States Navy upon this base and how delighted were the Navy and the United States Government in anticipation of completion of the project. He also gave me an indication of his appreciation of the way in which the matter had been handled by the Australian Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies).

I want to say now a little about the callup for compulsory military service, to which some people have given the coloured term " conscription ". The times are grave and I believe that in the circumstances the remedy is proper. Nobody likes compulsion. Nobody likes compulsory military service, but as the Prime Minister has pointed out, there is no alternative. I think it is wrong for honorable senators opposite to suggest that everybody who is called up will necessarily be 'trained overseas; or to quote the rather coloured description which has been used, to give their lives in the jungles of Malaysia. I think that we can learn from the past. We can learn a little from history. Simply because the Labour Party may have a tradition of opposition to conscription, it does not follow that its members should close their minds on the issue in 1964.


Senator Tangney - Labour introduced compulsory military training.


Senator HANNAN - I shall come back and have a little to say about that in a moment. On 16th November 1942 the Australian Prime Minister was the late John Curtin, for whom I am sure all members of this Parliament have the greatest respect. Mr. Curtin found himself embarrassed by the position which existed under the Defence Act; that he could send some of the defence forces to one part of New Guinea but not to another part. As he said, he had had some embarrassing discussions with General MacArthur on the point. In November 1942 a special conference was called in order that the matter might be ironed out. Mr. Curtin requested that he be allowed to amend the Defence Act in order to send the Australian Militia Forces to those islands in the Pacific which the GovernorGeneral might state were associated with the defence of Australia. There was pretty keen argument, as we can imagine, and an interesting meeting took place in Melbourne on 18th November 1942. One would have thought that with the Japanese fighting in New Guinea, with the Americans hard pressed in the Solomons and with the Allies fighting across North Africa the Prime Minister would have had only to indicate' the difficulties in which he found himself in order to have the conference agree outright to give him the powers he wished. That was not to be the case. When Mr. Curtin began, on 18th November, to put his view, the point of order was taken by

Mr. Calwell,the present Leader of the Labour Party, that because notice had not been given the matter could not be discussed.

The conference went on for two days. Mr. Curtin was, in fact, allowed to put his request. I use the word " request " advisedly. However, instead of giving an immediate answer the conference adjourned so that the six Labour executives in the various States could be consulted. I think that every vestige of opposition to the present Goment's scheme would vanish if all Australians knew what happened at that disgraceful conference.


Senator Ormonde - The honorable senator is giving only a scanty report.


Senator HANNAN - I will deal with the matter in more detail if the honorable senator wants me to.


Senator Willesee - This is a quarter of a century ago.


Senator HANNAN - Things have not changed very much because Mr. Calwell is at present using the language of 1916. This was in 1942. I wish to make passing reference to an editorial which appeared in the " Sydney Morning Herald " of Thursday 19th November 1942. In that edition honorable senators will find these words -

Taking his political courage in both his hands Mr. Curtin on Tuesday confronted the interstate Labour Conference with a request for permission to extend the territorial liability of the militia for service under the Defence Act. Its reply yesterday - a reply wholly unworthy of the governing body of the Labour movement in a time of national emergency - was to adjourn the discussion until December pending consideration and direction by the Suite branches.

The conference in effect sidestepped an issue of urgent national importance, and in evading responsibility for an immediate decision it administered an unmerited rebuff to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Curtincannot be said to have raised the question either prematurely or in other than its most moderate form.

Then the editorial went on to discuss in general terms the necessity for the A.I.F. and the A.M.F. to fight as one army. In another part it gave some details of Mr Curtin's reasons for saying that the Army should be unified. It said also, in words which perhaps have a familiar ring, that Mr. Forde, the then Minister for the Army, had said three weeks or a month earlier that the Army was getting all the recruits it needed through the A.I.F.


Senator McClelland - How about talking about 1964?


Senator HANNAN - The result of the conference, as I said, was delayed for seven weeks until 5th January 1943. I know that it is difficult for honorable senators opposite to take this because the conference was a disgraceful farce that should never have been enacted.


Senator Maher - And the leopard does not change its spots.


Senator HANNAN - No, the leopard does not change its spots. These are the people who ask that at some future date - God knows when - they should be entrusted with the government and defence of this country. Mr. Curtin could not get permission to do what he requested straight away, although General McArthur himself, to use Mr. Curtin's own words, had put forth his embarrassment. Honorable senators opposite have often claimed that the late Mr. Curtin and General McArthur were great admirers of one another, and I believe that to be true. The vote which was taken was four States to two in favour of the Prime Minister's very moderate proposals. The interesting thing is, of course, that (he present leader of the Labour Party led the Victorian team which opposed Mr. Curtin's proposals.


Senator Ormonde - That is the nigger in the woodpile.


Senator HANNAN - I have never called Mr. Calwell a nigger in the woodpile. Those are the honorable senator's words, not mine. As I say, this was a disgraceful episode in Australia's political history. I am bringing the matter forward only because honorable senators opposite are fond of making the foulest allegations against the present Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies - saying that he deserted in the face of the enemy in 1941 and all sorts of nonsense of that kind. After that, in 1963, the defence policy of the Labour Party emerged a little. With the exception of the purchase of a new aircraft carrier - we have decided to modernise " Melbourne " - all its proposals have been adopted in the present Government's defence review.

I shall quote from a distinguished Australian who made a statement some considerable time after the 1942 episode to which I have referred. This gentleman said -

I think that Australia should build up its forces particularly the R.A.A.F. and in the Navy submarine and anti-submarine vessels having regard to the present trend of atom warfare by submarines. Expenditure on the R.A.A.F. is justified particularly because of the relatively low drain on our resources and because of the flexibility of airborne strength.

Do honorable senators recall who said that? That statement was made by Mr. J. B. Chifley on 2nd March 1951.

As honorable senators opposite have been invoking the name of Mr. Chifley as if his support of any proposition would give complete and absolute sanction to it, I cannot see why members of the Opposition should take such umbrage at the present propositions from the Government because the Government has done, among other things, precisely what Mr. Chifley suggested. The Government has built up Australia's forces, particularly the Royal Australian Air Force. I am not going to list the aircraft that Australia is buying. We are also purchasing for the Royal Australian Navy submarines and anti-submarine vessels. In view of the suggestions which Mr. Chifley himself made, surely the actions of the Government should sweep away all Labour's objections to these propositions.

Time is running on, but I think some reference should be made to one or two of the matters referred to as election stunts. I recall that, during the debate yesterday, Senator Cavanagh said that the Government created crises in election years, that there was no call for this type of vigorous rearmament and that this action was purely an election stunt. As a matter of fact, the word " stunt " was severely overworked yesterday. I intended to try to count the number of times " stunt " was used yesterday, but I was not able to get round to doing so. If Senator Cavanagh's proposition is valid - of course, I take the view that it is not - presumably the Government persuaded Sukarno to drop a few paratroopers for electoral purposes. If the Government was really having this done as part of an election stunt, would it have got Sukarno to drop them in Malaysia? Surely that would have been a bit clumsy. Surely Sukarno could have had these paratroopers dropped in Darwin, Sydney or somewhere else in Australia so as really to jolly things along, if the Government wanted this as an election stunt. I hope we will hear nothing more of this nonsense that the defence of Australia is being made a political football because I think that it is a matter of general regret to honorable senators on this side of the chamber and, I feel, to many honorable senators on the Opposition side of the chamber that the main political parties of this country have not been able to evolve a bipartisan policy on defence. The Government of this country does not shoot its political opponents. Both sides of the House adhere-


Senator Willesee - That is a matter of regret to you.


Senator HANNAN - What was that, Senator?


Senator Willesee - That is a matter of regret to you.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood). - Order! I ask Senator Hannan to address the Chair.


Senator HANNAN - A question was being addressed to me. I did not hear what is was. Therefore, I am unable to answer it.

Honorable senators on both sides of this chamber adhere at least externally to democratic procedures. It is therefore a matter to be regretted that the defence policy for the entire nation cannot be evolved in some bipartisan fashion. But until the antiAmericanism of the Australian Labour Party is eliminated, until the Communist influence in the foreign policy of the Australian Labour Party is eliminated, and until those things which cause a deep cleavage and a deep gap between the proposals of the Government parties and the Australian Labour Party, that type of national foreign policy, regrettably, seems to be unattainable. I support the proposals of the Government, and oppose the amendment.







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