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Tuesday, 17 November 1964


Senator McKELLAR (New South Wales) . - First, I congratulate the Government upon bringing this measure before us and particularly I congratulate the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge). One realises how hard he has had to work over the past few months on the defence measures that have been placed before us in the past two or three days. I speak as one who has been critical up to this point of the defence measures previously undertaken by the Government. Therefore, I am all the more pleased to be able to extend these congratulations to him now. I propose to emphasise some of the matters that were outlined in the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) and to make some criticisms of remarks that have been made during the defence debates. I shall give some particulars of the position as it affects the United States of America.

The Minister stated -

We have also decided that the call-up of full time students of the universities and similar institutions will be deferred, as a general rule, at least until they have acquired their primary qualification. As I have mentioned, many will be graduating in their 21st year. No immediate statement can be made about the period for which other students will be deferred. So many different types of courses exist, and the motives for taking these courses are many. These different types of cases will be considered on their merits. Apart from apprentices and students, there will be no deferment of call-up on occupational grounds.

I hope that Senator Kennelly will note that statement. The Minister continued -

The present Bill is, of course, to be seen as part of a total plan. The importance we attach to the place of the Citizen Military Forces in the Army as a whole needs no emphasising.

I am particularly pleased to note that reference to the C.M.F. Then the Minister said -

For this reason, the Government intends using the national service scheme as a means of encouraging them to enlist in the C.M.F.

I pause there to remind honorable senators that on several occasions I have emphasised the role of the C.M.F. in the defence of this country in past years, and in the years to come provided it is given the opportunity. The Minister further said -

The Government proposes to defer from call-up those who are at the time of registration members of the C.M.F. and have given at least one year's effective service in the C.M.F., providing that they continue to give efficient service for an overall period of five years.

Next, we propose to defer from call-up those who, before the ballot to which 1 will refer later, have been accepted for service in the C.M.F. and have undertaken to serve for six years and who continue to give efficient service during that period.

Further on the Minister said -

What I have said about our intentions on the subject of deferment from call-up brings me back to the point 1 made earlier, that liability to call-

This is important - will continue to age 26 and in special cases to age 30. So men will not escape call-up simply because they have been deferred for a year of two.

That is important, because there may be some who think that, by putting up a good story and getting deferment, they will be relieved of any obligation in the following few years. The Minister has said emphatically that that will not be the case. The Minister then said -

It will be apparent from the figures given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that each 20 years age group comprises many more young men than we are proposing to call up.

That is understandable. It will be noted that this problem has been attacked in a practical manner and that it is not proposed to call up willy nilly everybody who reaches the age of 20 years. Provision has been made for deferment on the grounds that I have already mentioned. The Minister said-

There will be just no room for favouritism or influence.

That statement is very important, lt should dispel the fears of many parents who think that because somebody knows somebody else he will be able to exercise some favouritism and obtain deferment or perhaps exemption from call-up. Unfortunately there have been instances of this kind; but fortunately, there have not been very many.

The Minister then went on to describe the method of the call-up. He said -

Following registration there will be a ballot based on dates of birth. Marbles corresponding to the days in the year up to the number needed to produce the required number of men will be drawn the Department calculates that 10,000 men will have to be dealt with individually by the Department to allow for deferments, medical rejections and so on in order to produce 5,000 men for callup.

In other words, the proportion will be two to one. That is not excessive, as I propose to establish by mentioning what has happened in the United States of America. Then the Minister proceeded to say -

In this case, assuming it were a year's registration, 36 marbles would be drawn, that is one tenth of the year's days. Those whose birthdays correspond with the marbles drawn will be ballotted in and thereafter considered by the Department, interviewed as necessary, and medically examined. From these, the number required for the callup will be provided.

So much for the Russian roulette, as the proposed method has been described by people who ought to know a lot better and who have been very derogatory about the means to be adopted for calling up these people. The Minister went on to say -

The aim will be to call up men for service within six months of their registration. At least until an announcement to the contrary is made, those who are not ballotted in will be deferred idenfinitely.

Provision has been made in regard to employment and so on. The Minister said in this regard - the Government intends to bring down a Bill in the next session to extend to national servicemen the code recently written into the Defence Act, with such modifications as are needed to meet the case of national servicemen who are called up for two years continuous service.

The Minister pointed out that, as things stand, a regular soldier who has served in special areas may qualify for benefits under specified conditions for repatriation cover and, most importantly, war service homes entitlement. The national servicemen who serve is such areas will be similarly eligible.

At this early stage in my speech I emphasise the following passage in the Minister's speech -

We seek for nothing better than to live in peace with our neighbours.

One of the means of ensuring that we live in peace with our neighbours is to see that we are strong. Over the past few years many countries have adopted a form of pacifism of non-aggression only to find that the principles which they espoused, worthy though they be, have led them into a very unfortunate situation.

Time and time again within the last couple of days the Opposition has emphasised what was done when Labour was in office. If I interpret the statements of the Opposition correctly, the only alternative open to us is to rely on a Labour government. Let us see what has happened in the past under Labour administration. I do not think it is my job here continually to bait the Opposition; I do not think that forms part of the duty of a Government senator at all. But I do think that when such claims are made over and over again something should be done to combat them and that the truth should be told. I propose to do that very briefly. Let us look at Labour's record. What happened after World War II in regard to Manus Island? We had an opportunity there to retain something which would have been very valuable in the defence of this country. Who was responsible for our losing it? There is no need to state the answer; it is quite obvious. I remind honorable senators that the United States of America ceased to exchange important secrets concerning the defence of that country and its allies because it could not trust the Labour Government in Australia. We know of the famous letter that was written by Dr. Evatt to Molotov.


Senator Ormonde - Oh, no.


Senator McKELLAR - These are some of the things that have occurred. Honorable senators opposite have risen in the last couple of days and have told us what the Labour Government did in the defence of Australia. I am stating some of the things that happened. What happened when it was proposed that the American communication centre should be established at North West Cape? The Australian Labour Party offered very strong opposition. Time and again we have seen good measures designed to protect Australia opposed, I think, by only a section of the Opposition. But they have been opposed, and unfortunately it occurs repeatedly. It seems that it is possible for a small minority to influence the majority. I know that honorable senators opposite, possibly without exception are just as concerned as I am about the defence of Australia. Regrettably it seems that there are others who control them and honorable senators opposite are not able to do as they wish.

The Opposition has often made the suggestion that Australia should rely on the United Nations Organisation. I have been fortunate enough to see the United Nations in operation. As a member of the Senate I had the opportunity to represent this Government at a United Nations conference two years ago. It was the time when the Cuba incident occurred. I was present when the Security Council met to deal with the situation in Cuba. It was one of the rare occasions that the United Nations - particularly the Security Council - achieved a very desirable objective in a short space of time. Nine or 10 nations are represented in the Security Council and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has the right of veto, which it has exercised on many occasions. If a dispute which arises does not come before the General Assembly, it is brought before the Security Council. The Council discusses the dispute and decides on the action to be taken. If a dispute is brought before the General Assembly it may be debated for weeks. If Australia is subjected to aggression by another country and the matter is referred to the United Nations, we will be overrun by the invaders in the time which will elapse before a decision is reached by the United Nations. By that time it will be a case of, "Very sorry, too late, cannot help it". That is not fantasy derived from imagination. It is one of the facts of life. It is ludicrous to think that we should rely on the United Nations for the defence of this nation.


Senator Cavanagh - Does the honorable senator say that it is useless?


Senator McKELLAR - No, I did not say it was useless. I said it was ludicrous. The Opposition is opposed to conscription of our young people for service overseas. Surely we will not do justice to them or do what is best for them if we deny them an oppor tunity to fit themselves for the defence of their country. The circumstances today are very different from those of 30 years ago. Methods of warfare were very different then from the present methods. Today because of the fast means of air travel, a distance of several thousand miles is no deterrent to an enemy. It is quite obvious that the defence of Australia may well begin outside Australia, in the first instance. That is why it is necessary that in peace time we should have our young people trained and ready to go if the necessity arises.

I turn now to the allegation that the Government's proposal is an election stunt. 1 do not for one moment think that more than half a dozen members of the Opposition in the Senate or in the other place really believe that allegation is true. They do not believe it any more than I do. Let us consider the foolishness of the suggestion. Is any government just prior to going to the people for a Senate election stupid enough to ask them for big sacrifices and think that it will thus gain votes? It is too stupid for words. I repeat that there are probably not six members of the Opposition either here or in another place who really believe that allegation.

I believe that the Government is to be congratulated for placing before the people what will be required of them in the years that lie ahead. The Government is fortified in presenting this proposal to the people because we know perfectly well that they are willing and anxious to accept their responsibilities and undergo the sacrifices which will be necessary if we are to hold this country.

I come to the claim that the sons of farmers and graziers will be clamouring for exemption from national service training. The history of voluntary enlistment and national service training has been the same in Australia as Lt has in the United States of America. The young men who work on the land are the first to enlist. Perhaps this is brought about by the nature of their calling. It is an independent occupation and it may be that they develop a closer kinship with the soil and with their country. Whatever may be the reason, the fact remains that the young men who work on farms are the first to respond to any call by the nation. I am quite convinced that they will be the first to respond to any call made in the future.

Honorable senators opposite have asked why it is necessary to introduce national service training, because the voluntary system is good enough. Lt has been proved that the voluntary system is not good enough. During the past few months it has been stated over and over agan, even by top advisers, that it may become necessary to provide a system of selective conscription for national service training, or whatever we wish to call it, if the voluntary system of recruitment does not provide sufficient numbers. It has not provided sufficient numbers and the Government has been forced to adopt the measure we are discussing tonight.

It has been said that those who need national service training most will not receive it. I have no doubt that some will miss out. That is inevitable, but I believe that the majority of the long-haired bodgie types who need a haircut, a wash and something to put on their feet will receive national service training. Above all, what they need is the discipline that they will receive. After they have received training they will make quite good soldiers, airmen or sailors. There is nothing wrong at heart with these young people. All they need is to be given the chance to do something for their country and they will respond. I remind honorable senators now, as I reminded them on the first day that I came into the Senate, that just prior to World War II there was much criticism of the young men of London and Great Britain. They were described as lounge lizards, as effeminate, and as other things. In a few short months those same young men were fighting the Battle of Britain and by their deeds have joined the ranks of the heroes of Great Britain. If given the opportunity our young Australians could do the same thing.

Recently a section of the students at a Sydney university staged a demonstration against national service training. Unfortunately, the noisy minority in these places seems by its actions to place a label on the majority. I think that happened in the instance to which I refer. Young people in our universities today are undergoing voluntary national training in the Army, Navy and the Air Force and are doing a very good job. However, some of these mis-, guided young people have decided to stage demonstrations. Because they are in the minority I am not very worried about them. Surely we all agree that our youth today is in a very fortunate category. It has never known a depression and, in the main, it has not known a shortage of money, food or clothing. Our young people have had comforts and conveniences that 20 years ago were undreamt of by their parents. Now we are going to call upon the same young people to make some sacrifice if necessary. In some cases it may mean - I trust that it will not - the sacrifice of their, lives. They will be called upon to sacrifice some of the good times they are having and some of their leisure. Instead of running about in motor cars during the week end, they will have to do some duties in camp. It is not going to be a great hardship on them at present, and it is going to be of very great benefit to them in the future. Yesterday Senator Prowse gave us an illustration of the thinking of some young Country Party people in Western Australia, who advocated a system of selective national training. I welcome this. It is only one instance of the feeling of many young people, irrespective of their political leanings, throughout the length and breadth of Australia.

I was quite concerned to read about a prominent Methodist minister in Sydney, of whom Senator Prowse made mention, suggesting that we should devote more attention to giving assistance under the Colombo Plan instead of providing assistance of the kind we are discussing. That is the trouble with so many of these woolyheaded people. I make no apology for describing them as such. If their common sense were only given a chance to work, instead of their mouths, this country would be a lot better off. We have seen what happened as a result of the United States of America handling out aid right, left and centre to various nations. Instead of getting the gratitude of the people to whom she gave this aid, she got their contempt. This surely is evidence that the plan suggested by this minister would not be worth two ups. We also have the case of India. She adopted a policy of non-aggression and pacifism. She decided she was going to live by herself and would not lift a hand against anybody. What happened when China went into India? India had straight away to approach the United States and Britain for military aid, and now she has bad to embark on a policy of defending herself. It is just too silly for words for these people to get up and talk in the manner in which they have done. They are not giving any help to their country; indeed they are doing it a great disservice.

We have been told tonight, and on other occasions, that it is no good bringing in conscripts with volunteers, that they will not mix. That is too stupid for words; they do mix. I had conscripts and volunteers in my own squadron in World War II. As I mentioned here just recently, in the space of a few short weeks the esprit de corps of the conscripts was just as good as that of those who had volunteered. This measure has been brought in because of sheer, plain, stark necessity. No government wants to bring in measures such as this. We have been criticised in the past for not doing enough. Now when a measure of this nature is brought in - and the majority of people are saying that it should be brought in - we find that some of the carping critics are saying: " We do not think you should have done this." It is the old story. Everybody should be prepared to suffer some sacrifice, but not the individual. I wish to refer to page 1730 of a previous "Hansard" in which the No. 3 candidate on the Australian Labour Party ticket for the Senate election in New South Wales, Mr. Haylen, said that Australia should have no troops in Malaya.I wonder whether he still thinks that? I wonder whether he thinks that if he says this when he goes out, hoping to be elected to this Senate on5th December, that the people are going to return him.


Senator Cohen - Mr. Haylen will be elected all right.


Senator McKELLAR - It will not be any good for Australia if he is. I hope that he will not be elected. If there is anything I can do to prevent him from coming to this chamber, I am prepared to do it.

I want to refer briefly to an annual report of the Department of Selective Services of the United States of America. This report was made to the American Congress in 1962. I am quoting from pages 30 and 31 of that report. It is illuminating in view of the fact that the Government has been criticised, and some derisive remarks have been made, because the Army has had so many rejections. This report states -

The fact is that the Department of Defence requisitions upon the Selective Service Board on inductees-

Those are the people going in - have been almost exclusively Army requests and has caused many young men to exercise a choice and enlist in other Services. To a marked degree this supports the high enlistment rate of the Ah* Force and the Navy.

That is because of this selectiveness. The report continues -

It is an interesting commentary that a high induction rate stimulates enlistment, and as the induction rate falls, so does the enlistment rate.

I think that our system could very well have the same effect. If we have these chaps coming in as conscripts, if you like, at a fairly high rate, we then will have large numbers of volunteers as well. The report further discloses that the number delivered to the Board over a period was 4.4 million and the number not found to be qual fied for various reasons was 1.6 million. The Minister has recently given the figures in relationship to the Australian Army and has also given some of the reasons why those who attempted to enlist were not qualified. The failure rate in America was 38 per cent. According to the note I have, this referred to the period from 1948 to 1956. In other words, during a period of 8 years 4.4 million were called up and 1.6 million did not qualify for various reasons.

I would pause here to say that these men constituted what could be regarded as the cream of American manhood, yet there was a failure rate of about 38 per cent. In the period from 1st July 1961 to 1st July 1962, 656,000 were called up and 303,000 failed - a failure rate of 46 per cent. or almost two to one. There has been talk about the deferments that will be asked for in the farming areas. In America the lowest rejection rate occurred in the farming areas. General Omar Bradley was called before the committee in May 1948 and he gave the following evidence -

We began mobilisation of the National Guard-

That is the equivalent of our C.M.F. - in 1940, but it was 1942 before we could commit any of these men to action.

That is a period of two years. The Government proposes to have a period of two years training under its system.

At this point I want to emphasise that the status of American servicemen has been deliberately raised. As I mentioned only recently in the Senate, I believe that something of this nature would be of benefit in Australia. I understand that in America almost daily broadcasts are made to the effect that such and such a unit is serving at a particular place. The job that these young men are doing is brought before the American public. I think it is fair enough that the same thing should be done here, and I hope that it will be. These men are doing something for the welfare of the nation and what they are doing should be recognised.

I propose very briefly to deal further with the American report. General Dahl.quist, giving evidence on behalf of the Defence Department - this is mentioned on page 6493 of the same publication - was answering questions about the intelligence rate of inductees. It appears that the average intelligence rate for the selectees is 100. The following is what General Dahl.quist had to say -

We could take men with a lower score of 80, which is the Army base rate, but you will have to add more men to our total numbers. That is, we will have more men in our guard houses.

In other words, General Dahlquist said, in effect: "We would not be getting the good type of man if we were going to reduce the level from 100 to 80 as we would if the level was left at 100." The General was asked this question -

You expect, General, to take the cream of the crop of young manhood?

The General replied -

We are willing to take men with an average of 80. When you go below 80, the proportion of men who cannot serve effectively rises very sharply.

I think that is only to be expected. There has been a lot of criticism of the standards which have been agreed upon by the Army for admitting men into its services. But I am told that the present standard is the same as was decided upon when the Australian Labour Party was in office some 20 years ago. The standard has not been altered. After all, there is a limit to the low rate of learning, if I can put it that way, below which the Army cannot go. I think it would be a feasible proposition to raise labour battalions, or some battalions of that kind, and to put in them men who would be fitted to do jobs which would not require persons possessing high educational standards.

Senator Kennellychallenged us to name any enemy against whom we would be likely to employ these troops. I know very well that he does not expect us to do so. Australia has not any enemy at this point of time to whom we could go tomorrow and say: " We are going to send troops against you." After all, that action would be equivalent to a declaration of war. I do not think that the challenge was made in a serious manner. I do welcome the statement made by Senator Kennelly that in the event of war the Opposition would be on the Government's side. It was hardly necessary for him to tell us that because, after all, although we have our political differences here, when the chips are down we are all Australians and all British, fighting for the one cause. That is as it should be and always will be, I trust.

Senator Kennellyalso said that the avenues of recruiting available through the voluntary system had not been exhausted. Surely I have given evidence that the voluntary system of enlistment has been found to be at least unsatisfactory; otherwise, the measure about which we are talking tonight would not be before the Senate. It is far better to engage men who volunteer, provided enough men volunteer for service. But not enough volunteers were coming forward. The honorable senator knows that. Senator Kennelly made the suggestion also that, in introducing these defence measures, the Government was concerned only with retaining its majority in the Senate. I know perfectly well that the honorable senator does not mean that because he has the highest appreciation of the men in this Government. It would be wrong to think for one moment that all they are concerned about is looking after their jobs at this time.

I wish now to address myself to something which I have mentioned before. A long term defence project in Australia must inevitably be tied to immigration. It is very pleasing indeed to see that this year some 70,000 Britons are expected to come out here. Unless we can build up our population irrespective of what we may do with our own defence forces, it is going to be very difficult indeed to provide a defence force of the nature that we feel we need. I recognise that we are in the closing hours of this Parliament. As it has been agreed that the number of speakers on each side shall be limited, I propose to conclude my remarks by congratulating the Government once again on bringing down the measure that we are discussing tonight.







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