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Thursday, 13 May 1965


Senator CORMACK (Victoria) .- Mr. President,I think I must tell the Senate a little story before 1 begin my speech on this Bill. Undoubtedly there are great numbers of people in another place who from time to time have decided that they were spared the infliction of my presence in that place. What honorable senators do not know is that out of the kindness of his heart Senator Kennelly was responsible for preventing me adorning the House of Representatives and so compelled nic eventually, in the process of political time, to enter into the Senate, where I find myself face to face with him.


Senator Kennelly - One can always make mistakes.


Senator CORMACK - I think Senator Kennelly would be the first to agree that we have been at opposite poles of politics in (he State of Victoria from which we both come. There is a vast area in terms of the social requirements of the community in which we live and which we represent in the Senate, but he is at the south pole, at is were, and I am at the north pole as far as the problem of defence is concerned.

I.   am not going to claim that we on this side of the Senate are always right, but I think that, in term's of the problem of defence, we tend to be more right than our political friends who sit on the other side of the table.


Senator O'Byrne - The honorable senator has never had a chance to test the Government's policy in wartime. The Government has never been in office in wartime.


Senator CORMACK - I am not talking about wartime. The honorable senator is talking about wartime. [ am talking about defence. Wartime is the end extension of the problem of defence. In this debate we are involved, nol in a problem of war in this debate but in a problem of defence. That is what the Defence Bill, which was passed through the Senate this morning was concerned with, and the secondary Bill, which we are discussing at the present time, is a second expression of the defence problem. But in the debate which has taken place on the Defence Bill and the current debate, this matter has been taken straight into the problem of war. Surely, in the very use of the expression " defence " we are involved in a problem of trying to prevent war. That is the essence, I suggest, of this Bill.

I now turn to a phrase which I read in a newsletter that I found lying in the Senate Government Party room. The phrase, perhaps, sums up the attitudes of both the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Kennelly to the whole of this problem. Both honorable senators are descended from people for whom I have not only a great affection but also immense respect. This race of people, which came from Ireland, has done more to sustain the concept of law, order and justice in the Anglo-Saxon sense than any other race in the world, and these people have given more to the political life in Australia than perhaps any other migrants who came into Australia in the early days. I refer with the greatest of respect to both Senator Kennelly and also Senator Sir Alister McMullin, who are descended from Ireland-


Senator Mattner - Senator McKenna?


Senator CORMACK - Yes, that is right.


Senator Mattner - The honorable senator, said Senator Sir Alister McMullin-


Senator CORMACK - Yes. I meant our esteemed President who is also a descendant from Ireland. It is an unusual point of

I contact between the President and Senator Kennelly. This newsletter to which I have referred says that one of the characteristics of the Irish, whom I love, as I said, unreservedly, is that when they are involved in an argument or dispute, they are too polite, so it says here, to say that the other person is wrong. In another way, the newsletter says -

Instead, he will turn to a third party and say that it's a rare thing indeed, to see a cat with a saddle on him.

I say without any attempt to be facetious that Senator Kennelly and other members of the Australian Labour Party are involved in a matter of immense difficulty, because that Party traditionally is a Party which does not want, and did not want, to get itself involved in what it called the quarrels of (he old world. This was a characteristic of the qualities that distinguished the Australian Labour Party, I suggest, for the last 60 or 70 years.

Because of the change of circumstances that exist in the world today, we in Australia find ourselves suddenly rocketed into responsibilities that relate to the defence of this country in isolation. In other words, we are now involved in the problem of setting up a defence structure by which this country may exist on its own if need be. If it cannot exist on its own if need be, then it has to seek allies. We have them. But, on the other hand, we cannot have an ally unless we are willing to serve in the common interest of ourselves and our ally on the same terms in which our ally is involved. We cannot expect American soldiers, airman or naval men to defend Australia unless we are willing to do that which they are prepared to do in the wider interest. We are not involved in the problem of the defence of Australia as an island continent. We are involved in the problem of morality which exists and which we have in common with our ally, the United States of America. I feel that this has to be said.

Senator Kennelly,I think with some justice, riding this saddled cat that I have just mentioned, has been talking about the problem of when do you commit your forces? The honorable senator makes a rhetorical distinction as to what is a state of war, what is a state of emergency, and suggests a third factor which exists in relation to, and is harnessed with, the problem of the dispatch of an Australian battalion to Vietnam. The oddity of this situation is that in all our lifetime, and in the lifetimes of our fathers and grandfathers - and even long before them - the problem of what constitutes a state of war was always easily discernible, because, in the western European philosophical concept at least, a war did not take place until there was a declaration of war. But a new morality has been introduced into world affairs in the 20th century which may be described, if there is such a morality, as the Communist morality - that is, that you can have a war that is not a war. There is no caucus belli. There is no proclamation of the war in the formal sense which we have known for some hundreds of years.

The people of our race, and our concepts in terms of law, order and justice, are now involved in a totally different problem - that there can exist a war which is yet not a proclaimed war. This is not something which has been invented by the people of the United States, the people of Great Britain, the people of Australia and the people of New Zealand-


Senator Ormonde - It is continuous.

Senator CORMACK__This is the new morality, relating to armed conflict, which has been invented by the Communist powers: You can have a war which is not a war. It is not a proclaimed war; yet, in fact, it is a war. If this situation is admitted - I think it must admitted because it is axiomatic and self-evident - then the state of affairs exists where there is no proclaimed war but there is a situation which is at least precedent to the proclamation of a war. It is a state of emergency, which must be an act of judgment. You therefore arrive at a situation relating to the defence of Australia not based on what Senator McKenna, with his traditional knowledge of constitutional law, said it was based. Senator Kennelly, with his background and experience in these matters, supported his lender. As I see it, we have a situation in which the physical integrity of the people of Australia, New Zealand or the United States of America may be prejudiced, not by a proclaimed war but by a situation so dangerous as to be antecedent to war. lt is therefore necessary for the nation concerned - whichever it may be - to adopt a posture of readiness to meet what might become, in common parlance, a hot war.

These are inescapable factors of the situation in which we in this world find ourselves. Instead of the old concept of circumstances advancing towards a proclamation of war, we are in a secondary phase - a situation of high emergency precedent to war - and therefore nations must adopt a national defence posture which will put them in a position of readiness should a slate of war come about. But the whole of our defence legislation in the past has been based on meeting a situation of declared war. Because of lack of adequate communications and the short range of the then existing weapons there was always in the past a period in which you could at least begin to assemble your armed forces to meet a situation that you could reasonably anticipate. Those circumstances do not exist today. There is no declared war, but instead a period of danger in which the nation could face annihilation overnight. Therefore this impetus which has been engendered by the Communist morality - to use a purely philosophical term - is one from which we cannot escape. We are involved in this problem. Whatever the political nature of an Australian government any government would be recreant to the duty for which it was elected if it did not put the people of Australia in a state of readiness to meet the position which I have just outlined. In essence that is the problem in which we are involved in relation to these two Bills.

I cannot refrain from mentioning Senator Kennedy's statement that this action has been taken by the Government in two stages. I thought I detected in Senator Kennelly's remarks - with all my admiration for him as a very able political organiser - a suggestion that the Government has brought in these two Bills as an act of chicane against the electors. I do not accept that. I think the problem we are facing has always been inherent to defence. The change in Australia's defence requirements has been so vast, so intensive, that the necessary action had to be taken in at least two steps, and the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) indicated this morning that there is a third stage yet to come. I repeat, there has been such a vast change in the technicalities of meeting our defence requirements that the necessary action cannot be taken in one bite. We are now only in the second phase.

I cannot allow the honorable senator's implied criticism of the Government's action lo pass without commenting on it. We have passed from a period of what might be described as political immaturity - at the time of the first settlement of Australia - through the period of growing and establishing our nation under the wing of the more powerful force from which our nation is derived - Great Britain - to a situation where, from 1942 onwards, we have been able to survive because the most dominant force in the Pacific basin has been the United States of America. We have now reached full acceptance of the responsibilities of nationhood which, in the terms of the privileges involved, we were' all too willing to assume, and we must pay the penalties involved in attaining the stature of nationhood, ft is this which caused this able senator, the Minister for Defence, to bring into full perspective the whole problem of the responsibilities of nationhood as related to defence. That is what these two Bills are for.

It is all very well for my friend, Senator Kennelly, to ask, " What is meant by an emergency?" Earlier in my remarks I said that the problem of what is an emergency is a matter of judgment and not of fact. A declaration of war is a matter of fact. If the Chinese People's Republic declared war on Australia, that would be a matter of fact. But under the modern concept which has been educed and enunciated by the Communists of the world and, as Senator Mattner reminds me, not only in terms of theory but also in terms of practice, we have a situation of high danger which the Government, in its legislation, expresses as a matter of emergency. This is not so much a problem of fact as a matter of judgment and the judgment, under our social system, must rely on the executive government of the country, composed of men drawn from the Parliament. We must therefore not deprive this or any other Government of the Crown the right to decide, on the best information available, what is a period of emergency. So we are faced with the problem, brought willy-nilly into our lives, of meeting a situation precedent to the declaration of war - a situation of high danger, which is an emergency. I go further and ask: " When is the actual period of emergency reached?" I think we must at this stage admit that we cannot state when the real emergency arises. But at least the defences of New Zealand, the United States of America and Australia must be so postured that their armed forces are so disposed that we are not taken unaware in the event of a sudden flaring up of the emergency. The problem of South Vietnam has been bandied around the Senate and undoubtedly will be bandied about in another place. I suggest South Vietnam is a textbook case because of the lack of morality with which we are involved.

At what stage are we to decide that the situation in South Vietnam has become one of emergency? It is not impossible to foresee that the beginning of an emergency could relate to the irrational behaviour of our neighbours to the north, in Indonesia. We can follow this line of argument a great deal further and see that the emergency period short of war can create a third situation in which we must dispose of our defence forces so that we will not be taken completely unaware by aggression.

The second part of Senator Kennelly's argument during this debate, foreshadowed, ] suggest, by the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) yesterday in regard to this legislation, related to our ability to reinforce our defence services. As honorable senators will recall, Senator McKenna pictured a situation in which, being involved in war, you gradually take in more and more men until you have no manpower left to reinforce your Army, Navy or Air Force or the logistic elements of your defence.

We are not involved here in the problem of war, which is a problem of proclamation. Nor are we involved in the problem of the emergency situation, but we are involved in a moral and a physical responsibility in the long term or the short term defence of Australia for which we must set up a defence posture which is able to produce a defensive effort even in the event of an emergency situation. The Bills now before us sets out to develop the Australian defence posture and, of course, the defence posture of any nation is based on manpower.

Senator Kennellysaid that involved in the Bill we are discussing is the man who has been called up for national selective military service, who has undergone his training, who is then put into the Regular Army or the Regular Army Reserve and who, at a subsequent stage when we are involved in an actual collision, is returned to civil life because he has served bis two years and because the implied contract was that he had to serve only two years. This leads, of course, to that portion of the Minister's second reading speech to which Senator Kennelly referred. It states -

It could lead to unacceptable administrative difficulty in a time of defence emergency if a member has to be discharged from the Regular Army Supplement and must then be served with call-up papers for full time duty as a member of the Regular Army Reserve.

This creates an intolerable administrative problem because, when a situation of high danger which may be defined as an emergency period arises, or when there is a proclamation of war, or when there is a situation antecedent to war which, based on the judgment of the Government of the day - it does not matter whether it is a government of which Senator Kennelly is a distinguished Minister or whether it is the present Government of which its leader in the Senate is also a distinguished Minister and one charged with the responsibility of defence - is likely to result in the clash of war, whatever form it takes, you cannot have a statutory limit. Perhaps there would be a battalion or half a dozen air crews in a squadron or a percentage of the seamen in our warships who would have to be discharged. This is an intolerable administrative difficulty which no government, whatever its nature and its views, can resolve.

The government of the day, therefore, whether it is a government based on the existing opposition or a government based on present Government supporters in this chamber and in the other place, must be given the option of deferring the necessity to withdraw our troops, our sailors and our airmen. The country must not suffer defeat because, by statute, its government is required to release certain personnel from the Services. There must be a latitude to enable the Government to discharge its fundamental responsibility to the Australian people, charged as it is with. the defence of this country and its people.

Now I turn to the other misconception which seems to exist constantly in the minds of honorable senators, particularly opposite but probably on this side of the chamber as well, that a navy, an army or an air force is a static concept. I want to put a point of view to honorable senators to let them see how this problem exists. The defence effort required of this nation is in the form of a pyramid. At the very top of the pyramid is the fighting man. I am giving my illustration in the context of the Army. Immediately beneath the fighting man in his unit is what is known as the " left out of battle " group - the reserves. It is fundamental in war that as fast as you create righting men you must create reserves. So in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force you have what is known in the Army as the " left out of battle " group. Beneath this group which is in actual contact with the enemy you have in the pyramid the reinforcement depots with fully trained men. Beneath the reinforcement depots you have the training formations where men are being trained. Then below the training formations and the depots you have, in the Navy and the Air Force as well as in the Army, your draft intakes from compulsory selective national service or from the voluntary trainees because ours is a dual system. Finally, at the bottom of the pyramid, is the machinery of the draft which is imbedded in the Department of Labour and National Service. So there is the pyramid with the fighting man, whether he be a naval seaman, an infantry man or a member of an air crew, sitting at the apex and beneath him, as I have demonstrated, is this great system. But the government of the day must have the power to put the foundation beneath this great pyramid. This is what the National Service Bill seeks to do.

Let me return to this final problem of the intolerable administrative difficulty which the Minister mentioned. Such has been the immaturity of our approach to the problem of defence that I think every man and woman in this Senate and in another place who, as a result of the compulsions of the days in which they lived, has had to serve in the defence forces of this country, has seen these fantastic administrative difficulties which have arisen because people have had to be withdrawn from the armed forces in the actual battle situation or in the collision course. Certainly, in the latter stages of the last war this situation arose because servicemen may have done a tour of duty extending to 12 or 15 months and it had been decided administratively that after having served for 15 months a serviceman had certain entitlements. This is an intolerable situation unless you are the victor. But who can assume the victory? Victory is not won until the war is over. if I have talked too vehemently about this 1 apologise. I suggest that I have not introduced a partisan note into this debate. All I am begging honorable senators to do. and, through honorable senators, the people who elect them, is to acknowledge the fact that we have reached a situation of national maturity, nationhood and adulthood and that the full responsibilities which derive from this must be accepted and sustained by the Australian people. These Bills are the means by which this can be assumed and the obligation carried through.







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