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Tuesday, 17 November 1964


Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) . - Madam Acting Deputy President, we have listened for some time to the monotonous reading of a speech by Senator Hannan. He said that until Australia is rid of some political sections of the community - he means the Australian Labour Party which he says is anti-American and proCommunist - other important political sections of the community cannot get together. These are great sentiments. I think that pro-Communism in any section of the community ought to be eradicated. I believe that anti-Americanism and McCarthyism in the community certainly should be eradicated along with all those other undesirable things which have been introduced into our community by people professing to be well meaning. If we can get rid of those things, Australia will be a very great nation and will go much further than it has to date.

I am not going to waste a lot of time on Senator Hannan's speech. I have jotted down several notes in connection with the subject matter of this debate and I shall take a little time to discuss them. As I listened to Senator Hannan's verbal contortions, I thought it was amazing how he came back to the very ideology that he professes to hate, namely, Communism, when he criticised the Australian Labour Party in connection with its policy in respect of places like Vietnam and various countries which are parties to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. He criticised us because we say that in those regions in South East Asia the Government ought to be paying more attention to scientific, social and economic problems rather than to the military aspect. The wisdom of that view surely, has become patently clear in Vietnam today. The honorable senator says that he wonders about our policy to keep out the Communist hordes. When he said that, a remark from Mao-Tse-t'ung immediately came to my mind. It is -

Political power grows out of lbc barrel of a gun.

That is the only construction I could place on what the honorable senator was professing in regard to the position in South East Asia today. I think Senator Hannan should get firmly into his mind the fact that when you deny the other person's point of view, when you live in intolerance, and when you deliver the type of speech which has been heard here for the last 30-odd minutes criticising, smearing and alleging all sorts of things against the members and leaders of the Australian Labour Party because they happen to differ politically from Senator Hannan's party, you do not defeat Communism nor do you defeat ruthlessness. Injustice is not defeated by injustice. Injustice only creates injustice. That is precisely what Senator Hannan is doing. Although he did not use the expression, I say that he certainly came up to the point where he could have said that power comes O'U the barrel of a gun. Looking at Vietnam today, surely the honorable senator can see that we are not worrying about bullets. We are concerned with bringing two groups of people together again. We are concerned to save them and to preserve something in the short life that we are giving them today.

I do not want to be dragged completely off the track by Senator Hannan. I say in charity to my political opponents that I do not think Senator Hannan's views represent their general views. As much as I might disagree with honorable senators on the other side of the chamber, I do not believe that they adopt the attitude towards their fellow men that Senator Hannan does. Certainly, if they do so, they do not adopt the pontifical air that Senator Hannan takes unto himself but denies to everybody else.

I was interested in the speech made yesterday by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge). Senator Fitzgerald commented that this speech was a very moderate one for a man who can become very excited at times and who holds very strong views on matters such as this. Senator Paltridge explained more clearly, if not for the first time, the association between the National Service Bill which will be introduced into the Senate shortly in connection with conscription, and the cold war. I would like, in anticipation of the Bill, to examine the position in regard to the cold war which, of course, must dominate all defence thinking throughout the world today. I shall refer also to the necessity for the introduction of this measure at this time. I suggest immediately that I do not think that any consideration of the cold war with which I will deal can justify the bringing forward of this proposal on the eve of an election.

The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in making his defence review statement last Tuesday night, said that the measures to be taken had become necessary because of the deterioration of the position in Vietnam, the explosion by Communist China of an atomic bomb, and the attitude of Indonesia towards Malaysia, which had been marked, first, by sporadic raids and more recently by the parachuting of troops on to the Malaysian mainland itself as distinct from its island components. Those facts are undeniable. What amazes me is that they seemed to surprise only one person in the community, and that is the Prime Minister himself. If he is genuinely surprised, then his actions belie that surprise.

As has been pointed out, and I do not want to reiterate the point, the actions to be taken by the Government will not achieve anything in regard to these problems in the near future, lt will be some time before the Government's proposals take effect. In fact, on the basis of the presentation of defence review statements over the years we will be due to hear six more such statements before the proposals in this particular defence statement take effect.

The cold war situation is not new. As a matter of fact, it is one that has some amazing convolutions. It has had some amazing alterations. The cold war has markedly dominated the thinking and the attitudes of countries which are basically different from Australia and which have different concepts, different backgrounds, different sociologies and different actions in mind from our own.

Australia as a nation has been fortunate in being able to sit on the sidelines. I admit that this is not an entirely accurate statement, because Australia has been affected by events to a certain degree; but it has also had time to sit back and learn from events. We all remember a time when war seemed inevitable. It seemed that we had no chance of avoiding war, but now we can sec how a tolerance has been developed between the two great giants - the United States of America and Soviet Russia - which we would have thought impossible a few years ago. We have seen a tolerance grow and fructify between these two nations, in the atmosphere of the development of nuclear energy.

The explosion of a nuclear device by Communist China was no surprise. Therefore I cannot concede to the Prime Minister that it should have had any effect on the defence review. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), who is Acting Minister for External Affairs, said recently in answer to a question something that was apparent to everybody - that China was moving near to exploding an atomic bomb and that it would not be a surprise when it happened. The Minister for Defence, as I recall, spoke in similar terms after the bomb had been exploded.


Senator Kennelly - Would any of the steel that we export be incorporated in that device?


Senator WILLESEE - I do not know. That is a problem to which Senator Hannan might apply his mind at some time. I would not have thought that this explosion of an atomic bomb by Communist China would have been surprising. A few nights after the exploding of the original atomic bomb at Hiroshima I was attending a lecture when the point was raised as to whether this new knowledge could be confined to one nation. The lecturer even then indicated how impossible it would be to confine scientific knowledge within geographic boundaries.

Senator Hannanwas worrying today about Indonesia. To my mind, it is not important that Indonesia has stated that it will explode a bomb next year but might not do so. It does not matter whether Indonesia is wrong in its timing of that prospective achievement. I do not see how you can hold science down. Events have developed almost to the stage of a brush fire with the production of atomic energy. Any nation .that makes up its mind to develop atomic energy and use it for destructive purposes will be able to do so. That has been obvious for a long time.

In the early part of the cold war there was the unscientific thought that you would be able to confine the bomb to one nation and that no-one else would be able to have it. If you stockpiled atomic bombs, that was the way to peace, according to the thinking in those days. This is another matter on which I join issue with Senator Hannan and in respect of which my approach is exactly the opposite to his. The honorable senator said that because Communist China had exploded an atomic bomb and Indonesia was threatening to explode or was on the way to exploding an atomic bomb, this was all the more reason why the nuclear free zone advocated by the Australian Labour Party was completely wrong. I would have thought that it was an indication that we were completely right.

Except for political purposes before an election, I cannot understand criticism of any proposition which would contribute to disarmament. Such a contribution was tho only objective of the proposal for a nuclear free zone. The Labour Party's proposal simply meant that Australia should take the lead in a specified zone to try to prevent, at least in that zone, the use of atomic weapons. Surely if that could be done it would be an advance towards disarmament. Such an agreement had already been reached in relation to Antarctica and was later reached in South America. It was only one quavering step forward, because it is not sufficient to ban one type of armament and fail to take action about others. Disarmament was inherent in the nuclear test ban itself; but Senator Hannan seems to think that we in the Australian Labour Party were traitors to Australia in some way because of our advocacy of a nuclear free zone.

If one follows Senator Hannan's thinking to the end, one comes to the conclusion that we should be advocating atomic bombs for everybody - Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Timor or any place you can think of. If you take Senator Hannan's thinking to a logical conclusion, there is safety in such a proposition. The honorable senator has such a mentality that he takes unto himself all sorts of rights but denies them to anybody else. His attitude seems to be that it is all right for Australia to have the atomic bomb, that nobody else should have it, and that in that way we will have peace. This was the kind of thinking that brought us almost to the brink of war at the very beginning of the cold war. Thank heavens, there seems to be some sort of tolerance or rapprochement building up through experience.

This was something that I hoped this Government would anticipate. I hoped that it would refrain from using this question for the purposes of its defence review. Surely the Liberal Government and the Liberal Party should learn a lesson from current history. We have seen the United States of America and Russia move away from this tricky question of the use of atomic energy. They have settled down, The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said the other day that we have to develop with Communist China the very attitude that Russia and the United States of America have developed towards each other. I hate to use particular words in relation to situations because this is an age of labels and once you use a word, it is inferred that you are a Communist, a Protestant or a Jew or something else. But the word "coexistence " has come into common use and that seems to be what Mr. Hasluck is advocating in relation to Australia and Communist China. He was not giving anything away. He did not say, for example, that there ought to be recognition by Australia of Communist China. He was saying that we should move towards a situation similar to that in which Russia and the United States of America are living.

We have seen an example of this new thinking in the split between the Chinese and Russian brands of Communism. In Russia we have seen a maturity of approach. In effect, the Russians have said: " We do not want to press the old ideology of world revolution because, if that brings on an atomic war, all the progress that has been made by Russia over the years since 1917 will certainly be destroyed while we are destroying somebody else". On the other hand, we see the immaturity of the younger partner, which is saying: " World revolution is still possible. We can promote it in places like Vietnam without becoming involved in a world war." These are the lessons that the cold war has been giving to the world. As I have said, Australia is in the happy position of being able to sit back an benefit from them.

If you throw your mind back to a few years ago, Mr. President, you will remember that, before the general atomic bomb tests, there were people - I heard them in this place - who were saying: " Let us get in the king hit first. Let us drop a bomb first and get a tremendous advantage ". They advocated that action in both the European and Asian zones. Goodness knows what sort of a world it would have been today if we had listened to those voices. One might ask what this defence review is if it is not a political stunt. 1 am sorry if I offend the ears of Senator Hannan by using the word " stunt ", but as a statement like this was made three weeks before an election, the smart ones on the side of the Liberal Party must have anticipated what would be said about it. If the Government would take its courage into its hands - as Senator Hannan said Mr. Curtin did in 1942 - this defence review is the sort of statement it would have made on the eve of a general election. The Government would have said: "For the first time in peacetime, we have to depart from the traditional volunteer system of Army service. We will introduce conscription and put ourselves before the people of Australia for their judgment". That would have been political courage; but the Government has not shown political courage in submitting this review before a Senate election, which cannot alter the Government of the day. If the Government was looking at this review from the point of view of the cold war, surely it could have accepted the truism that what you look upon as desirable and what you believe is desirable is not always attainable. That is something that the Government could learn by examining the course of the cold war over the past few years.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


Senator WILLESEE - Before the suspension of the sitting I had been dealing with the suggestion, to which Senator Paltridge had directed attention, that the overriding reason for the defence review had been the impinging of the cold war on the South East Asia theatre. I said that the Government ought to have been able over the years to do more because Australia has not been greatly involved in the cold war manoeuvres, as have other countries. 1 had reached the point that there is a truism which this Government ought to bc able to recognise, that what we believe is desirable is not always attainable. I think that is something that has been recognised by Russia and America, and has largely brought about the state of affairs that exists between them today.

A few years ago we heard a lot about the policy of containment whereby Communism was to be contained within the borders of certain countries. This was brought about after the war when Russia moved into corridors through which she had been attacked on so many occasions. Her actions alarmed the Western world, and partly because of that the containment policy was born. It was realised after a while that you just cannot put walls around areas, whether they be imaginary or chains of bases, and hope for the best. We thought that was desirable, but we found that it was not attainable. I think there is a similar situation in relation to Indonesia.

From the frequent utterances of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), particularly those in the statement we are discussing, I have no doubt that he has thought it desirable that there ought to be a democratic government in Indonesia, our nearest neighbour, and that all the things that we consider desirable should happen in that country. But nothing that we can do will make that attainable. By offhanded references to Indonesia, or by trying to judge her attitude, we shall not make it any the more attainable. Here we find a paradox and a continuation of the cold war. The Prime Minister certainly gave the cold war roulette wheel a spin the other night, and his comments were underlined by those of Senator Paltridge. If we examine the attitudes to the cold war, we find that almost invariably, when we begin with a scheme to contain our enemies and help our friends, exactly the opposite happens.

I shall refer to only one or two matters because the hour is growing late for this session of the Parliament. I remember debating the Baghdad Pact in this chamber some years ago. Most people from the other side of the chamber were then saying: " If you don't agree with the Baghdad Pact you are pro-Communist because this is all part of the containment policy. This Pact will strengthen our allies and friends, and we ought to accept it". It is easy to be wise after the event, but the effect that the Baghdad Pact had on countries near to us was almost unbelievable. One of the effects of the Pact was to help Pakistan on the question of re-armament. That immediately threw a scare into Afghanistan, which moved towards the Soviet camp. It threw a worse scare into India, which then started to arm itself. India was frightened of Pakistan over the problem of Kashmir, which Senator Cavanagh mentioned recently and which he was able to consider at close quarters when he visited the area a few months ago. Finally, there was a weakening of the endeavours of India. Whether that weakening led to the Communist Chinese attack, no-one will ever know.

If there is an important situation anywhere in the world today, it is the situation in India. Here we have two of the biggest nations in the world, one practising Communism and the other democracy. If ever we should give full marks to a nation for trying to battle on with democracy, we certainly should give them to India. With the trials and tribulations that that country has, it is stilt sticking doggedly to the system of democracy that we espouse. When we set out to help countries by means of the Baghdad Pact we damaged two countries that are within our own Commonwealth of Nations, and we did nothing to lessen the tension between them. In fact, by that very action it appears that we exacerbated the problems that they already had. The more we try to raise walls between nations the more dissension we seem to engender. The same comment applies to the technical rivalries between the East and the West. They have produced in Russia an unequalled degree of technological education and scientific study. Russia has produced a fantastic number of young people who are specially trained in technological subjects. The number of hours they work in a day and the number of days they work in a week to overcome their backwardness in this respect are almost unbelievable. The Russians feared the technical advantages of America and the rest of the Western world, and these advantages exerted pressures on them to make up the leeway.

We come to the situation in Vietnam. We debated this situation a little while ago and agreed on many aspects of the situation. lt is quite wrong for Senator Hannan to scorn us because we say that the final solution in such countries is not a military solution, but is a social, economic and scientific one. He says that that would not keep the Communist hordes out. As I have said, this matter goes back to Mao Tsetung's statement that power grows out of the muzzle of a gun. What do we say to the ordinary Vietnamese who probably has one son fighting for one side and another son fighting for the other side? Probably some of his children have already been burned by napalm bombs. Are we to speak to him about keeping the Communist hordes out, or to tell him that somebody is proCommunist, and so on? When we divide Vietnam, when we go in to defend Vietnam, what do we do finally to our friends and allies? To use the dramatic phrase of Senator Hannan, if we did so to keep out the Communist hordes, it might be said that we had some justification for our actions, but does anybody say that we have succeeded? Can anybody, with' any degree of confidence, point to a bright future in Vietnam?

We say the great and historical Marshall Aid Plan in the early days, which was followed by the Point Four Plan of foreign aid. If ever there was a country in history which disgorged its wealth without asking for anything in return, it is the United States of America. It has given foreign aid to many countries that needed such aid. Yet we find today that even the charitable and the sensible aid that has been given by America and for which nothing has been received in return, has been construed as a means of dominating countries. It has made a battleground of some countries. In Others there are signs with the words "Yankee Go Home " on them. Those things happen in countries which we might think would be nothing but grateful. A cynical approach is being adopted to such aid and the matter becomes complicated.

It would be simple if we could adopt the attitude of Senator Hannan that the goodies are on one side and the baddies on the other, and that the goodies do everything good and the baddies everything bad. He has painted his pictures completely in black and white, with no shade of grey. But such an attitude is only a substitute for thinking. I am afraid that the Government has erred in this way. Instead of analysing the situation and taking advantage of the great wealth of experience that lies before it in order to examine the situation, it has used the information as a substitute for thinking. Isolation has become something of a dirty word. Particularly was that so in America in the early part of the Second World War. This Government has adopted the attitude that if there was a pact which covered a certain area, that was that. But when there has been little criticism of the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty, or of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, the Government has said that that was pro-Communist thinking, that the pacts were there, and that they were the answer to everything. That attitude was underlined by Senator Hannan today. Finally, injustice is met with injustice. Today I was amused to hear Senator Hannan quoting from newspapers and telling us what wonderful things they were. Because something was written in certain newspapers, therefore it was right, but only yesterday he made slighting reference to a newspaper, saying: "This is what you expect when you get an amalgamation between this side of the newspaper world and that side of the newspaper world." So, in the mind of Senator Hannan, we come back to the goodies and baddies. If it is in a paper with which he agrees, it is gospel itself, and if the newspaper does not agree with him he thinks it has no right to exist at all. Unless a newspaper agrees with him 100 per cent., it is obviously wrong. We have seen this thing develop.

As I indicated earlier, Senator Hannan's philosophy is to hate Communism but he perpetuates the very evil of hate in what is known in the world today as McCarthyism. lt is not sufficient to say that because something is in a Communist country it is bad and then, when we have the same thing in our own nation, to give it another name and deny natural justice, as he has done on so many occasions. He told us about what happened in the Australian Labour Party 25 years ago but I did not hear from him a defence of the statement that we are debating today. He said very clearly, and others have said, that foreign policy and defence policy ought to be bipartisan, and that there ought to be continuing policies. If that is so and if the Government believes that, why does it intend to introduce conscription? It does so because it knows just as well as everybody else in the community knows that conscription is something to which the Australian Labour Party will not agree. If there is to be a bipartisan policy, which one government after another can carry on very largely - I do not suggest in detail - in matters of foreign policy and defence, there must be some form of compromise. If people sit around a conference table, they sit there to compromise. If the Government wanted a bipartisan policy, if it genuinely wanted, when it left the treasury bench, a new government to carry on with its form of defence, it would have continued with the traditional system of volunteers for the Australian armed forces and not forced us into the situation of opposing conscription. I move away from this area of the cold war. It is a subject about which we could talk for a long time. I leave the thought that in its attitude towards the cold war the Government is flying in the face of history as we have known it for the past 15 or 20 years.

Senator Wrightsaid that Senator McKenna had made this debate a political argument. Surely Senator Wright realises that when a proposal of this nature is introduced on the eve of an election, nothing more is needed to make it political. If the Government wanted to keep this matter out of the field of politics, the Government could have raised it months ago, or in a few months' time. If it wanted to make the matter political, the really honest thing to do would be to raise the matter on the eve of an election for the House of Representatives, when the people of Australia would be able to express their judgment truly. The people cannot express their judgment truly at a Senate election. Senator Wright went on to say that Senator McKenna had copied the speech of Mr. Calwell, that Senator McKenna's speech was a reiteration of Mr. Calwell's speech. I suggest that if their speeches had disagreed Senator Wright would have had to give way to the leadership of Senator Hannan. Disagreement in the Australian Labour Party was the very thing that the Government wanted when it introduced this proposal. That is precisely why it was introduced. The Government did not realise the unanimity on this very point in the Australian Labour Party. The criticism would have been more valid had one speech flown off at a tangent to the other. If this matter is to be beyond party politics there must be compromise on both sides. The Government must leave a policy that can be supported by its successor.


Senator Hannan asked how one weakened an army by strengthening it. I did not want to go back to the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), who has been having so much said about him by the Labour Party in public and by the Liberal Party in private. Let me refer to his speech on the Budget, of which the speech contained in the document he so proudly circulated to members of the Parliament a few days ago is largely a reiteration, although the former, I feel, was much more strongly said. Dr. Forbes, speaking in the Budget debate on 20th August said, in relation to national service training -

Wc have not introduced it because to do so would bc against the unanimous advice of our military advisers. Why do our military advisers give that advice and why do we accept it? . . . Can we meet the current situation without reintroducing a national service training scheme? This is a matter that our advisers have attempted to assess. Their advice also is partly the result of their assessment of the adequacy of our forces to meet the situation if national service training were introduced. Would the forces be less adequate? Would they be more adequate? Would the introduction of such a scheme make no difference? A proper answer to these question springs from a knowledge of the defects of the national service training scheme.

As to the adequacy of our regular force to meet the requirements of the current cold war situation, let me emphasise that in strength it is down by a few thousand, not by tens of thousands as is some times suggested, lt is down from 28,000 to 24,000. This is hardly a situation calling for Herculean expedients or undue panic. In terms of efficiency, equipment and availability, the Australian Regular Army completely meets the requirements. In relation to the current requirement of the A.R.A. - highly trained, readily available forces - national service has certain military disadvantages . . . In other words the attributes to which we attach the greatest importance - readiness, efficiency, availability, would be substantially reduced by a national service scheme on any worthwhile scale in the circumstances existing at present

He finished his peroration by saying -

It appears to me that some of those who advocate the immediate introduction of national service training are taking undue counsel from their long term fears and advocate action to meet a possible long term requirement, action which would weaken our capacity to deal with the realities of the situation that faces us now and in the short term. Let them consider the possibility that, by doing what they suggest, we might make a certainty of the possible long term adverse situations which we seek to avoid.


Senator Brown - Who said this?


Senator WILLESEE - Dr. Forbes, Minister for the Army. He repeated those statements in the document that we received from him. Senator Hannan, if he has any doubts about how one weakens an army by strengthening it, ought to have a word with Dr. Forbes - that is, if anybody in the Liberal Party is now talking to the Minister. A little while ago we had before us amendments to the Defence Act. I remember Senator Cormack taking umbrage. I did not know that such a cool gentleman could get so excited. He asked why we did not oppose the amendments. Senator Kennelly replied: "What more do you want? The object is to get legislation through. If you can get a unanimous vote, that is good work. That is what we are giving you." Sections of (he Liberal Party were very concerned because we did not oppose that legislation. We agreed with it, because it dealt with a situation in which volunteers could be used by the Government as it thought fit. That was a compromise. That is the type of compromise about which we are talking. We went some of the way with the Government and said: " If you declare a period of danger, you can take these lads and send them overseas." Senator Paltridge was rather underlining this when he very proudly and quite properly spoke of the exploits of the Australian Army. He spoke of places where the troops were throughout South East Asia today and the tremendous effort that they had made. He seemed to miss the point that this service has been rendered by volunteers. What has been achieved - as Minister for Defence, he is very proud of it - has been done by the volunteer system.

If we analyse the Government's proposals in terms of what is required in our neck of the woods, it is obvious that the advice did not come from the Department of External Affairs. I have more faith in the officers of that Department than to think that the advice came from them, because it flies in the face of every development and every form of progress that has been achieved. The general concept has been emphasised by Mr. Hasluck, who said that we must develop with Communist China relationships akin to those that have been developed between Russia and America. Quite obviously, as was expressed in 'he words of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), this advice could not have come from the Government's military advisers. I now come back to Senator Wright's reference to our turning the matter into one of party politics. We are left with the fact that the decision to implement the current proposals could have been made by only one set of people. We are left with the fact that the Government consistently at election time, with reckless disregard for the truth, produces an issue that will create an atmosphere of uncertainty.







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