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Wednesday, 5 May 1965


Senator COLE (Tasmania) (Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party) . - Senator Lillico has put the whole thing in its right perspective. As Senator McKenna conceded earlier in the debate, throughout the world today there is a fight for the minds of men. Many people cannot see that the struggle in South East Asia is one in which the Communist north is trying to capture the minds of men. I thought Senator McKenna made rather heavy weather of the very difficult role that he had to play. I often think that to be trained as a lawyer must be an excellent grounding for a politician because men so trained always seem to be able to bring forward quite substantial arguments even though they are not expressing their own convictions.

I believe that quite a number of the Australian Labour Party members have not a full conviction that what the Government is doing is wrong. I have heard them say many times that the front line of Australia's defence can be found in South East Asia. That is what the whole of this argument hinges upon - where is the front line of Australia's defence? That is, of course, if you accept that we will be under attack and that there is an aggressive move southward towards Australia. I believe that 95 per cent, of Australians believe that there is an aggressive move towards Australia. I believe also that within the borders of Australia there is an incipient fifth column that has to be brought out into the light.

I am rather pleased that the Government is following now the policies that were espoused by the Democratic Labour Party three or four years ago to overcome the aggressive move towards Australia. It is acting a little late, however. If the policies that have now been adopted by the Americans - and which we advocated four years ago - had been followed at that time, we would not have been in this position today. The strength that has been opposing the, American forces today would not have been in the present position if the course we advocated had been adopted. The Democratic Labour Party advocated the disruption of the supply routes and the Ho Chi Minh trail. Everybody said that that would be aggression and could not be done. So those responsible held off for four years. They are active now but they would not have needed the men and equipment now being utilised and the lives of civilians and soldiers would not have been lost if our words had been heeded four years ago.

This applies also to Australia. As a nation, we seem to be frightened of our responsibilities in this area. We were frightened of them in relation to West Irian. I am pleased that the Government at this late stage is taking a definite stand. We in Australia have a great land that needs development. It could become a tremendous country in 40, 50 or 60 years if we are allowed to function in our own way; but unless we can get a unanimous feeling within Australia to defend it so that we may develop it, I am afraid that we will not have an opportunity to develop it as we wish. I appeal to all parties to forget the political aspects of this matter and to put all they have into forming a defence line stretching right through Malaysia, Thailand and South Vietnam so that we will not be in the horrifying position of defending our own country on our own shores. Our great ally, the United States of America, is assisting us with all her tremendous resources and manpower and we must grasp the opportunity to form a strong defence line.

Yet 1 heard honorable senators ask today: " Why should we send our soldiers to Vietnam to be killed?" Why is the United States sending her troops to Vietnam? She is not in immediate danger; we are. Yet people are saying that we should not send our men to defend Vietnam. People speak of the blood that is likely to be spilled. Maybe soldiers will be killed. One or two Australians have been killed in Vietnam already. But the chances of our troops being killed in this area probably will be comparable with the chances one takes when going for a drive in a motor car in Sydney or Melbourne any weekend. Now is the time to grasp our opportunity. Our men are not going to Vietnam for dollars but for our own protection.

The Government showed common sense in grasping this opportunity to maintain American interest in this part of the world. The Americans could quite easily withdraw. If they did, it would not affect the defence of the United States of America. We are only on the outer fringe of American defence and could easily be dropped. The United States could turn to her inner defence lines taking in the Hawaiian Islands. So we have to grasp this opportunity. It should not be said that because we are sending only a battalion of 800 men, the help we are offering is insignificant. It is not. The morale of our fighting forces has been noted throughout the wars of this century. We did not have such a great number of men at El Alamein but their exploits are still talked about.

Some have said that because we are sending men it will stop us from negotiating. There is no such thing as negotiation with Communist countries. There is an appearance of negotiation but it is only an appearance so that they can weaken their opponents and develop their own strength in other ways. Communism, in various guises, has set out to rule the world. While there are people who are stupid enough to adopt Communist ideas and while others, under various names, are prepared to support them, Communism will gradually overcome the world. Some people want that, of course, including quite a number in Australia. But the great majority of people do not want it. They must wake up to themselves.

We are told that the position in South Vietnam is not very good for our side, shall we call it. Many people are saying that we cannot win in these areas and that therefore we should not send our troops to them. I do not believe that. I believe that we will win in South Vietnam. I believe that the United States has decided that she will win and that that is why she is pouring in troops.


Senator Morris - They are determined to win.


Senator COLE - They are determined to win. They can win, and they will win. As I said a moment ago, it is suggested that we cannot win and that therefore we should not send troops there. To say that is to adopt a defeatist attitude. I should like to see the people of Australia wholly behind the Government in the policy it is now following. Still more will have to be done. By sending a battalion to South Vietnam we are not weakening the defences of Australia, as was stated today. Rather are we strengthening the defences of Australia, because in doing so we have beside us a very great ally. If we were attacked on another flank, we would not have to rely on the few men who are available in Australia but would have the help of an ally who would pour in troops to help defend this country.

I am hoping that the Australian Labour Party will change its attitude on this matter. Let members of the Labour Party forget that they constitute the Opposition and that therefore they must say something in opposition to what the Government is doing. Why must Opposition senators take up these shibboleths that we hear and trot them forward? In doing so they are only doing what Communists within Australia and outside the country want them to do. The Labour Party is much bigger than that. Members of the Labour Party attend meetings of peace councils and that sort of thing but they are not doing anything realistic. I note that a notice headed " Stop the War in Vietnam " has been issued in which people are invited to attend a meeting in Melbourne on Saturday next. It invites those interested to assemble at the American Embassy. From there they will march to the Punt Road Methodist Church hall, where I presume they will talk about peace and make a nuisance of themselves. The notice states -

Prominent speakers include Dr. J. F. Cairns, M.H.R.


Senator Murphy - More power to him.


Senator COLE - That is what I would expect from the honorable senator. The chairman of the meeting, of course, will be the Rev. A. M. Dickie. The meeting is sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament. We know that that was classified not so long ago as being a real Communist front.


Senator Cavanagh - By the honorable senator and the Government.


Senator COLE - Not only by my party and the Government, but by many other people as well. Naturally, I would expect you to be a member of it.


Senator Cavanagh - I am, with many thousands of others.


Senator COLE - That sort of thing has to be stopped if we want to save this country. The Labour Party is big enough to stand on its own feet and not be used as an instrument of Communist propaganda. All the arguments that have been brought forward today in opposition to the sending of troops to South Vietnam could have been read in the " Guardian " or the " Tribune " last week. Let those who advanced such arguments get away from the idea that they will do much good.

There is one matter in relation to which it is time that the Liberal Party became a little more realistic. I refer to trade with Red China. The Government has stated that China is the aggressor, that she is sweeping down towards Australia, and that Australia could be destroyed if she is not stopped. I do not know how the Government can reconcile such statements with the help that is given to private enterprise to trade with a country which will overwhelm us if it is not defeated. It is time that the Government took a very stern look at trade with Red China.


Senator Marriott - Is the honorable senator referring to wheat?


Senator COLE - I do not care whether it is trade in wheat or anything else. One does not trade with one's enemy.


Senator Marriott - Is it not adopting a Christian attitude to help to feed starving millions?

Senaor COLE. - No, it is not adopting a Christian attitude, because the wheat is not needed.

Sentaor Marriott. - Does the honorable senator want them to die?


Senator COLE - It takes about 117 million tons a year to feed those people. We send them a very small fraction of the quantity of food that they need and most of that is used for re-exportation to other countries; it is not used to feed their own people.


Senator Marriott - The wheat is being re-exported?


Senator COLE - Yes.


Senator Marriott - Has the honorable senator any proof of that?


Senator COLE - If the honorable senator is too lazy to read about this sort of thing, he will continue to make foolish remarks. He talks about feeding the multitudes. Perhaps we are feeding them. What we are doing is feeding their Army with our wheat and clothing their Army with our wool. The uniforms worn by the combatants in the Tibetan war were made from our wool. The Government is doing the strong thing but it has to go further. It must stop trading with Red China. That trading will stop automatically in a few years if the trend continues and unless the American policy becomes much stronger. I am hoping that it will. We are standing in a very dangerous position, but we do not have to occupy that position. It has been said that Red China does not have the ships to allow her troops to sweep down into this country, but it is not the Red Chinese who will come. Australia will be invaded by the countries dominated by Red China, when the time is ripe. It is not necessary to look too far to our north to discover Indonesia with a population of 80 million to 100 million people living in a small area. That country could provide sufficient forces for the invasion of Australia under a Communist regime.

Honorable senators know as well as I do that Indonesia could quite easily become a Communist country when certain things happen. As Senator Lillico said, Australia has been referred to as South Irian in Indonesia. Indonesia already has taken West Irian and it seems that it could quite easily move towards obtaining East Irian. In the thinking of the Indonesians, Australia is South Irian.

We are in such a dangerous position that we must take steps at once to ensure that when the threat increases we can cope with it. lt is vital that we become essential to American defence planning. The United States will not do great things for us just because the Americans believe we are not a bad lot of people. They will take every step to safeguard themselves and we must make ourselves absolutely essential to their defence. At present, we are essential to the outer perimeter of their defence structure. By moving to help them in South Vietnam we are making ourselves more essential so that when our testing time comes we will have support from the United States. I am pleased to see that the Government is carrying out the policies advocated by my party three or four years ago. I hope that it will continue in that direction and, as quickly as possible, stop our trading with Red China.







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