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Notes for speech by Senator the Hon. V. C. Gair (Leader, D.L.P.) fifth triennial conference, Queensland branch, D.L.P., Rockhampton

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Senator The Hon. V. C. GAIR

Leader Democratic Labor Party Phones: Canberra. 705 Ext. 523 Brisbane, 310101 Ext. 436

Ermbargo: Not for release

before 10.30 a.m., Saturday, 26th July, 1969.



As far as the D.L.P. is concerned defence and foreign

affairs continue to be of supreme importance. This has been our

attitude since the formation of the party and will continue to be

so while there remains a threat to the security of the region

in which we live.

Te make no excuse for giving first priority to foreign

affairs and defence before domestic political questions, because

domestic policies are not worth the paper on which they are written

unless this country is adequately defended.

The D.L.P. is therefore concerned at any stands

adopted by the Federal Government on key foreign policy issues.

The problem is that one can never be sure of what is

the Government's official attitude on important current events.

Of late, the Prime Minister has adopted the tactic

of arranging for his Senior Ministers to fire the first salvo

and then sitting back to gauge the reaction.


Thus, we have the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall)

recently discovering the growing influence of Soviet power in

the Indian Ocean, but his analysis was unaccompanied by any

reasoned form of strategic response.

Then, more recently, there was the statement by the

Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) in which he

expressed doubts on the Nuclear Non—Proliferation Treaty. I

would have thought that such a statement should have more properly

been made by the Prime Minister or the Minister for External

Affairs (Mr. Freeth).

I, myself, have grave doubts about the worthwhileness

of Australia signing the Nuclear Non—Proliferation Treaty and

so does the D.L.P.

The D.L.P. has consistently argued that Australia

should work towards the development of its own nuclear deterrent.

Australia's signature on the Treaty would prevent this. After

all, we cannot count on automatic protection by existing nuclear

powers and we are situated in an area which Communist China hopes

to=bring under its sphere of influence. Communist China has

already announced its intention of not signing the Treaty.

Therefore, we must look at the question in terms of our own

security, and in my book, that means in terms of our own survival.

The growing influence of the Soviet Union in the

Indian Ocean area should also be of concern to Australia.

Distinguished foreign affairs commentator Mr. Denis

Warner sees this Soviet Union action as "the most dramatic move

by .a single power since the end of World War II, to extend its

influence into regions hitherto beyond its sphere".


Russia is extending her influence in the area through increased trade and economic assistance.

At a time when we should be seeking friends in Asia,

the Australian Government appears to be going out of its way to

confuse and ignore our potential friends — witness the way in

which the recent Five Power Conference was allowed to wither

and how Mr. Gorton made enemies of the Malaysians.

Australia's foreign policy in the Asian area must

have as its objective the development of greater co—operation

amongst the non—Communist countries with strong Australian

representation in any formal regional arrangements.

At the same time we must develop our defence capacity

to show Russia, Communist China and the outside world that we

are prepared to defend ourselves should the occasion ever

demand it.

While aiming for the objective of self- reliance in

defence, Australia's defence and strategic program should be

developed under these four basic guidelines :-* Retention and possible expansion of National Service Training so that our Army matches our requirements;

Development of an adequate Naval power;

Encouragement of domestic manufacture of aircraft so that we are not dependent on overseas supplies of parts and components;

* Development of an Australian Nuclear capacity so that we can produce our own nuclear deterrent should future events demand it.


I said earlier that while AMr. Fairhall's analysis

of the growth of Russian influence in the Indian Ocean area

was valuable, it was not accompanied by any reasoned form of

strategic response.

The Government cannot continue to drift along in

this disorganised manner. 1That should be presented to the

people without any further delay is an overall assessment of

what the Government plans in the defence field. Such an

assessment is long overdue.

Mr. Gorton is due to make two major speeches in

Brisbane next week. He could take the opportunity presented

by these occasions of announcing what the Government intends

to do about Indian Ocean defence, especially since this is

an issue of growing and urgent concern to a large number of



Senator, The Honourable

Simultaneous release Rockhampton and Crnberra,

26th July, 1969 .