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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - It is interesting to see how consistently honorable gentlemen opposite attempt to denigrate the Government of South Vietnam despite the most valiant endeavours that it is making to resist the pressures of Communism in South Vietnam. We all know that there does not exist in South Vietnam the kind of national entity or unity that we enjoy in this country and that the communities are responsive to group loyalties rather than to the sort of national loyalty that develops in a well ordered democratic country such as our own. There is no doubt that the present Government of South Vietnam has been compelled to adopt rigorous measures in order to maintain an effective control in a situation in which there are various groups or sects, each with its own special interests and each capable of directing criticisms against a government that does not always fall in line with its expressed wishes.

We can recognise these difficulties and we realise how much they complicate the task of maintaining a wartime administration and at the same time trying to conduct an efficient civil administration under these stresses. Far from being critical, I think the Australian Parliament should attempt to be well informed and sympathetically disposed to those who must contend with matters of this kind. The fact of the matter is that some hundreds of thousands of the citizens of South Vietnam, aided by more than 200,000 troops of the United States of America, are helping to resist Communist pressure In South Vietnam and in doing so are helping to preserve the security of Australia.

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