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Wednesday, 7 April 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- Mr. President,before the adjournment of this debate last night I was referring to the Vietnamese campaign, putting the view that it was entirely proper, and indeed, essential for the interests that the Western democracies represented that the line of division between North Vietnam and South Vietnam should be defended and preserved in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Convention of 1954. I was putting forward the view that the retaliation which should take place in the course of that defence by the South Vietnamese, with the aid of the U.S.A., must be commensurate with the intensity of the attack or subversion from the north.I was putting that viewpoint because of the importance which seemed to me to attach to the preservation of the South East Asian countries of Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia and, indeed, Mr. President, more importantly still, India. India is going through a terrifically anxious period of transition at this present time following the death of Prime Minister Nehru.

Mr. President,there is noone who will be satisfied with the activities connected with the defence of South Vietnam unless he is satisfied that they are properly confined to defence. Whereas some statements were made on the part of the American authorities that they were going to prosecute this war without limit and were going to escalate it, yet it has now been completely and authoritatively established that the American policy is to maintain retaliation simply on the basis of defence.

The President himself has said quite bluntly that the United States of America seeks no wider war. He said: " We threaten no regime and covet no territory ". He said, also, that his sole purpose is to defend the South Vietnamese to enable them to develop an economy and a government that will express their purpose in life. The rapidity of changes of government in South Vietnam should convince us all that at present there are nothing like democratic institutions in that country and, indeed, the people are not yet at such a stage that democratic institutions appeal to them as a means of expression. So the main emphasis is, upon economic development and education. But that is a long process and no reasonable person can contemplate the present warlike activities being continued until it is completed.

We come then to the next stage, in regard to which discussion over the last three or four weeks has, I believe, done much to convince Australia and Great Britain that the President of the United States of America is at all times willing to engage in negotiations which have a real prospect of achieving an honorable peace. I agree with the President's statement of 23rd March when he said -

As I have said in every part of the Union, I am ready to go anywhere at any time, and meet with anyone, whenever there is promise of progress toward an honorable peace.

He did not say: " Provided it can be anticipated that at such a conference a final conclusion of peace can be obtained ". He said he will engage in negotiations whenever there is a prospect of moving a stage further towards an honorable peace. I was impressed by the remarks of Senator Willesee the other night when he gave what I thought was a most prudent reminder that it would be a great desertion, on the part of the President of the United States of America, of the people who depend upon his courage, judgment and leadership in this world crisis, if he were to buoy up their hopes by arranging a conference which seemed at the threshold to have no real prospect of success. I believe Senator Willesee's view is realistic.

Reference has been made to the British Government's proper concern to probe every possibility of finding negotiations out of which peace can come. I applaud that attitude and welcome the mission that has been undertaken by Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, provided that this is not another case of Runciman going to Czechoslovakia. There is no basis for anyone to suggest that Mr. Gordon Walker will not studiously observe a proper regard for the interests of the combatant who is carrying the main responsibility of the campaign and studiously regard the interests of South Vietnam, while not in the slightest degree subordinating their interests to the overwhelming purpose of securing peace. I would not be associated in any shape or form with surrendering the interests of the South Vietnamese for the purpose of obtaining peace. But the President, with all the sense of reality that goes with his announcements, should give the people represented by the bishops in Australia full confidence that his purpose is to secure peace so long as it can be obtained on the proper basis of protecting the South Vietnamese and stopping Communist aggression. While that campaign is in progress we are still involved in activities which are nothing less than war.

I am one who believes that it is the duty of the Australian Government not complacently to consider merely the possibilities of a negotiated peace but to arrange all the channels that its ingenuity can suggest whereby a workable programme for the cessation of these hostilities by negotiation can be evolved.

I cannot leave this subject without referring to a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in the paper we are discussing. The Minister said that the United Nations Organisation must not be considered to have broken down, It seems to me that the implication in some of the statements by U Thant on this crisis is that the United Nations is completely impotent. Let us consider that implication in conjunction with the imbroglio that has arisen from the forfeiture by Russia and France and one or two other member nations of their right to vote in the General Assembly because of their refusal to pay contributions to the guarding campaigns that have been undertaken by the United Nations. As a result, the General Assembly adjourned without really deciding anything by an effective vote during the whole of the last session. In the circumstances one must contemplate the present disarray of the United Nations with dismay. I shall return to that matter in a moment, but I believe there is an imperative duty on all the countries, both large and small, which constitute the United Nations and wish for peace in Vietnam to regalvanise the United Nations Organisation so that it may contribute effectively to a solution of the crisis by peaceful means.

Senator Willesee - That conflicts with the views expressed by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the past few days.

Senator WRIGHT - Not as I interpret them. I speak my judgment on this matter so far as I am informed. I confidently believe that the need to search for peace by negotiation and by the United Nations is regarded as strongly by the Prime Minister as by any one of us in this Parliament or in this country.

Senator Willesee - That is not my interpretation of what the Prime Minister said.

Senator WRIGHT - I would be happy 10 hear of further developments if there is anything to be said to the contrary; but I think anything to the contrary would be a complete misunderstanding of the Prime Minister's remarks. I turn now to the problem of Indonesia. I think we should use this Indonesian crisis to try to understand the fundamental cause of what is called confrontation and what is revealed by the statement of the Minister for External Affairs to be obviously a continuous series of warlike attacks by Indonesia on Malaysia since the end of last October. For the first time we had catalogued by the Minister the date and a brief description of each incident in which Indonesians had violated Malaysian territory. Between the end of October last and when the Minister made his statement about a fortnight or three weeks ago more than 50 attacks had been made by armed Indonesians on Malaysian territory, including Borneo, i

We ought never to forget that the original concept of Malaysia was approved by Sukarno. We ought never to forget that his subsequent disapproval was advocated by the Communist Party in his own country. We ought never to forget that he then denigrated the United Nations, which sent out an impartial supervisor to ascertain whether or not the concept of Malaysia accorded with the will of the people of Malaya, Singapore and Borneo, including Sarawak. The United Nations satisfied itself that there had been a proper expression of the will of the people. Since then, and simultaneously with a creeping growth of Communist Party influence within the Indonesian Government, we have witnessed this vendetta which is called confrontation. Events have reached the stage where, not only have the representations and petitions of Malaysia to the United Nations to have the member countries of that Organisation assembled with a view to stopping this series of attacks and substituting peaceful means for them proved to be quite ineffective, but also Indonesia has withdrawn from the United Nations.

If the Communists, with the assistance of the A fro- Asians, encourage the establishment of an opposing united nations organisation, the United Nations, already weakened, will be presented with a tremendous challenge to its respect and very existence. We would then find ourselves in a world in which power politics predominated. The prospect for the genuine' United Nations, the function of which is to solve issues like the current one by peaceful means and without resort to arms, would be sad indeed. Although it is dangerous to try to establish parallels in history, I believe it is helpful for us to cast our minds back to the time when Hitler took Germany out of the League of Nations and to note the rapid development of events under Nazi aggression until within five or six years the world was aflame. Events developed with terrific rapidity between the time when he made his first attempt at force in Austria and the eventual invasion df France. We recall the incidents that occurred in Czechoslovakia and Poland in the meantime. Reflection upon those events must lead us to the conclusion that everything that has motivated the Indonesian campaign of confrontation has not been revealed on the surface.

To all this we must add our apprehension when we see Communist China forging a closer understanding with Indonesia in relation to both the supply of arms and trading arrangements. I am reminded of the diplomacy that preceded the attack on Poland. From memory, Hitler's diplomacy won Russia over to an alliance as a substitute for the persistent hostility between Germany and Russia up to that time, not more than three months before Germany's attack was launched on Poland. That alliance left the Allies without the prospect of Russian aid, as well as exposing a flank for Hitler to march upon.

It is said that Communist China is not yet ready for aggression of that kind, but I believe that she has secured with Indonesia an understanding which, in relation to the weakening of the United Nations and the persistent warlike attacks upon Malaysia, is indeed alarming. Over 50 attacks have been made by the Indonesians since the end of October, not merely one or two attacks which we have read about in the daily Press. I am bound to say that in my judgment it is the utmost folly in the world that the Indonesian people should be led into such a stupid campaign against Malaysia, a campaign which attacks the principles upon which Indonesia's independence was established - the right of any people by a free expression of opinion to establish their own form of government.

There is reality, Mr. President, and complete genuineness in the approach of every Australian to the realisation that for us there are enormous advantages in' developing a friendly relationship with Indonesia. It is a great tribute to the forbearance of the leaders of Malaysia and to the Australian Government - Mr. Paul Hasluck, the Minister for External Affairs, called it " maturity " in his statement - that rather than allow this continued series of attacks to inflame us and so provoke us as to precipitate a declared war, restraint has been exercised in the hope that the Indonesian people will somehow see a way to divorce themselves from their present irresponsible leadership.

Help must be given to Malaysia. Indonesian Ministers are already adverting to the fact that Australian soldiers are taking up their positions on the borders of Borneo. For my part, as that situation is reached, the Government is bound to curtail, diminish and withdraw any aid being given to Indonesia that can promote economic strength and so strengthen an enemy that has forced our soldiers to be committed to that extent. At the same time, I agree fully with the judgment of the Honorable Paul Hasluck. 1 have unqualified confidence in his judgment of the programme of aid, but if Indonesia continues its attacks, it must forfeit any right to aid from us that can possibly be used in strength against us.

Mr. President,my time is limited and I wish to refer now to the United Nations. I am tremendously grateful to the Minister for making such reference to the United Nations as he did in his statement. It completely answers any suggestion that ours is a sabre rattling government or a government that relies upon war. The Minister has emphasised that we seek the revival of the United Nations as an effective instrument of peace, but the Government has a duty not only to express this purpose but also to work for it in every possible avenue. I believe that it could recruit people in this community with special values in international machinery, special understanding of the way in which international sovereignty should be governed by machinery, and special understanding of just those problems that are besetting the efficacy of the Security Council and bedevilling the United Nations. I believe that people have to be working on this continuously as a consuming purpose. The Government, as I see it, is leaving it simply to the Department of External Affairs.

I turn from that brief reference to the United Nations to a. brief reference to united Europe. Glad I am that the Honorable Paul Hasluck has forefronted in his papers here a reference to the significance of united Europe and reminded us that although in the economic sense the programme was foiled by De Gaulle some two years ago - a matter for which we may be grateful and perhaps, should not criticise De Gaulle in the long run - Erhard and De Gaulle, aided by Spaak and his committee, have been earnestly engaging their attention this time upon not solely an economic union of Europe but a political unification that will give unity in foreign policy and unity in defence of Europe. The latest news puts even Russia in contemplation in that structure. It may be that as the growth of this significance dawns upon us, if there are permanent adverse interests between Communist China and Russia, with the now more mature development of Russia, we may get a stronger Europe, either confederated or federated. One thing that seems to be certain is that it will pay considerable respect in these matters to the influence of England and the genius of English leadership. Short of some such structure as that, one sees the twin evils of potential development in 10 years in either Germany or Communist Russia. If there are to be all of these imbalances in Asia without some degree of unity in Europe, our situation, I believe, will be parlous indeed. 1 make that brief reference to a united Europe and the United Nations because, in my view, altogether too little consideration has been given in this Parliament to each of these matters in the past. I am tremendously grateful that Mr. Hasluck has reminded us of the significance of each and insists on them as integral parts of Australia's policy in making the announcement of his policy with regard to Vietnam and Indonesia. I conclude by simply saying that in discussing these matters we are. discussing the policy that the Government of this country should pursue. Because there are differences of emphasis in that policy this in no way detracts from the determination of this nation to defend itself and the ideals that we cherish in our Western way of life. But it is no use the Government holding a policy in a thoughtful community such as this without time and again explaining that policy, and the facts upon which it is based, to our people because only by persuading the thoughtful people in Australia that the basic facts justify such a policy can you get a union of strength within the nation which will guarantee that that policy will be effectuated and that the nation will survive.

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