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Notes for speech by Senator V. C. Gair (Leader, D.L.P), South Australian Conference, D.L.P., Adelaide

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Senator The Hon. V. C. GAR

Leader Democratic Labor Party Phones: Canberra, 705 Ext. 523 Brisbane, 310101 Ext. 438

Notes f or Speec h y Senator V.C. Gair

(Leader, D.L..P), South Australian

Conference, D.L.P. Adelaide Fr iday ,

29th August, 1969 .


Not for release before 8 p.m. Friday ,

29th August, 1969 .

The Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Gordon Freeth

rocked the nation last month with , his speech in the Parliament (August 14) in which he virtually welcomed the Russians into the Indian Ocean and spoke encouragingly a bout the Russian proposal for a collective security arrangement in Asia.

Coming only a few days before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, with hundreds of thousands of Czechs protesting the brutal Russian occupation of their country, most Australians were shocked at this new turn by the Gorton Government.

After all, Czechoslovakia was a member of a Russian "collective security . arrangement", and indeed this had been invoked by the Russians in justification of their intervention.

Additionally, Australians are very mindful of the fact that the Vietnam war, in which our young men are fi$bting and dying, is sustained only by massive Russian support of arms and equipment and technical advice,

In the beginning of that war China was the main supplier of armaments and war , material but as the war escalated in intensity and consumed weapons of greater sophistication, and as the Chinese got , themselves embroiled in the choas called "Cultural evolution", the' Russians took over. Today they supply the vast majority of war materials to the North , Vietnamese and Vi6t Cong.

It is these materials which kill Australian and. allied soldiers and allow the Vietnamese communists to maintain their . war of. aggression against South Vietnam and Laos.

it was opposition to tills aggression wnicn got _the Holt Government elected in 19^ 66

Worried by the strongreaction to his August 14 speech, Mr...Freeth has turned on critics, accusing them of misrepresent-ation but, significantly,he does not say how his critics have got him wrong.. _

Indeed, he says explicitly that he 'stands by his statement in the House,

In his statement . of August 14 Mr. Freeth noted the Russian proposal for collective security. In his next sentence, he reported diplomatic contacts between Russian and Australian representatives, and quoted a statement by the Russian Foreign • Minister to the effect that the basis had been laid for improved

relations with Australia ° We should "be watchful but need not panic whenever a Russian appears" and we should "avoid both facile gullibility and automatic reject of opportunities for co-operation", he said. ,,,.



The Australian Government, according to Mr. Freeth, "at all times welcomes the opportunity of practical and constructive dealings with the Soviet Union", Then in the next sentence followed the statement: "In principle, it is natural that a world power such as the Soviet Union should seek to promote a presence and a national influence in important regions of the world such as the Indian Ocean area". And he then spoke of the "limited degree of naval penetration" •to date.

Reason for concern would only arise when the scale or methods of objectives of the Russians changed to jeopardize our direct national interests or endanger the security of the region, according to Mr. Freeth.

Mr. Freeth then mentioned Czechoslovakia, expressing the hope that the Russians would take into account the reper-cussions in deciding future actions. The Minister then noted that the Brezhnev collective security proposals had not been put in any detail and that the Soviet Union was "exploring the reactions of other countries before trying to convert the idea into any firm or detailed proposal".

Apparently giving the Russians a reaction he said that Australia had been working for the security and economic advance of the region. "If the Russian proposals prove to be in line with these general objectives, and would assist to facilitate their achievement we would naturally consider them with close

interest" .

He then mentioned the need to contain China and the possibility of a substantial. American withdrawal from south east Asia allowing China to move in.

Mr. Freeth's statement can be seen to be full of ambiguities and allusions . Ideas f ollow one another without • any explicit connect ion. It is one of those deviously drafted _speeches which is full of implications w hich the audience can

accept if that is desi red or which can be disowned if necessary ,

But despite all the possible areas for interpretation, certain facts stand out in the Freeth doctrine on Russia.

First, th at Russia i s a likely force for peac p e a c e and stability in south east Asia, This is implied in the August 14 speech but admitted explicitly in an important interview with Peter Samuel in "The Bulletin", of August 29.

Second,that an Americanwithdrawal from south east Asi a is likely and a Russian_ p resence is needed as a counter to the expansionism of Chin a. •

Third, that'Australia can do nothing_about the Russi an presence anyway and had better "accomodate 1° with the Russians.




Everyone of these propositions is challengable, and it is indeed astonishing that the Minister for External Affairs has the audacity to expound such notions without an exhaustive analysis.

Such a radical switch in the assumptions underlying any country's foreign policy deserve something more than a few badly strung together sentences in a hurriedly prepared Ministerial statement.

The suspicion must be that the Minister and his Depart-ment simply cannot justify themselves, and this is the reason they resort to abusive attacks on their critics.

Russia as- a force f-or stability?

The idea. that Russia is now a force for stability is basic to the Freeth doctrine z _ but' it 'is' a most unreliable

foundation for a foreign policy . One of Russia's motives in moving into south east Asia may be to .counter the Chinese, as Mr. Freeth suggests, but that is hardly likely to be the be-all and-end-all of Russi an policy . 'The^Soviet Union remains deeply

committed to an ideology which defines it as the centre of world revolutionary forces with historical trends working for it.

The Russians have always specialized in combining orthodox diplomacy with organized . subversion by trying to sustain normal state relations at the diplomatic level while at the same time undermining that state by a covert means.

They have contempt for the notions of international law.-They will say anything or sign any treaty if it suits. them, and then act in direct contravention of their word.

The Russians are moving into south east Asia because they see--i-n extending their power the possibilit y of advancing their national and i deological interest's .'

The speech of Mrs Brezhnev from which Mr. Freeth quoted approvingly the single sentence on collective security in south east Asia, was mainly devoted to a reaffirmation of the supremac y of Leninism as the guiding force in Soviet

li foreign po cy , -^

Its theme was that "Imperialism" (that includes

_ Australia) is the chief adversary of all communists and that they must unite to overthrow it. .

There was an explicit statement of the need for deviousness in foreign_ policy: "To apply a consistent class line, firmly adhere to principles, be flexible in tactics, consider the concrete conditions from every angle, to employ bold and at the same time well-conceived actions, to be able to utilize all the diverse means of fighting imperialism this is what Lenin taught us and what we learn from Lenin". /4.


Mr. F:reeth°s suggestion in his "Bulletin" interview that there is a Russian "desire to prevent south east Asia going communist" is dangerous wishful thinking The Russians certainly are trying to improve state relations in south east Asia and elsewhere for that matter, but this is not stopping

them from continuing a .p.arallel. policy of subversion and encouragement of revolution against south east Asian states.

As recently as April 5, Moscow Radio was saying that "the reactionary and terroristic regime in Indonesia can be overthrown only by armed struggle". This incitement to rebellion against the Suharto Government was not just a straw

in the wind,

The theoretical. journal , "Kommunist" last November said that "the task has been set of providing practical training for armed struggle" against the Government, A Government - it should be noted - that the Russians are at the same time cultivating by trade, diplomacy and aid.

In Thailand and Malaysia at least the local communist movements are at the moment completely under Peking control and so for now the Russians give them little encouragement. But the opportunity for Russian influence might develop in which

case the Russians could be expected to port a communist takeover.

Mr. Freeth is altogether too naive in his thinking, Perhaps there are certain communist parties in south east Asia the Russians would not like to see taken over now? but there are others where it must hope to wield more influence than the Chinese ..

With its greatly superior economic and military strength Russia must hope . to be able to turn the tables on the Chinese on occasions and "buy" its influence.

In any case, what on earth can •the Russians do to prevent communist takeovers in south east Asia, even if as Mr. Freeth thinks, that is their desire?

Does Mr. Freeth expect the Russians to land tens of thousands of Russian soldiers in Thailand or Malaysia to support the local governments in a long-drawn out anti.-guerrilla war?

The whole suggestion is ridiculous and only goes to show how far from reality Australian foreign policy has fallen since Mr. Gorton took over,

_Freeth's second proDosition0 namely that a Russian resence in south east Asia might be the best counter to Chinese nism is thoroughly misguided . The best counter is an alliance of those countries in the region, including Japan as well as Australia if possible, and with whatever material backing that can be squeezed out of the Americans, The Russians are

about the worst sort of people to deal with. ./50


The third proposition that -Australia can do nothing about Russian efforts to establish itself in the region is misguided and unnecessarily defeatist There is no need to welcome the Russians and put the best possible gloss on their motives in moving in, as Mr. Freeth has done.

They can be discouraged diplomatically, and neighbouring countries influenced against giving them bases in the region. Australian hostility to Russian bases in the region would", for instance, have considerable influence on the Malaysian, Singap-orean and In4onesian Governments in deciding how to react to Russian requests for bases.

Australia should make prudent, carefully considered moves to cope with the changing military situation. We should expand out western defences, particularly the navy, to provide protection for West Australia, and in particular for the vast mineral sites in the north west and their shipping lanes to Japan.

Unless the Russians are in fact considering moving against Australia in some way they will not react to an Australian naval buildup.

And if they are considering moves against our interests then we need every ship we can build.

The Freeth response is wrong for many reasons.

It is a naive , acceptance of Soviet language. When we speak of collective security we surely mean something very different from the Russians, whose model must be their only existing such treaty, the Warsaw Pact. This is used to keep. Eastern Europe in a state of Russian subjugation.

It is wrong for Australia to welcome the Soviet move because the countries of south east Asia have, without exception, expressed either scepticism or hostility to the Brezhnev proposal. Flirting with the Russians will onl y reinforce Australia's image

in Asia as ` feckless and rudderless . It will make us look like servile colonials always looking for a great and powerful mother county. Finally, it will make us look like racialists-, looking for another white supporter when the British and the Americans are running out.

It is sure to weaken what diplomatic strength we have after Mr." Gorton's sabotage of Australia s relations with Singapore and Malaysia.

Finally it is important to remember what the Russians have been doing for peace and stability in the region. They have been sustaining the North Vietnamese war effort in South Vietnam and Laos with vast amounts of equipment. It was the Russians also who made President Sukarno such a threat in the

early 60s. Without Russian military hardware and advisers he could never have started "Confrontation" or. been a threat to Australia. /60


The Soviets are just not the sort of people Australia

refreshing and flexible, as if foreign policy is just a public relations exercise 9 and instead it will think a little and per-haps do something by way of increasing our strength.