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Wednesday, 7 April 1965


Senator ORMONDE - That is rightRudolf Hess. He went to England to negotiate while the war was on.


Senator Hannaford - He did not get much chance to negotiate.


Senator ORMONDE - I know that. But Senator Hannan seems to dispute the assertion that we should negotiate. He asked whether we should negotiate with Mao Tse-tung. What would be wrong with negotiating with Mao Tse-tung if by doing so we could save lives? After all, the Government's representatives had no difficulty in negotiating with the Chinese Government to sell our wheat. Only recently we tied up business with the Chinese amounting to something like £40 million.


Senator Hannaford - I think Ho Chi Minh was mentioned.


Senator ORMONDE - It does not matter who it is; I would rather negotiate with the Chinese Government to end the war than to sell our wheat I would feel that 1 was doing my duty to my fellow men more effectively if I negotiated to save the lives of even two or three Australian soldiers who might die in the next week or so.


Senator Hannan - I take it that the honorable senator believes the Chinese are behind this war?


Senator ORMONDE - I do not think there is any real evidence that they are effectively in the war at all.


Senator Hannan - If they are not in it, why negotiate with them?


Senator ORMONDE - You are quibbling now. You said that the Labour Party does not want to negotiate. I say that we do, and that is the only difference between us and the Liberal Party. I dare say that behind the scenes members of the Liberal Party would favour negotiation, but surely they would not be insane enough not to want to negotiate. Surely any conservative in the world would want to negotiate in this matter if he could. He would swallow his pride in any circumstances to stop a war.


Senator Willesee - President Johnson said he would talk to anyone to try to stop the war.


Senator ORMONDE - Only two years ago in this Senate we were tearing our hair over Cuba, and while we were doing so negotiations were going on behind the scenes. A settlement was arrived at and there was no war. We are in favour of negotiation. Supporters of the Government talk a lot about negotiations in industrial matters and we support the idea of negotiations generally. I do not know why honorable senators opposite object to negotiation to prevent war. Senator Hannan also said that he disputed Senator Dittmer's statement that poverty brings Communism. I do not see how any rational person can dispute that statement. Senator Hannan said that poverty was not the cause of Communism in East Berlin, Latvia, Hungary. But they were all poverty stricken. There might have been no Communism in the Soviet Union itself after the First World War if the people had had enough food. I thought it was an accepted axiom that empty bellies mean Communism. That is my complaint about this Government and all other governments which do not make a concerted attack on world poverty. Wherever there are signs of war and wherever the freedom and peace of the white races of the world are in danger, there is poverty. Is it not extraordinary that the great wealthy nations of the world, including the Soviet Union, America, England and France, all enjoying comfort and abundance, are watching, waiting, sensing the danger of atomic war over issues which are being decided in an area which is really proverty-stricken? That is true. It is true also of Africa, where the dark races have been freed and have been given their political independence. We will have many more situations such as we have in Vietnam today. They may arise in Kenya or anywhere else in Africa where democracy has broken down and revolutions and counter-revolutions are threatened.

The white nations - the major races of the world - are surely not prepared to have the peace of the world destroyed over a dispute in Africa, after we have settled the dispute in Vietnam. I believe that the situation in Vietnam will be cleared up within a few weeks. I would say that negotiations are going on now to settle it. What is involved in that situation as far as the people of South Vietnam are concerned? We talked a lot about Korea, but that war passed over and we never hear of the Koreans now. France got out of Vietnam but did not take her money out of the country. France still has £1,000 million invested there. AH sorts of contradictory things like that occur and they make peace in Vietnam quite possible.


Senator Hannan - You know that France had no option. She could not take her money out of Vietnam.


Senator ORMONDE - We tore our hair over West Irian but the Dutch who retired from Dutch New Guinea are now returning and playing their part in the resettlement of the area, despite the alleged threat by Indonesia. The Dutch are a wise people. They are not panicking. A philosopher said that man does not live by bread alone, and that is true, but the peoples of Asia and Africa have to find not only freedom, but also jobs, security and a decent standard of living. At one time the idea of raising their standards did not occur to them because their half of the world's people did not know how the other half lived. But today they do know. International communications and travel have let the Indians know what they are missing and, despite what Senator Hannan said, poverty is still the curse of this world.

Only the other day a Cabinet Minister from India said publicly in Sydney that one Indian in three is starving today. I believe that is a conservative estimate. I was in Bombay for two days recently and I do not see how the people of India can be saved from Communism unless we do something about feeding them. Senator Hannan claims that poverty and Communism have nothing in common; they have everything in common and the Communist is only effective where there are empty bellies.


Senator Hannan - That is not what I said.


Senator ORMONDE - Let me instance some of my experiences in Bombay. I think a lady senator from Victoria was in Bombay at the same time as I was. I was taken for afternoon tea to one of the embassy offices about 100 yards from the Bombay Post Office. I looked out the window of the third floor flat in which : I was and saw in a quarry or excavation along side it 70 or 80 Indian coolies in the hot sun, digging out blue metal. They were excavating for another block of flats which, by the way, were not to be for them. They had no proper tools but only little chisels and hammers. The job had been in progress for two years. Each day the workers started at sun-up and knocked off when the sun went down. I ask the reason why they worked such long hours and was told: " You have to sleep on the job or else you lose your job ". They dug all day and slept in the quarry at night, only 100 yards from the Bombay Post Office. I saw seven or eight women dressed in dirty clothes which were clinging to their backbones. They were carrying blue metal in baskets from the quarry to the trucks. I also saw six or seven little babies lying at the side of the quarry in the sun, black with dirt. Two mothers put their baskets of metal down and leaned over the babies, like dogs, to give them their four o'clock feed. That is what goes on in Bombay. I do not blame the Government of India. The Government has an immense problem. How can it solve the problem? I asked what happened when one of those workers dropped dead and was told: "Look over there. There are plenty of others to fill their jobs". These people have no addresses and I doubt whether they even have names, but they are doing this work in Bombay. One of the officials of our Department of External Affairs in Bombay was warned, when he went with his wife into a certain area, not to look or give alms to the poor or he would be surrounded and injured. His wife did. She was foolish enough to hand a cripple a coin. Within minutes they were surrounded and she was scratched and injured sufficiently to finish up in hospital. They were surrounded by poverty stricken cripples.

I was in a taxi and saw three bodies on the road. 1 do not know how they died. They had no names or addresses. The bodies were swept around a corner, kerosene was thrown on them and they were burnt in front of my eyes. That was the easiest way to get rid of the bodies I suppose; but who worried? The taxi driver said: " If you are feeling like that we will go to a funeral ". We went to see the funeral of some Parsee and saw the birds eating their flesh. I make these points to show that we are dealing with another class of people. But poverty is there and I do not see how Communism can be kept out of India unless we do something to make our contribution. It was a sad couple of days for me in Bombay.

The position is not as bad but is much the same in Singapore. There are people everywhere living on the streets. It is a great problem. What are we to do about saving the East from Communism? They are not the only two places in the East in that condition. Egypt is nearly as bad. There is poverty there and in fact there is poverty everywhere.

Honorable senators opposite hate Communism as we do but they fear it more than we do. It is no good to fear Communism because that stops you from facing the issue. One must look at Communism and see what it means and how to handle it. Probably it was American aid through the Marshall Plan which saved Italy from being Communist. There is not much doubt about that. Through Marshall aid the workers in Italy were put to work. There are Communists in Italy of the type who vote Communist; but American Marshall aid did more to save this world from Communism than many people are prepared to agree. Without it our problem would have been greater.

The problem of Communism should not simply be related to the East where the standard of living is low, but it is not a real issue in any other part of the world. As Senator Dittmer said in one of the best speeches he has made in the Senate in my opinion, when we first had to face the Soviet Union, the people who were fearful of Communism - the Jeremiahs - thought the worst was going to happen; but it did not happen. They are still waiting for it to happen and it probably never will happen. We of the Western world would not deserve to live if we allowed an issue like Vietnam to endanger the peace of the world.

I do not think it is possible to endanger world peace in a situation like Vietnam. The people of the Soviet Union have too much to lose to risk war over an issue like that. I certainly believe the Western world has too much to lose. I criticise the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) for his statement that if he is the only Prime Minister left to denounce negotiation he will denounce it. I do not know just what he meant, but he will probably have to eat his words because the situation in South Vietnam will be resolved, I believe, without any consultation with Australia.

What does our trade in wheat mean to the rest of the world? They cannot think that we are really genuine about Vietnam or that we are really serious about fighting this issue and mean what, we say. I do not say that we should not trade with China. I think that is one of the solutions to the world situation and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Harold Wilson, is giving a lead in that respect. I was in the House of Commons when the Labour Government announced its decision to buy aeroplanes from the United States of America and to close down British aircraft factories. The Conservatives of Great Britain wanted to build British aircraft whether they could sell them or not. As Mr. Wilson told them, Mr. Thorneycroft built aircraft in England that should never have been built and then became a salesman in Europe. What did he sell? The answer is: Nothing. Mr. Wilson told them: "You wanted to build aircraft in Great Britain because you wanted only one customerthe British taxpayer. The Labour Government says that we will deal with American interests and have business agreements with them for the building and buying of aircraft. We will put our limited work force to work for other things."

If people all over the Western world are preparing for war, how can we end starvation? The wealthy Western world should be preparing plans to end starvation in the Eastern countries so that we can beat Communism that way. That is the constructive way to do the job and world opinion is behind it. A war on poverty has been started in the United States. We have the same sort of political message here; but it is the war on poverty in the East that we need to wage, and we should get busy about it. Why should we limit the growing of wheat or any other cereal? We should be subsidising salesto Eastern countries and showing by our efforts that we really mean what we are talking about. That is better than making bellicose, belligerent speeches about what we will do, or that we will not negotiate. We will have to negotiate. The situation in Vietnam cannot be allowed to endanger the peace of the world because as so many people, great and small, know the next war will be the last war for all of us. Nobody wants it. I was impressed by the speeches made by the Minister and by Senator Wright and others.


Senator Hannan - What about mine?


Senator ORMONDE - I think Senator Hannan has a one track mind on these things. I know it is important to have people who are extreme in their views because that helps to develop a middle of the road democratic approach to these problems and that is more likely to be understood in the countries where peace is endangered today. Those people who would rather be dead than Red have their part to play but they must never be allowed to dominate foreign affairs in any government whether it be Labour or Liberal. We must always negotiate. Negotiation is the art of democratic government. One never wins outright in a democratic situation. Some people call such an approach appeasement. It is not necessarily appeasement but is a middle of the road approach. Negotiation is a basic part of democracy. I believe that, as Senator Dittmer suggested, we should send delegations to the East and keep in touch with public opinion in those countries. It should not be necessary to depend upon newspapers to learn about what is happen ing in other countries. Of course, I know the Government does not do that. But even governments might get wrong information about what is happening in other countries. Delegations which move among the people of the other countries in the East could do a lot more good than official ministerial parties who fly to other countries, are taken on guided tours and then fly back. That is not the way in which to get international understanding. Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.







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