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Wednesday, 5 May 1965


Senator MURPHY (New South Wales.) . - In the last few minutes we have been privileged to listen to some of the most alarming nonsense that has been stated in the Senate. Senator Scott said that we must be prepared to fight Communism wherever it rears its head.


Senator Scott - Yes, I said that.


Senator MURPHY - He acknowledges that that is what he said. What does that mean? If we look at the world today we find that there are many Communist countries including Russia and China. What he said boils down to this: That forthwith we should be fighting those countries. The honorable senator is silent now, but he made that statement notwithstanding the fact that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) today spoke of how this country went to war in 1914 and 1939 to fight for freedom and against aggression. Of course, in 1914 it went to war with Russia, and in 1939 it went to war with U.S.S.R., a Communist country, which was an ally of Australia in its battle against the Japanese whom' the honorable senator mentioned.

This shows that the scene in world politics changes from day to day. After the 1890's, again after the First World War, and yet again after the Second World War, the people of the world tried to achieve some kind of sanity in international relations, which would mean that the type of thinking advanced by the honorable senator would not obtain further in the world to perpetuate the bloodshed which has been occasioned by the stupidity of mankind throughout the ages. We have made an attempt - I hope it will be a successful attempt - to have a workable international organisation through the United Nations. If we fail, we fail, but we are trying, and for the sake of humanity I hope that we will succeed.

The issue which we are debating this evening is whether we approve of the sending of 800 Australian troops to Vietnam. The Australian Labour Party represents about half the people of Australia. We are unanimous in our disapproval of this action. We want the whole of the world to know that we, as representatives of the Australian people, consider that the action is not in the interests of Australia, that it is not in the interests of Vietnam and that it is not in the interests of the world. The people of India, Pakistan, Canada and other nations, which are close to us in their ideas, have expressed through their representatives disapproval of the extension of the war in Vietnam, and so they should. The war and participation in it is inconsistent with the United Nations Charter.

Why was the United Nations established? lt was established to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind; to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and all nations large and small; to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained; and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. It was established also to promote tolerance so that people could live in peace with one another and as good neighbours; to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security; to ensure by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods that armed force shall not be used save in the common interest; and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all people.

We, as a nation, along with most of the nations of the world, pledged ourselves to accept these principles and to act upon them. But we are not acting upon them. The purposes of the United Nations were and are to maintain international peace and security; to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace; and to suppress aggression. What are we doing? Are we taking collective action through the institution which we, along with other nations, participated in establishing? We are not. We are engaging in a military adventure. We are not engaging in collective action through the United Nations. We are not carrying out our obligations as we should carry them out. What hope has a small nation like Australia at the present stage of its development unless it uses international machinery for the suppression of wars and threats to peace?


Senator Buttfield - What hope has ii of persuading the United Nations to act?


Senator MURPHY - The honorable -senator has interrupted and has said, in effect, that the United Nations fails to act. We have not asked it to act. We participated in the establishment of this institution, which is the hope of mankind and especially of countries like ours. The machinery of the United Nations ought to be invoked by nations such as ours. We must attempt to have collective measures used to suppress any form of aggression or threat to peace in places such as South Vietnam. There will be another South Vietnam tomorrow. There will be other places all over the world, whether the Dominican Republic, parts of South America or Africa. We are going to have threats to peace as we have had over thousands of years and the nations on each side are going to say: " We are right. It is the others who are the aggressors, lt is the Communists, it is the Reds, the Blues, the Greens or the Yellows." It is always the other man who is wrong and we who are absolutely right. Maybe we are right in this instance. What we need to have is effective international machinery to preserve peace. We must not take any action which would detract from that machinery, and we ought to take action to bring it into effect.

The United Nations does have machinery which can be invoked. We have failed to take action to invoke it. There are others who ought to have taken action to invoke it. If there is any guilty man in this world in this instance it is the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I think he must bear some measure of the guilt. In my opinion he has been extremely weak. He is the chief administrative officer of the United Nations and he ought to have done more than he has. He has spoken about the nations involved in this conflict coming together. He has pleaded with them to come together but he has not taken effective action to bring them together. He ought to do this. He ought, on his own initiative, to summon a conference. It is true that he cannot compel them to come but he can say that if they do not come they will be judged by humanity for their failure to do so. The United States of America would then be given the opportunity of extracting itself from a position which it obviously wants to get out of.

Why should we, the Senate of Australia, be seeking to extend a conflict in South Vietnam when our brother senators in the

United States are pointing out, day after day, to their own Government that the extension of the war in South Vietnam is wrong and opposed not only to the interests of the world but to the interests of the United States? Honorable senators know that senators such as Wayne Morse of the United States are opposed to the course of action which means an extension of the war in South Vietnam. Honorable senators know that Senator Michael Mansfield of the United States is opposed to it. Michael Mansfield was one of the signatories to the treaty mentioned here today, the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. He is one of the men who signed the treaty on behalf of the United States. He has indicated that what is happening in South Vietnam is wrong, if honorable senators look at the treaty they will see that it requires the parties to observe the principles of the United Nations and to act in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Australia is pursuing the wrong course.


Senator Mattner - Is the honorable senator suggesting that we should just allow the Vietcong to walk in?


Senator MURPHY - The honorable senator suggests nonsense. What are we to achieve by our present course of action? The military solution was tried in Vietnam by France and it failed. It has been tried for many years by the United States and it has failed. If honorable senators examine the matter they will recognise that the military solution must fail if it is continued, and if we participate in it we will be parties to that failure. We ought not to be pursuing this course of failure. We ought to be helping our friend, the United States, to achieve the proper solution in South Vietnam. It is not a military solution. Senator Paltridge said tonight that there are other nations in South East Asia which are awaiting the same fate as South Vietnam. Surely that ought to make the Senate pause. What is being done about those places? We know that the troubles in South Vietnam are a legacy of history. We know that land reform, democracy and the equalisation of wealth are called for. I do not know a great deal about Thailand but I do know that until recently, and almost certainly up to the present time, there existed in that country a dictatorship; that it does not have the necessary land reform; that it does not have the necessary equalisation of wealth. What are we doing, and what are we inducing our great friend the United States to do, to correct these things before we have more threats to peace? Let us turn to what needs to be done in the world. Let us solve the problems before we allow a situation to develop where people revolt and seek some other solution.


Senator Mattner - That is why America is in South Vietnam. She is there for that very reason.


Senator MURPHY - The honorable senator says that that is why the United States is in South Vietnam. Has the United States invited Australia to go to South Vietnam? I have carefully listened to what has been said here and elsewhere and no person has said on behalf of the Government that the United States invited Australia to send troops to South Vietnam. No person has said that the Council of S.E.A.T.O. has done so and that that action has been taken in accordance with the treaty. It has been vaguely mentioned that in some way we are operating under S.E.A.T.O. In what way? When has action been taken under that treaty? It is incumbent on this Government, if it brings Australia into war - and at the moment we are at war with North Vietnam - to explain to the people of Australia in what way we became at war.

This is a most curious situation, Mr. President. Here we are, in 1965, going into an undeclared war. In 1939 when Great Britain went to war and the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Menzies as he then was, said that because Great Britain was at war Australia was automatically at war. Later, when Mr. Curtin became Prime Minister following a change of government, Australia, before it entered the war against the Japanese, convened its Parliament and decided to go to war against the Japanese. Here in 1965 we have entered an undeclared war against another nation. Under what circumstances? Was Parliament consulted prior to that decision? Was the Ministry consulted prior to that decision? We know that Parliament was not consulted. We know from the words spoken by Senator Gorton, a member of the Ministry and a member of the Executive Council, that he did not know about the decision. What stage of affairs have we reached in Australia when this Commonwealth can be brought into a war without prior consultation with Parliament and without prior consultation with the Ministry itself? The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has said that we have gone to war because we have been invited to do so by South Vietnam. By South Vietnam! By a government which is not elected by the people of South Vietnam, but appointed by a military clique. There has been a succession of governments in South Vietnam.


Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) - There have been 10 governments.


Senator MURPHY - Senator Turnbullinforms me that there have been 10 governments in that country. Most of those changes of government occurred during a period when it is said that the Australian Government was increasing its military aid to South Vietnam. We know that our Government has said that there has been no change in what Australia is doing. The Government says: " We committed ourselves two or three years ago to what we are doing today. We started sending people there - military instructors and advisers - and this is not a qualitative change. It is a quantitative change. Today we are sending a battalion of troops whereas before we sent advisers, instructors and so forth." Gentlemen of the Senate, that is not a true statement of the position. You know from your reading that, in the early stages, the United States of America was sending persons called instructors or advisers to South Vietnam because it had undertaken not to send military forces there. We were acting similarly. The pretence for a long time - it has been exploded by United States Senators - was that there were no military forces at all in Vietnam on behalf of the United States of America, and similarly that there were none there on behalf of Australia. That pretence has now been abandoned and we are sending military forces to Vietnam. We have engaged in an undeclared war. We are apparently not prepared to face the world and say that we are engaging in war and are prepared to declare war. Why? Because this would be a shocking breach of our duty to the United Nations. There is no escape from our paramount loyalty and paramount attachment. We have joined the United Nations and we are obliged to carry out its Charter. Whatever difficulties there may be and whatever defects there may be in the

Charter or in the United Nations Organisation itself that Organisation is the hope of mankind and we must adhere to it. 1 must correct what was said about the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He said not only that there was civil war in Vietnam but also that there was aggression from the north. Whatever are the rights or wrongs in Vietnam or in other parts of the world, the only true course for the Australian people to follow is to invoke the United Nations Charter, to invoke regional arrangements made under that Charter, and to act so that we will gain the respect of the world. How can we face the other nations of Asia when we show that we are prepared to enter into a conflict that divides them, whenever the United States of America is involved, even though there has been no request from the United States for us to do so? Let us hear no more of the requirements of partnerships or alliances. There has been no request from the United States of America that we enter Vietnam. Why should we do it in this manner, by sending troops? Why should we enter into war in flagrant breach of our duty to the nations of the world under the United Nations Charter? I join in the unanimous view of the Australian Labour Party, representing half the people of Australia, that the action of the Government deserves complete and utter disapproval.







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