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Tuesday, 6 April 1965

Senator MATTNER (South Australia) .- From 1954 to 1955, the South Vietnamese made steady progress in the economic field. Food production surpassed previous levels. As a matter of fact, it rose by 20 per cent. In 1963, it had increased by 30 per cent. This was accomplished in the face of Vietcong military attacks and terrorism. Contrast that with North Vietnam where food production fell and manufacturing industries also produced less. At that time 900,000 refugees from North Vietnam were successfully settled in the South. Because of these accomplishments and because South Vietnam was outstripping the North and winning the battle of peaceful competition, the Vietcong decided to use violence and terror to gain control of South Vietnam. I want the people of Australia to know that.

This flagrant aggression has gone on for years, ft is a new kind of war. One must visit the country to gain even a faint realisation of this fact. It is a war such as has never been waged before. All peaceful people must realise that the North Vietnamese are waging war against the South with one purpose alone and that is to prevent the South Vietnamese from deciding upon their own system of government. We do not hear anything about that. This horrible aggression has been forced upon an independent people who want to make their own way in peace and freedom. The Communist Government in North Vietnam has set out deliberately to conquer South Vietnam.

North Vietnam uses every resource and device to carry out this concealed aggression. This aggression is as real but more insidious than the actions of any invading army. Undisputed evidence proves that the infiltration of trained military personnel into South Vietnam is directed by the military high command in Hanoi. Weapons and supplies are provided by Hanoi. Let nobody run away with the idea that the North Vietnamese are using antiquated weapons. They are using some of the most up to date conventional weapons that we know of in the world. How can aircraft be shot down with what are supposed to be sawn off shotguns? Such a suggestion just does not make sense. Recently new types of weapons and ammunition have been supplied to the Vietcong by Communist China.

The Communists direct an elaborate system of espionage and subversion, their principal function being to create the false impression that aggression against South Vietnam is a rebellion against the established Government. All too often we read in the Press that what is happening in South Vietnam is a rebellion against the Government of that country. The International Control Commission held that North Vietnam had sent arms and men into South Vietnam to overthrow the legal Government. Does anybody doubt the integrity of the International Control Commission? There is indisputable evidence that these things are happening. The Commission found also that the authorities at Hanoi had violated at least four provisions of the Geneva Accord of 1954. Senator Cohen said that we should negotiate with these people. Does he deny that following negotiations a solid pact was signed in 1954?

Senator Cohen - Certainly not.

Senator MATTNER - Does the honorable senator deny that the Communists have violated at least four provisions of that agreement? Does he deny what the International Control Commission has said?

Senator Cohen - The Commission said that both sides had violated the treaty in important respects.

Senator MATTNER - Does the honorable senator admit that North Vietnam has violated the treaty?

Senator Cohen - Yes, of course I do.

Senator MATTNER - This is the first time the honorable senator has said so. I am glad of that admission.

Senator Cohen - It is not an admission.

Senator MATTNER - Senator Cohen cannot produce evidence that South Vietnam originated an attack against North Vietnam.

Senator Cohen - Read the report of the Control Commission.

Senator MATTNER - Never mind about that. I had the pleasure of meeting the members of the International Control Commission. I do not suppose the honorable senator will deny that the membership of the Commission includes a delegate from India, who is the Chairman, and also delegates from Canada and Poland. It was the good fortune of members of the delegation from this Parliament to meet these people, to talk to them and to obtain their views about the situation. I repeat that the people of Australia should know what is happening in this neighbouring land. They should know how the trouble began. Does Senator Cohen deny that the Vietcong forces were the first people to commit acts of aggression in this area? He knows very well that they were the first to do so. Would he sit idly by and submit to this aggression? Would he turn the other cheek?

Senator Cohen - Certainly not, but I would certainly try to get a basis for negotiation.

Senator MATTNER - The honorable senator has established the fact that the Vietcong forces were the first to attack South Vietnam. He must admit then that, if the South Vietnamese had taken steps to go into North Vietnam, they would have been justified in doing so. But he does not say that. All he says is that the South Vietnamese are responsible for what is happening.

Senator Cohen - Who said that?

Senator MATTNER - The honorable senator did.

Senator Cohen - I ask Senator Mattner to point to any word I uttered to that effect.

Senator MATTNER - Let the honorable senator read his speech. He will find that there was not one word in what he said that was in favour of the South Vietnamese or of the Americans.

Senator Murphy - What nonsense.

Senator MATTNER - lt was nonsense on the honorable senator's part, and I was grieved to hear it.

Senator Cohen - The honorable senator ought to read the speech that I made in July last about the Control Commission.

Senator MATTNER - It was one of the most spurious speeches 1 have ever heard. The honorable senator had a shilling each way. I repeat that the people of Australia ought to know who started this conflict, why they started it, and what would befall Australia if the Vietcong forces gained control of South Vietnam. I ask Senator Cohen what he believes would happen if the North Vietnamese gained control of South Vietnam. Let us look at the map of this area. China and North Vietnam are neighbours. If South Vietnam falls to Communist aggression, then Laos, Thailand and Cambodia will suffer a similar fate. Nothing can be surer than that. China is breathing down the necks of those countries. Cambodia is endeavouring to be neutral.

Earlier I referred to infiltration from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. Vietnam is a long, narrow country with a very long coastline, its other boundaries being formed by China, Laos and Cambodia. The infiltrators are trained, in the main, by Hanoi. They move down to Vinh on the east coast and pass on to the staging areas in the Dong Hoi area. From there they usually go by truck to the Laos border, whence they proceed by secret trails into South Vietnam. This penetration is very difficult to stop, lt is known that some of the infiltrators have moved down the mountain trails and over the Cambodian border to take up positions near Saigon.

The mighty Mekong River, with its tributaries, also is very useful for infiltration purposes. This river is three miles wide and in many places is 70 feet deep. Maritime infiltration is prevalent. Recently a ship was seized after a bitter fight with the Vietcong forces. It was found that this, vessel, which came from North Vietnam, was carrying thousands of weapons and more than a million rounds of small arms ammunition. It was all of Communist origin, having come from China, Czechoslovakia and North Vietnam. At least 100 tons of military supplies were discovered near the ship. Included in the cargo were 1,000 stick grenades, 500 lb. of T.N.T. in prepared charges, 2,000 rounds of 82 mm. mortar ammunition, 500 anti-tank grenades, SOO rounds of 57 mm. recoilless rifle ammunition, 1,000 rounds of 75 mm. recoilless rifle ammunition, 200 heavy machine guns, 2,000 Mauser rifles, 1,000 sub-machine guns, 15 light machine guns, 500 rifles and medical supplies, all of which, as I said, bore labels showing that they came from China, North Vietnam, Czechoslovakia or East Germany. Would you call that peaceful penetration?

In the Mekong Delta area, which is the rice bowl of South East Asia, there are 460 miles of coastline and 2,500 miles of canals that are navigable to large craft. In addition, there are 2,200 miles of canals over which sampans move easily. When one sees the movement of these ships and the activity that is going on, one realises how easy infitration would be. Many of the infiltrators carry false identification papers and because they are of the same race it is very hard to distinguish friend from foe. The great, flat coastal strip used for rice production varies in width but is hemmed in by mountain ranges. These ranges are sparsely populated and provide ideal hideouts for the Vietcong invaders.

The internal political struggle in South Vietnam with its distractions gave the Vietcong a great opportunity to encourage disaffection within the people of South Vietnam and to consolidate its hold on the countryside. Vietcong troops struck at outposts and over-ran strategic hamlets set up for the protection of the local people, not as a means of offensive, but for defensive action. The Vietcong increased its campaign of sabotage and terror. On what did it concentrate its efforts? Schools are its favourite target. From people who say we should negotiate peace we never hear of the hundreds of schools in South Vietnam that have been over-run and destroyed by the Vietcong. We do not hear of the number of teachers who have been murdered. Vietcong troops have caused the closure of hundreds of schools and have ruined the education of tens of thousands of children. We do not hear a word spoken about those children or the ruination of their future by the Vietcong.

Hospitals and medical clinics are freely attacked and medical supplies are carried away. Village and town offices, police stations and agricultural research stations are high on the list of Vietcong targets for destruction. Australia supplied approximately 120 dairy cows to the South Vietnamese people in an attempt to give them an interest in dairying. We sent personnel to South Vietnam in an endeavour to teach the South Vietnamese people the principles of dairy farming. The Vietcong attacked the training centre. Over 40 cows were killed and 40 were driven away. Two of the attendants were killed and Mrs. Arthur, wife of the manager who had gone to South Vietnam from Gippsland, was wounded. That is the result of our attempt to establish a dairying project.

By 1964, 436 South Vietnamese chiefs and other officials had been killed 1,131 had been kidnapped. Bombs killed 1,350 civilians and 8,400 were kidnapped. It is true that Vietcong troops force their opinions down the throats of their opponents by means of rifle barrels. The South Vietnamese are resisting this aggression and it is at their request that the United States of America has assisted in the defence of South Vietnam. The United States seeks neither territory nor military bases. It does not seek to establish a favoured position. How I wish all Australians would recognise that fact. If peace can be restored in South Vietnam, the free nations of the world will at once reduce their military involvement. Thus they will be able to increase economic aid and assistance. The choice of peace or war is in the hands of the Communists. That nobody can deny.

Senator Ormonde - The honorable senator does not have much of an opinion of the nations of the Western world.

Senator MATTNER - The honorable senator and all members of this Parliament know that all that is necessary is for North Vietnam to show its goodwill and observe the Geneva Conference.

Senator Murphy - Why should that be so? Why should we leave it to the Communists to choose whether there should be peace or war?

Senator MATTNER - For this reason. They have chosen warlike aggression in South Vietnam.

Senator Murphy - They have chosen propaganda.

Senator MATTNER - They have chosen aggression and the honorable senator knows it as well as I do. He cannot point to any acts of aggression by the South Vietnamese upon the North. I challenge him to produce any such evidence. We can produce facts and figures to prove aggression by North Vietnam. I ask the honorable senator who interjects whether he is in favour of aggression by North Vietnam? I ask him to state his attitude. I repeat that peace or war depends on the Vietcong. The North Vietnamese could bring about peace tomorrow if they so chose simply by observing the Geneva Conference. Do honorable senators opposite say that the Geneva Conference was wrong? If that is so, what hope is there for agreement? The United States of America is trying to contain the Communists within North Vietnam. If the United States were to withdraw before a definite guarantee of the integrity and safety of South Vietnam were made by the United Nations, the future of the Australian mainland would be at stake.

Events in Malaysia give rise to serious misgivings as to the possible intentions of the Indonesians. Our sphere of influence in East New Guinea is affected by the ideologies of West Irian. We desire peace and goodwill with Indonesia. Indonesia won her independence some years ago and the great mass of Australian people asks why she wishes to deny to Malaysia the right of self-determination for which she successfully fought. We hear a great deal of psychological warfare - of winning the minds of men. The West is charged with a duty to understand and to win the minds of the East. But surely this is a two way traffic. My remarks are related also to Indonesia. Surely she knows that we want to be her friend. We want peace. Let the Indonesians make an attempt to win our minds and establish goodwill.

Every day articles appear in the Press advocating the withdrawal of the United States from South Vietnam. Do honorable senators opposite want the Americans to withdraw from South Vietnam? It is up to us to support the Americans and not to cry down and belittle their efforts. We do not hear very much said of what has happened to Rumania, Hungary, Austria, Poland and other countries that have been overthrown by imperialism on a great scale as waged by the Communists. That may be all right with some people, but it is not all right with me. Senator Cohen said that we should negotiate. I ask him: Negotiate with whom? It is said that the United States should surrender. Why should America get out of South Vietnam?

Senator Murphy - Who said she should get out? We want her to be in there to win the peace - land reform, education and transformation of the country. That is what we want her to win.

Senator MATTNER - Exactly. That is the very purpose for which America is in there, and the honorable senator cannot deny it. Yet it is said that America must get out. Why should America withdraw? We must be a little realistic and have a look at this victory that we hope to get. I advise the honorable senator to go and have a jolly good look at the country. I guarantee that he would change his mind if he looked down the barrel of a rifle at an angry man. I guess his knees would shiver and shake. No-one in South Vietnam knows when he might be looking down the barrel of a rifle.

Senator O'Byrne - You only see the bullet if you look down the barrel, not the man behind it.

Senator MATTNER - Perhaps some honorable senators opposite know what it is to look at an angry man. I leave it at that. I suggest that they should go and have a look at these places. Their whole conception of what war and aggression mean would be changed. No other war or engagement that I have ever seen, read about or heard about, is similar to this. One cannot form any opinion without seeing it. All one's military ideas have to go by the board. With all the emphasis that I can command I invite honorable senators to have a look at it. They will see that something similar could easily happen to Australia. Honorable senators may think that is wrong. 1 hope that I never see it but in the long term, if the Americans get out of South Vietnam, in my opinion the safety of Australia will be in grave jeopardy. I repeat that America wishes only that South Vietnam decide its own future and by a free vote decide the form of government that it wants. Is there anything wrong with that? Have the Americans transgressed that conception? I say that they have not.

The greatest safeguard to Australia's security is the presence of the forces of the United States in South Vietnam. Let those who advocate, " Go home, Yankee ", visit this area and see for themselves how South Vietnam is being terrorised by the Vietcong forces. I have no quarrel with the political philosophy adopted by any country, whether it be Communist or not, so long as the people themselves have a free choice to determine their own future. Basically, that is why American forces are in South Vietnam. Let the Australian detractors ponder those facts.

The scene of American participation in South Vietnam is far removed from America. America herself is not threatened. No material gain for that nation is in view. Her safety would not be in any way endangered if she withdrew. But Australia's safety is most definitely threatened. What do the American people say? The parents of Americans who are resisting Communist aggression in South Vietnam say, with a great deal of feeling, " Why should our sons die in this cause to preserve Australia? " Why should they do it, if Australia will not support the ideals of democracy? To whom can Australia turn if attacks are made on Australia, as is quite possible?

In Great Britain's eyes, Australia was expendable in World War II, by force of circumstances. Let us not forget that. Lately, tribute has been paid to a great British statesman, the late Sir Winston Churchill. He it was who said that Australia was expendable in the circumstances that then existed. Think of the reactions of the Australian divisions, those volunteers who, I have heard it said from that side of the chamber, went overseas and left Australia undefended. They were the most wonderful divisions to fight in any war. They saved Egypt, they protected India and they kept Japan out of the war for years and made Australia secure. What was their reaction when Australia was expendable? Never since that time has the relationship with Great Britain, from a military point of view, been quite the same as it was before. A similar situation could occur in the near future. If it did, it would be impossible for Great Britain to come to our aid. As far as Great Britain was concerned, by force of circumstances we would be expendable. Therefore, we must lean very heavily on America's arm.

We are greatly perturbed about what is happening in South East Asia. We know that there are casualties, but let us pause to think of the casualties that Great Britain is sustaining, in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and elsewhere. Those are far greater casualties than are being suffered by the Americans in South Vietnam. Great Britain is involved in a great struggle to preserve democracy. No mention was made of this in the speech of the Minister for External Affairs. 1 should like to pause for a moment to refer to the situation in Israel. I have said before and I say again that Israel is one of the great danger spots of the world. It is surrounded by people who are quite hostile to the establishment of the Israeli people in Israel. We read about the diversion of the waters of the River Jordan from the Sea of Galilee and we read about the United Arab Republic. We talk about Berlin being divided between East and West. Hideous as that may be, the division of Jerusalem is even more hideous. Israel has been starved of munitions. We have read of the pacts between East Germany and Czechoslovakia and the United Arab Republic. This situation, in my opinion, could quite easily start a horrible war. la those conditions Europe itself would be divided and Australia would have to lean very heavily on the arm of America because all aid from Europe could be cut off. Public opinion is easily fanned. We have heard it said that America should withdraw from South Vietnam. Consider the situation in which we would then be. This country could easily be attacked.

Senator Ormonde - By whom?

Senator MATTNER - Does the honorable senator not realise that this country could be easily attacked? The explosion of a nuclear bomb by China has altered the whole pattern of armament and aggression. The Communists told us they were going to take us over and I repeat that the Communists do not lie. I say to those people within Australia who today decry what America is doing in South Vietnam and elsewhere - she is pouring money into countries throughout the world, not for her own gain but in an endeavour to raise their standards of living - that since the Second World War she has been perhaps the greatest benefactor the world has seen. I see in the future a set of circumstances in which such people will implore America's aid to save their own skins.

Australia's reputation is high in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand because, like America, we do not support any particular government. I repeat that we do not support any particular government. We are in those countries only to help them to obtain for themselves the right of choice. We proclaim our aims to the world. They are peace and goodwill to our neighbours. We will assist any of our neighbours in their search for a way to govern themselves by the exercise of a free choice, but that does not mean that we must be blind to the consequences that face us. After having seen the infiltration of Communists into South Vietnam and the things that they do, I am more than ever worried about what might happen to Australia. We certainly have Communists infiltrating our trade unions.

Senator Ormonde - Do not bring that up.

Senator MATTNER - The honorable senator asks me not to bring that up. I fear what will happen within Australia if by any chance Communist China, assisted by Indonesia, carries out her threat to wage war against us. I cannot understand why we have in our great trade unions people who proclaim themselves openly and avowedly as Communists, people who are prepared to overthrow this country, people who do not profess allegiance to our ideals of life. To me, that is the greatest threat facing Australia. I support the Minister's statement.

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