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Tuesday, 17 November 1964


Senator MORRIS (Queensland) .- Senator Tangneyhas just told the Senate that the Labour Party does not care how much is spent on defence so long as it is spent wisely. I believe that is her very definite opinion, but it is certainly not the opinion of the Labour Party as a political organisation in Australia. Very often members of the Labour Party have proved that their views are quite contrary to those expressed by Senator Tangney. I do not wish to recount all the things that have been said earlier. We have been reminded time and time again by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in his policy speeches and election speeches of his opposition to the amount of money that is being spent, on defence. He has gone further and has said that should the people of Australia elect the Labour Party to office, a great deal less would be spent on defence and the saving would be devoted to other purposes.

I would not for one moment cast doubt on the sincerity of Senator Tangney. I know that she means what she says, but she has not expressed the true opinion of the Labour Party as it is available to all of us. It is rather tragic that the Labour Party does not know where it is going in defence matters. This is evident in pronouncements that are made by members of the Opposition in every debate on defence matters. A member of the Opposition will say one thing and the next speaker from the ranks of the Opposition will say something quite contrary. Each expresses his own views, but their views are so diametrically opposed that the Labour Party as a whole does not know where it is going.

Senator Tangneyalso said that the Labour Party did not object to the establishment of the United States communication station in Western Australia at North West Cape. I believe that she does not object to its establishment and realises its value. I shall quote from a document which I have. It is an authoritative document which contradicts what the honorable senator said a few minutes ago. It states -

In October 1962 the A.L.P. Federal Executive endorsed a resolution which was produced by Mr. Chamberlain and his dominated Western Australian branch of the Australian Labour Party, which read: "The Australian Labour Party is opposed to any base being built in Australia that could be used for the manufacture, firing or control of any nuclear missiles or vehicles capable of carrying nuclear missiles." It was this same branch, again headed by Mr. Chamberlain, which fought to stave A.L.P. acceptance of the establishment of the radio base.

This is the branch in Senator Tangney's home State. The document I have states -

It was on a vote of 19 to 17 that Labour agreed to the base and then on conditions of renegotiation.


Senator Tangney - What paper is that?


Senator MORRIS - This is a document. I can get the honorable senator the authoritive statement. I could show the honorable senator exactly from where these quotations have been obtained. The paper I have in my hand is a document of my own preparation.


Senator Cohen - The honorable senator said that it was an authoritative document.


Senator MORRIS - I did. I have quoted certain extracts.


Senator Cohen - What is the document?


Senator MORRIS - I am sorry, I cannot tell the honorable senator the name of the document at the moment. However, he would know it, because these are historical records. These matters are on record in the journals of this country. All honorable senators know they are there. I have read them over and over again. I cannot remember the names of the documents unless I bring them with me. I shall continue the quotation -

Only one vote saved the Labour Party from an outright condemnation of Australia's act in allowing the United States this radio facility. Nothing that has happened since indicates any change of attitude by the left wing dominated Opposition.


Senator Cavanagh - I rise to a point of order. Under the Standing Orders I ask that Senator Morris table the document from which he is quoting.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - The honorable senator has raised his point of order at the wrong stage. He should do so at the end of Senator Morris's speech.


Senator MORRIS - The pause has given me the opportunity to refer to the actual document. I wish to refer to the " Western Sun ", a newpaper over which a great deal of control is exercised by Mr. Chamberlain in Western Australia. This is what was said in the " Western Sun " by Mr. Chamberlain, speaking again about the North West Cape naval communication base -

No current State or Federal legislation gives sanction to what the United States Navy proposes to do. Nor would public opinion in this country allow a Government to ratify such acts by legislation.

He went on -

The legal loots available to the Trades and Labour Council and the ultimate big stick of industrial sanctions will assist it in its fight to reject a move quite alien to our Australian way of life.

That is an extract from the " Western Sun " newspaper. Some honorable senators probably will be more familiar with the newspaper than I am. I think those statements reveal the cleavage within the Labour Party. The party has no unified approach to the problem of the defence of Australia, and that is why it always gets into such a mess. Labour Party members really do not know what their party's ideal is. 1 think 1 can go even further than that. 1 preface what I am about to say now by saying that 1 think every member of this chamber and of the House of Representatives is most interested in this subject. I have heard at least a portion of every speech that has been made in this chamber, because I have been interested in what honorable senators have had to say. I have also gone to the trouble of reading most of the speeches made in the other place. I do not intend to refer to the speeches except to say that the debate in this chamber has certainly been on a much higher level than the debate elsewhere. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place was contradicting himself throughout his speech. 1 am perfectly certain that in their speeches about 45 per cent, of Labour spokesmen approached this problem from the point of view of their basic ideology, which is fundamentally different from ours. Another 45 per cent, of the speeches of Labour spokesmen have been directed to the Senate election campaign; I do not think anybody will deny that. The remainder of the speeches consisted more or less of irrelevancies. I have referred to a basic difference in ideologies and I should like to explain myself a little further. The first 45 per cent, of Labour spokesmen to whom I have referred have shown clearly that their attitude towards defence springs from a desire to remain peacefully neutralist. I think that sums up their contributions to the debate. They earnestly desire - they are sincere about this - to remain peacefully neutralist. Members on the Government side realise the fallacy of that approach. We realise that an approach such as that to the question of the defence of Australia at this point of time, under the circumstances which exist, would be suicidal.

Unfortunately those who adhere to the philosophy of peaceful neutralism forget that the world is an entirely different place from what it was even 15 years ago. The time taken to travel from one place to another has dwindled almost to vanishing point. The dangers that exist today have arisen because of new methods of transport, greater mobility and associated factors. In the days of World War I isolation was one of the best defences that any nation could have, but it became much less important during World War II. Today, tenchnically speaking, there is no such thing as isolation as far as defence is concerned. We are as open to attack in Australia today as were peoples separated only by artificial borders in the previous two world wars. Unfortunately, Labour cannot forget its old theories and its old approach. It cannot become modern; it cannot realise that we are living in a changing world. I do not suppose there is one person in Australia who does not sincerely desire to avoid war. None of us want it. Heavens above, we would be crazy if we desired war for war's sake. But we must realise - and I believe the Government does realise - that we have been served notice over the past 15 years of the intentions of those who have an ideology which is foreign to ours. It is an ideology which is atheistic and materialistic and its adherents want to conquer the world. I am not just raising the bogy of Communism. Honorable senators know that what I am saying is true. This notice has been served on us, and if we do not recognise it we are very foolish.

Fortunately, honorable senators on this side of the chamber, notwithstanding that they want peace are realistic. Peace is the greatest thing we can hope for for ourselves, our children and our children's children. Senator Cavanagh spoke on this subject, and I accept that he sincerely believes that peace is the greatest thing we can have. But we cannot have it just by hoping for it when peoples separated from us by only a few miles of sea are becoming stronger and stronger and are motivated by the idea of spreading their philosophy throughout the world. It is just being blind and foolish to say: "We know they have this motive, but they will not hurt us." A lot of people have said that in the last 15 years, and a lot of people have been ruined for saying and believing it. Whilst we all want a peace, the worst philosophy that can be held by anybody in Australia is the philosophy that springs from a desire to remain peacefully neutralist. To act on such a philosophy is tantamount, I believe, to committing suicide.

I should like to move on to a much talked of aspect of the problem facing us today. Why is there now an urgent need for a build up of our defences? Frankly, I. find completely incomprehensible statements to the effect that there is no such need. On 25 th February we heard in this chamber a speech from the Governor-General about the problems and the troubles which face us in this part of the world. We were told in the clearest of terms Chat expenditure on defence was becoming ever greater. We were warned that if the world situation continued to get worse, much more money would need to be spent on defence. That was on 25th February, at the beginning of this session of the Parliament. Then in the Treasurer's Budget Speech, and in the similar speech that was made by the Minister representing the Treasurer in this chamber, we were again told that subsequent to the period that had been referred to earlier there had been a further build up of defence expenditure. I am not sure of the exact figures, but I think the statement that was made by the Treasurer was to the effect that defence expenditure had been increased at that point of time by some 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, compared with what our expenditure was three or four years ago. That was the next warning.

When the Estimates were debated, all honorable senators were issued with the booklet which is entitled the "Defence Report 1964". I trust that all honorable senators have read it. There again, a clear warning is issued. On page 5, under the heading "Australian Defence", this report begins -

The financial year 1964-65 will see further substantial development in the expansion of Australia's defence forces. The amount provided for defence in the Estimates is again increased and is now almost £300 million.

The booklet explains in quite considerable detail the constant build up of defence expenditure. There has been, throughout the whole of this year in this chamber, debate after debate in which opportunity after opportunity has been afforded honorable senators to appreciate the growing seriousness of our defence position. I believe it was in 1963 when a widespread review was made of our defence forces. Early this year, we were told again by the Government that there was to be another defence review. The review which we are debating today has been made available to us according to my estimate, in a period of one or two weeks, but there is not an honorable senator in this chamber who does not know that this review represents the culmination, not of hours or days of work, but literally of many, many weeks of work.

How in the name of fortune can any person say that these defence proposals are not merely an expansion of the proposals which have been made before, in practically all instances? There are one or two things I will refer to which are different. But, in the main, these proposals provide for an increase in quantum of purchase and in personnel. They do not represent - and this is the vital point - a change from one way of thinking to an entirely different way of thinking. The defence policy of this Government has been following consistently the one course. If any honorable senator in this chamber tries to deny that fact, then I would say that all he is doing is demonstrating that he has not paid full attention to the debates which have taken place here. There has been a steady movement forward, in many instances, towards the objectives which were stated last year, the year before, and the year before that. We are moving forward towards an increase in our defence expenditure and the provision of greater defence measures, and are not departing from the general procedure. Senator Ormonde, who is shaking his head, knows that this is true because I believe that of all those at whom I look when I speak, he is probably one who pays more attention to debates in this chamber than does any other honorable senator. He would know that what I am saying is right.

In my own amateur way, I have tried to study this question. I have tried to recognise the method of approach by those who are guiding the destinies of this nation. I believe that they have looked at this matter not as children but as adults. Unfortunately, there has been too much childish thinking in relation to this problem. Happily, the Government has looked at it from the adult point of view. Having done so, the Government has asked itself: " What is the type of danger that Australia faces? Is it global war? Is it a brushfire war where troubles are breaking out in all the islands near to Australia?" Honorable senators must recognise the fact that the Government is able to secure intelligence information which is of a highly secret nature. All honorable senators know that this is so, because all governments inevitably do so. The

Government becomes possessed of intelligence reports the contents of which are not available to any person who is not a member of the Cabinet. The Government is not able to tell us the details of the intelligence reports which it receives because it would be ludicrous to do so. But the Government must act on those reports. When one remembers what has happened during the last two years and notes the steady movement forward along a path planned by this Government, one recognises that the intelligence reports have been well studied by the Government.

It is obvious to the layman - and I class myself a layman - who does not know the contents of the intelligence summaries of the specific situation that the Government has decided that Australia's greatest danger is not of the global war type. If I recall the matter correctly, this opinion was included in the statement which we are now debating. Although these are not the actual words, in sense this is what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said: "The fear or danger of global war has receded but the danger of the smaller brushfire problem which is a very great one for Australia has become worse and worse as each month has passed this year." We do not need intelligence reports to recognise that this is so because we can see this ourselves if we study what has been happening. We have only to read the newspapers. I will not quote Press reports, but we have seen news items to the effect that an arms boost in Indonesia is taking place and that country is arming very heavily. We read that various countries which have nationals in Indonesia are advising many of them to return to their homelands because of the build up of danger in this part of the world. If we have any intelligence at all, we must be able to see from the outside to a small degree that this is so. The Government sees the situation to a much greater degree. Knowing the situation, it has decided what our greatest danger is. I believe the Government has decided that the danger facing us is not global. I say that after having listened to the speech delivered by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge).

I think the next question that the Government has asked itself - and it is inevitable that this question should be asked - is: "Should the situation in the Pacific north of Australia get worse, what is our task?

Are we to fight? If we are threatened, are we to participate in isolation or are we to participate in conjunction with our allies? " The answer to those questions is perfectly obvious. I am happy to say that we have very strong and powerful allies, and that there is no doubt that the Government is co-operating with those allies in the defence of the Pacific.

It should be realised by everybody that if we are to act in concert with our allies in the Pacific area, we must plan our strategy and co-operation with those allies. How stupid would it be if four countries allied to operate in a certain theatre of war, independently built up the type of defences they wanted and left empty other avenues of vital importance. If Australia and each of its allies did that, not working with the others and not deciding upon a combined strategy, we would not have the overall strength to fight and resist if dangers were forced upon us. So obviously the strategy between our allies and ourselves is plain.

Here I come to a matter that has really caused me surprise. Apparently there are many people who believe we must look at the question of defence in isolation and try to give all-round cover through the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force so that we can protect our interests in the South West Pacific in isolation. That was said by at least one member of the Opposition. I had this in mind when I said we should look at this problem as adults and not as children. If there is a childish approach to the problem, surely that is it. We in Australia - our authorities and our Governments - are planning not in isolation but in co-operation. The final point of that section of my argument is this: While I have found that the Government keeps us very well informed so far as it can on these matters, we would be childish if we expected the Government to disclose all the details of the strategy which is planned to meet certain problems should they arise. Two wars have taught us that it is vital to keep from an enemy or a potential enemy as much information about your actions as you can. While we are examining this position as a Parliament, not as a government, we do not know the full facts of the danger. To condemn the Government and its methods from a situation of ignorance - and that is what it amounts to - is too fatuous for words.

This brings me to the curious attacks that have been made on the Government concerning the strike and reconnaissance bomber, the Fill A. I recall very clearly the complete change that occurred in overseas theatres of war during World War II when the strength of the allied aircraft was brought to bear on the enemy. I recall vividly also having read a thorough examination of the problems that faced Great Britain in the years preceding the Second World War. Senator Cormack referred to these problems yesterday. I summarise this point by saying that if Great Britain had been armed with the aircraft which were available in the two years before the Second World War, at her greatest point of danger she would have had obsolescent or obsolete machinery to oppose the greatest might ever been built up in this world. It was our salvation that the Spitfire came to the point of use, as the finest aircraft in the world, at the most critical period of our lives. 1 think of that when I consider the Fill A strike reconnaissance aircraft.

I have discussed this matter with many people and have asked questions of some who are infinitely more knowledgeable than I am. I have said to them that I have heard from members of the Opposition that the Canberra bomber is obsolete. All my reading indicates that this is not true. I have asked: "Is it true that the Canberra bomber is obsolete?" All authorities will tell you quite definitely that it is not true. Perhaps you could apply the word obsolescent to the Canberra bomber, and that might be reasonably correct. So let us assume that it is obsolescent. The next question is this: Is there in the world today an aircraft better than the Canberra which could fill in until we get the FI IIA? The answer I have received and which I believe to be correct is that there is no aircraft which could fill the gap between the time we ceased to use the Canberra and began to have the use of the greatest strike and reconnaissance aircraft in the world. It is quite easy for people to criticise the Government and ask: Why are we waiting for this aircraft? Why does not the Government do something? Heavens above, you cannot get the most up to date aircraft off the hook. They must be ordered. Modern aircraft are not the machines of 20 years ago. They are most complex. I think it is to the credit of this Government that it has planned thoroughly in every sphere so that at the point which it recognises to be the point of danger, we will be armed with the very latest units in the world. That is good defence planning. It is people who can plan who earn my admiration and the admiration of Australia.

I turn now to the selective call-up. I remember an honorable senator on the Opposition side saying that they had given away every type of selective call-up in Great Britain. I do not suppose that there would be a greater authority on this subject in the world than Sir Richard Gale, who is a former Deputy Supreme Commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Europe. In 1958 he came out of retirement to succeed Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery in the N.A.T.O. post of Deputy Supreme Commander. He is a man who knows this problem. Last Saturday he was asked what he thought about the proposal for selective training, and what Great Britain thought about H. He said that from his point of view he believed that Australia was doing the right thing. He went on to say, which is infinitely more important, that if England desired to build up her forces beyond the present capacity, undoubtedly it would be called upon to adopt the same method.


Senator Ormonde - The British are not doing that now.


Senator MORRIS - No, because they do not need to do it. We were not doing it six months ago because we did not need to do so. But the need exists today. I take a pretty dim view of the way in which many honorable senators opposite have tried to make capital out of part of a statement made by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes). I think it has been grossly unfair to him.

Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.


Senator MORRIS - Prior to the suspension I had started to speak about a number of things that had been said about statements made by the Minister for the Army. It had been stated that he was radically opposed to compulsory training and quickly changed his view. This is most unfair to him. What he did say, as I recall it - I do not remember the exact words, as one does not - was that all authorities were opposed to the principle of universal compulsory training at that point of time. Anybody who suggests that the proposal now envisaged is universal compulsory training is rather off the beam. That is altogether a different matter. I can understand why the authorities did say that universal compulsory training would be disorganising. With an intake of many, many thousands at stated periods, a huge number of instructors would be required. This naturally would disorganise to a very great degree the Australian Regular Army. The numbers to be asked for under this scheme are altogether a different matter. They will be merely building the Army to the numbers that we hoped for and expected.

I should like to make a few comments about why some of our young men have not volunteered to the present. In my view, the reason is that they have not been impressed by the urgency that undoubtedly exists. Without any rancour or bad feeling, I say that the Australian Labour Party's expressions of its views in relation to defence, and constant reiteration that we do not need to spend so much on defence, have left in the minds of a large section of the public a belief that the matter is not as urgent as they had first thought. Therefore, decisions which they might have made to volunteer have been deferred. I think the knocking policy on the need for defence has been responsible more than anything else for the lack of numbers that had been hoped for.

I should most strongly discount some of the suggestions that have been made as to the reasons for the lack of volunteers. I listened with considerable interest to Senator McClelland's statement that it would be very difficult to get recruits into the Army when they did not have complete uniforms. He said that some of the members of the Citizen Military Forces could not get a new pair of boots and others complained about issues of socks and that sort of thing. I completely misjudge the calibre and character of the young men of Australia if in fact matters such as that could deter them from doing what they believed was their duty. I have seen, and I know that most other honorable senators have seen, our troops putting up with the most severe disadvantages and difficulties of service, but doing it cheerfully and willingly because they felt the need was there for them to do it. I am quite sure that that is a fact. Mr. President, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.







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