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Wednesday, 5 May 1965

Senator SCOTT (Western Australia) . - I have listened to a very interesting speech by Senator Cole on behalf of the Democratic Labour Party in which, as its leader, he gave the reasons why his party supports the Government's proposal to send a battalion of troops to South Vietnam, at the request of its Prime Minister, to help that country in its time of peril. I am amazed that we do not have the full co-operation of members of the Opposition. If ever a study has been made of the world position, it has been done today by thinking people, including Australians. Today, Communist China is using its satellites in North Vietnam and in other places. It has publicly stated that its one aim is to gain complete control of the world and that in doing so it is prepared to enter an all out war and incur losses of 3 million to 4 million of its people.

Honorable senators on this side of the chamber believe that we should not allow the various countries fighting Communism throughout the world to fall, one by one, without giving them our assistance. If we do not help the South Vietnamese defend themselves against the infiltration of the Vietcong from Communist North Vietnam, South Vietnam will be overrun and we will quickly see the Communists gain control of the whole of the landed area of South East Asia, including Thailand and Cambodia. When that result is achieved, probably the Communists will help Indonesia to crush Malaysia. The next step will be for the Indonesians to cross the West Irian border and possibly fight our own people in East New Guinea. As the aims of the Communists are a matter of record, it is our duty as a nation to heed the request of the Government of South Vietnam for assistance. As a result of that request the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) last Thursday evening at 8 o'clock made the important statement which was repeated in the Senate last Tuesday. In his statement, the Prime Minister points out that the Government has pursued its policy of help to South East Asia for some time. We have made financial gifts to assist the development of South Vietnam. That development will not be completed if we do not come to the assistance of South Vietnam. North Vietnam, through the assistance of Communist China, will gain complete control of South Vietnam. .

In his speech today, the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) covered the problems and the developments of Communist China. According to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) Communist China is reputed not to have a lot of equipment. Yet it was able to equip 100,000 troops to cross the border of India; it was able to equip large numbers of troops to defeat Tibet. So we have a picture of what the Communist movement is doing in Asia. We, as a Government, are anxious to stop aggression and infiltration by the North Vietnamese. We learn that America at this moment has in the vicinity of 30,000 troops in South Vietnam in an endeavour to stop the aggression by the North Vietnam Government against South Vietnam.

We look with horror at the terrible time that the whole of South East Asia has gone through in the past 20 years. Looking at history we see that Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were the three countries that formed Indo China. Over 100 years ago the French established missionaries in the area. They did not quite follow the pattern that was set up by the Spaniards and the Portuguese in the 16th century, who went in there principally for commercial reasons. The French interest was more or less on political grounds and of the 30 million Vietnamese - about 14 million in the south and 16 million in the north - the missionaries were able to recruit about 2 million Catholics. When the missionaries were attacked, the French Government sent in troops to protect them. About 50 or 60 years ago there were skirmishes between the French and the lndo Chinese and many Frenchmen who were endeavouring to protect their missionaries were killed. On one occasion in the bay at Saigon, eight French warships were tied up adjacent to 12 Chinese warships. On instructions from the French the 12 Chinese warships were sunk. During the Second World War the Japanese, prior to their defeat, took control of these areas. After 1945 turmoil existed until 1954, when the Geneva Agreement was signed. Between 1 946 and 1 954 the rise of the Vietminh, the Communist guerrillas in Vietnam, created havoc and confusion. They fought the French wherever they could. In 1950, to the best of my knowledge, Mao Tse-tung sent down to the headquarters of Ho Chi Minh a number of people to educate Ho Chi Minh and his followers in the guerrilla warfare methods that the Chinese had used. These forces grew in strength and finally defeated the French regime.

Under the 1954 Geneva Agreement both sides agreed that the Communists would take control of Vietnam above the 17th parallel and that the Vietnamese living south of that parallel would be controlled by a democratic system. The North Vietnamese ruled their country with a rod of iron. Revolts occurred in the capital, Hanoi, and bloodshed spread from one end of the country to the other. Complete control of the population was gained. When the Geneva Agreement was signed, about 60,000 South Vietnamese who belonged to the Communist Party, or Vietcong, went north to North Vietnam to remain under its rule. I do not know that the number was 60,000, but I have that figure at the back of my mind and I am subject to correction in that respect. There they were taught by the North Vietnamese the methods of guerrilla warfare that had been passed on by Mao Tse-tung. They have gradually infiltrated south, creating havoc and disaster in the villages of South Vietnam, making government there difficult and even shooting some members of the South Vietnam democratic government. We have seen aggression and infiltration in this area, but despite this in the 10 years since the Geneva Agreement was signed there has been an increase in the national productivity; and I believe that if the Communist infiltrators are withdrawn South Vietnam can go on to become a prosperous country.

The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), opening the debate on behalf of the Opposition, made one or two statements that I should like to answer. If I understood him correctly, he said that Labour urged that the parties be asked to meet at the conference table and that the United Nations should be approached to intervene. First, I want to talk about getting the parties concerned to the conference table. This, of course, is the aim of the Western powers. This, of course, is the aim of the Australian Government. But if you want to have a conference of the parties concerned you must, if you can, entice the North Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, to the conference table. Have we not heard that on 7th April this year President Johnson put forward the proposition that the American Government would make available to the countries concerned, without any strings attached, the sum of 1,000 million dollars provided they would attend a conference and settle their disputes?

Senator Mattner - Peacefully.

Senator SCOTT - That is right, peacefully. No sooner was the offer made than a reply was received from Hanoi and Peking to the effect that they would not have a bar of it. They said: " If you want to come to terms with us, you must first remove your troops from Vietnam ". If I remember correctly, a similar position arose in Laos between 1960 and 1962 when the warring factions agreed that they would set up a neutral government immediately provided the Communist commanders in Laos, and the United States, removed their troops. What did we find? The Americans withdrew completely from Laos and within three months the Communists attacked again.

We want to find out, and find out to our own satisfaction, who are the aggressors in this situation. One would think that the Americans were the aggressors from what we have heard from Opposition members. It is clear in my mind, from the statements that have been made by President Johnson and by others speaking on his behalf, that provided an effective solution can be found in South Vietnam whereby a democratic government can be elected and allowed to control its own affairs, whereby North Vietnam will agree not to send its people south along the Ho Chi Minh trail and infiltrate them into South Vietnam to upset the Government of that country, then we can expect peace. But the aggressors are the North Vietnamese. It is agreed that every year thousands of infiltrators, trained in the arts of sabotage and guerrilla warfare, are sent by North Vietnam into South Vietnam to cause havoc among the South Vietnamese people. This is tragic. I believe that the Australian Government's move in sending 800 troops to fortify the 100 specialists we already have in South Vietnam training the South Vietnamese soldiers, is a move to help the Americans gain what they require - a peaceful settlement.

Since the Americans decided to bomb supply lines, and bases in North Vietnam where military equipment is manufactured and stored, many people have raised their hands in horror and have said that neither America nor any Western power should attack. In other words, they say that we should just sit there to be shot at. According to their argument, we should endeavour to stop the North Vietnamese infiltrating into South Vietnam by guarding, if we can, the whole of the frontier. This cannot be done. When these infiltrators are captured they are found to be equipped with modern weapons and the machinery of war. They use the equipment to blast fear into the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese people so that they can gain their objective. What is the objective that they hope to achieve? They hope to achieve, in this instance, complete control of the whole of Vietnam. They hope to place the whole country under the control of North Vietnam which, of course, is a satellite of Peking.

We, as a Government, have said: " Thank goodness we have an America which is prepared to help these under developed nations protect themselves in their hour of peril ". If America had not stepped in and occupied itself in an endeavour to prevent

South Vietnam becoming Communist, South Vietnam would have been a Communist country by now. I want to say - this affects every person in Australia - that if we are not prepared to fight Communism where we see it rear its head, in a very few years we will be fighting Communism in this country.

Senator Ormonde - Oh!

Senator SCOTT - The honorable senator may say " oh ". Let me tell him that I have no doubt that the Communists have prepared a plan to conquer the whole of South East Asia, and for this purpose Australia is included in South East Asia.

Senator Mattner - The richest jewel.

Senator SCOTT - The richest jewel that they can get in South East Asia is the country in which we are living. If we can help the Americans stem the flow of Communism from coming further south, we will be playing our part in this sphere. If we and the Americans are successful in helping the South Vietnamese to restore the conditions of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 so that a democratically elected government can control South Vietnam and prevent the onrush of the Communists, the Communist programme in this area will be put back at least 20 to 25 years. This is what we are fighting for at the present time.

Mr. President,we saw the great help that was given to us in the dark days of the last world war when America, after Pearl Harbour, came to our assistance. We remember very well that the British battleships " Repulse " and " Prince of Wales " were sunk overnight off the coast of Malaya. We knew that we could expect very little help from the British because they were occupied fully in Europe and the Middle East. The Americans said, in response to a request by the Australian Government: " We will come to your assistance and help you ". Within a period of a few months there were approximately 1 million American troops on Australian soil. They had come to help us. The Americans are helping the free world at the present time through their endeavours to protect the South Vietnamese. I believe that the Australian Government is doing the correct thing in sending a token force of a battalion of 800 men to fulfil its obligations in this very important region.

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