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Wednesday, 5 May 1965


Senator LILLICO (Tasmania) .- There is, I think, only one part of Senator Kennelly's speech with which I agree - that a lot of the trouble in South East Asia and, in fact, in the world today is due to the failure of the United Nations to act as a peace keeping force throughout the world. This position has arisen very largely because little more than lip service has been given to the United Nations by the nations which comprise it. Be that as it may, we have to accept the position as it exists.

Our attitude of mind towards what has been done by the Commonwealth Government in this matter depends on our perspective and the way in which we view the situation in South East Asia. I am one of those who believe that having regard to the future security of this country the Government, by its actions, took just about the only course that it could take. I believe it was entirely necessary for Australia to be associated with the United States of America, the only country on earth which can afford us adequate protection against what I believe to be the Communist drive down through South East Asia.

Senator McKennasaid that we should have given only moral support to what the United States is doing in South Vietnam. But only a few minutes after making that statement he said that we in Australia depend upon the United States for our survival. If that is so, and if when the testing time came for Australia the United States were to give us only moral support, just where would we stand? There are people who very often attempt to deal with awkward facts by pretending that they do not exist, by arguing that they do not exist or by trying to write them down. We heard Senator McKenna, in particular, attempting to write down the aggressive potentiality of Communist China. That was effectively crushed, I think, by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) who followed him in the debate. I, in common with the other honorable senators, receive communications from people from time to time. They always attempt to ignore the aggression committed by the North Vietnamese, aided and abetted by the Communist Chinese, against the people of South Vietnam. They try to make out that it does not exist. lt was said today that the situation in Vietnam is in effect a civil war, and because it is a civil war we, along with other people perhaps, should not interfere. If that attitude were adopted in respect of every example of Communist aggression, the Communist movement throughout the world, with its dedication to world conquest, would go from triumph to triumph. Whenever the Communists attempted to take over a country, it would be argued that it was only a civil war. Even if they came to the shores of this country, there are fools in the Com monwealth who would take the side of the invader because he supported an " ism " to which they were particularly partial.

Much has been said about South Vietnam. I was very interested to read a publication that was issued by the American State Department. There are two volumes of the publication. The second volume gives documented evidence relating to North Vietnamese soldiers who had been captured in South Vietnam. Photographs are given and there is a verbatim account of the interrogation to which they were subjected. It seemed to me to be perfectly plain. But leaving that aside, in the beginning of the publication there are extracts from speeches by members of various Communist organisations and by Communist leaders in North Vietnam and Communist China, including Ho Chi Minh. The resolutions which have been passed by the Communist congresses deal with what these people propose to do regarding South Vietnam. There are so many extracts in the publication that I will not attempt to read all of them, but one of the resolutions refers to the intention " to liberate South Vietnam from the ruling yoke of the United States ", and it emphasises again and again that the slogan to be adopted must be that North Vietnam is the revolutionary base for the whole of the country. The Communists have not sought in any way to disguise their intentions. They have been perfectly frank and clear.

Senator Kennellyreferred to production figures in South Vietnam. This publication also deals with that matter. It states, and it is undoubtedly true, that in 1955 when the Republic of South Vietnam came into being its economy was a shambles, but because of outside aid and because of the versatility of the people, rapid reconstruction took place. The output of the people was inincreased. There were tremendous reconstructive efforts all over the country. The position that exists between South Vietnam and North Vietnam resembles the position that exists in Europe today between East Germany and West Germany. The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a Labour man not partial to honorable senators on this side of the chamber, politically at least, made this statement -

For a time both parts continued to endeavour to put themselves in order and make economic and social progress. Those possibilities remained open until, in 1959, there was a call from the Government of North Vietnam for an intensification of the Vietcong activities in the south and for full-scale guerrilla warfare against the Government of South Vietnam. Not only did the northern government call for that, they then proceeded to help it wilh more weapons and military advice, as was made clear by the majority report of the International Control Commission in 1962.

Sitting suspended from 5.46 till 8 p.m.


Senator LILLICO - Mr. Deputy President, I was saying before the suspension of the sitting that there had been real progress in South Vietnam after it secured its independence. Official figures bear that out. Productivity had risen and the condition of the people had improved until, in 1959, according to the International Control Commission, the order went forth from North Vietnam that activities against the Government of South Vietnam were to be stepped up and that guerrilla warfare was to be introduced in a country which lends itself admirably to it. One of the results of that order was that hundreds of schools were closed because the school teachers were murdered. Public officials of all kinds were similarly treated, more especially the public health officials, in an attempt to bring governmental services to a halt. Transport was dislocated. Under the conditions that were brought about by the activities of the Vietcong it was difficult to imagine just how the lot of the people could be improved, how there could be any progress, and how there could be any election of a popular government as we know elections in this country. Undoubtedly, the aim and object of the Vietcong activities was to bring the country to such a pass that governmental activities and all progress would be brought to a standstill.

I heard the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) discussing this matter on television. He said that no money should be spent on military aid to South Vietnam whatsoever but that it should be channelled into means of improving the standard of living of the people. At the time he said this I thought: " Well, if a man's house was on fire he would not think of ordering a wall to wall carpet. The first thing he would do would be to attempt to put the fire out and then he would repair the damage." Of course, that is the position in South Vietnam and the object of the Vietcong activities which undoubtedly have been poised from and are based on North Vietnam is as I have stated it.

The case put up by the Opposition falls into three categories: First, the Opposition writes down the aggressive tendencies of Red China. Secondly, the Opposition minimises the potential for aggression of Red China. Thirdly, it designates this trouble in South Vietnam as more in the nature of a civil war. Before the suspension of the sitting, Senator Kennelly said that Australia's contribution towards the armed forces in South Vietnam was so small that it was not worth bothering about. He chided the Government for some time on that aspect and on the intervention of Australia in the conflict. If that had been the spirit which animated this country in the last two World Wars no expeditionary forces would have left Australia. We could have said quite easily that Australia had such a small population and our potential was so small that we could contribute little in the aggregate. We could have left it to our allies and stayed out of it. Honorable senators should remember the last war and the desperate message which was sent to this same United States of America to come and help us when we were threatened right here on our own territory. We felt that we were unable to stem the invader. It is to the credit of Australia that that attitude has not prevailed in the past; that we in Australia have been prepared to pull our weight and not to stay at home and leave it all to our allies. That seems to me to be the attitude of the Opposition to what is happening in South Vietnam today.

The Opposition's case has fallen into those three categories. When we consider it, that is just precisely the way that the Opposition would attack this matter of South Vietnam. The Opposition cannot think of any other way in which to attack it but the trouble is that the attack is not convincing. If ever a power on earth has proclaimed far and wide over a long period its intention of aggression it is Red China. Its leaders have on all occasions stated their intention of spreading their doctrine throughout South East Asia. In point of fact that is the main cause of the split between Red China and the Communist leaders in Moscow. Red

China says that Moscow is not aggressive enough. This incursion into South Vietnam is posed from North Vietnam, aided, abetted and supported by Red China. As the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) said this afternoon, notice has been served on Thailand. When trouble breaks out in Thailand, if it does, surely it will be in the category of a civil war. The Opposition says that the trouble in South Vietnam is more in the nature of a civil war and that Australia should have no part in it. It is correct, I think, that Thailand is next on the list. Undoubtedly this same trouble will break out in that country and it will develop very largely in the nature of a civil war. Is the Opposition going to use the same argument then and say: " Oh no, we cannot do anything about this; it is a civil war"? Undoubtedly those who promote the trouble will be aided, organised and supplied from Red China, through its satellites. If Thailand falls to the Red tide then what? Surely, Laos and Cambodia could then be written off.


Senator Laught - Also Burma.


Senator LILLICO - Yes. I think you could write that off. And then what? There is the whole of South East Asia gone. Are the Communists going to stop short of Australia? No, they will keep on coming. I say this because of the policy pursued by Red China, and for no other reason. Then what are we going to do about it? Are we going to send a message for assistance to the United States of America after we have allowed the U.S.A., as it were, to stew in its own juice in South Vietnam? Is that what we want? 1 do not think there is any doubt whatever that the pattern is clear. I have said before that one thing that can be said about the Communists is that they have never sought to disguise their intentions. In fact, they have said quite frankly and plainly what they propose to do. Are we going to allow them to continue? Are we, who - do not forget this - are to be the ultimate goal of this line of attack going to do nothing about it? Are we going to walk out on our ally and leave her to bear the brunt? Is it not better to try to stem this thing at its source, before it gains so much momentum that it will be almost impossible to stop? That is the position as it appears to me.

I do not think there is any doubt that the appetite of the Communist powers is insati able. There is no limit to it. World conquest is their avowed objective; they are dedicated to subjugating the whole of the world. Only the blind could fail to see that, because it has been so constantly put before us. It has been clear for 20 years and to refuse to see it reminds me of what the late Sir Winston Churchill said about the neutral nations in 1938 and 1939. He said that they gaped and chattered and proclaimed their neutrality on every possible occasion until, one by one, they fell into Hitler's maw.


Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - Should we attack Red China immediately, in your opinion?


Senator LILLICO - I think the attack launched by Red China should certainly be stemmed. There is no doubt whatever about the truth of the contention of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the trouble in South Vietnam is part and parcel of a Communist drive down through South East Asia. We have been confronted with so much overwhelming evidence of this that I repeat that only the blind would fail to accept it. However that may be, T am one of those who do not fear for the free world so long as its heart is sound. But one is filled with concern when one sees the attitude of mind of some people, not only in this country but also in the United States of America. We, in Australia, believe in freedom of expression and, of course, the people to whom I have referred are entitled to express their views. But when one reads statements and resolutions by people who are supposed to be educated - I refer particularly to resolutions carried in my own State by a body calling itself the Australian Council of Churches and, previously, by sundry bishops - one wonders whether they do not understand that there can be no peace with Communism because it will not have peace.

There can be no peace with Communism unless it is confronted with a force equal or superior to its own. There can be no negotiation with Communism, except from a position of strength. As a case in point, ex-President Harry Truman has told us that by the time the Potsdam Conference was held in Berlin every agreement entered into at Yalta had been broken by the Communists and they were in process at that time of breaking the very agreements they were signing at Potsdam, making the whole thing a farce. Yet there are people, including some ministers of religion, who believe that we should supinely acquiesce and accept the eventual domination of this evil thing which would sweep away the traditions that British people have built up over the centuries - traditions that have made us the free-est and most prosperous community on earth. If that attitude of mind is widespread within the free world, I despair. But I do not think it is. 1 believe that the average thinking Australian realises just what is involved in the condition of affairs that exists in South East Asia today.

Week by week Indonesia is working more than ever in cohesion with Peking. When Sukarno goes, then what? Will Indonesia be a Communist state? According to today's Press a British Minister told the South East Asia Treaty Organisation conference that the Indonesians were referring to Australia as South Irian. There is a real danger of the whole of South East Asia becoming a Communist bloc with all the aggressive Communist tendencies. More than that, the Communists are completely dedicated to aggression and anyone who thinks we should shirk our responsibility to help in stemming this tide is going to be very sadly disillusioned. I support what the Government has done and I repeat what I said at the outset: Under all the conditions that exist the Government could not do other than what it has done, having regard to the eventual safety of this country. Unfortunately, there are still thoughtful people in Australia who do not understand the position.







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