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Thursday, 31 March 1966


Mr HAWORTH - I can quite understand the action of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). His conscience is pricking him. He realises that he has been exposed as one of the members of the

Opposition who is totally opposed to the United States of America. He is very like some of the people in his electorate who are tied to the Communist policy. I can quite understand that in this House he feels his conscience pricking a little. Nevertheless he has to take it, and we on this side of the House are going to give it to him. We know that all Australians note at the present time with a good deal of pleasure the many attempts by the United States of America to reach a satisfactory and peaceful solution in South Vietnam. The Honolulu Declaration and the preceding talks were clear demonstrations of this. We know that the United States is in Vietnam for no other reason than to resist aggression. The United States has no selfish or private interest in this bitter war. Nor does Australia. It is fair to say that the United States has backed up its words of peace by a willingness to launch an extensive development programme in South Vietnam. We remember with interest the remarks made by President Johnson in his radio address from the Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore when he said that he would ask Congress to join in a $US1,000 million investment in South East Asia. He continued -

We want nothing for ourselves, only that the people of South Vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way.

If Hanoi spurns offers like this and if the Communists use the respite in the bombing of their territory - which they did recently over the New Year celebrations period - simply to increase their military strength, we can do nothing but deny them that strength where and when circumstances present themselves. If we have to continue fighting we shall fight. But at all times we should make it clear beyond doubt that we are prepared to take any reasonable steps to secure peace for South Vietnam at any time. This we have done. I believe that the reason why North Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh have rebuffed every approach to a peace settlement is because of their belief that they are winning the propaganda battle. I should remind the House that the war in South Vietnam is not a civil war that has been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. This is the type of propaganda that the Communists like. This is the kind of diversion that they wish to promulgate throughout the community. All I want to say about that particular type of propaganda is that it is not based on fact, because I have before me a copy of the special report to the co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference on Indo-China in 1962. In this report the Indian representative and the Canadian representative denied that this was a civil war and said that it was a war of aggression. As long as Ho Chi Minh and his Government of North Vietnam can find agencies and people who will peddle this type of mis-statement, people like the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who has been on his feet so many times tonight and is prepared to peddle the propaganda of the Communists that Ho Chi Minh would like him to spread, the war in Vietnam will be prolonged.

Somebody wrote an article recently on the stupidity of intelligence which he claimed was at the heart of the propaganda war. He said that Ho Chi Minh was resting heavily on this sort of stupidity to bring him success. The writer added -

Let us assume that all the demonstrators all over the world against war in Vietnam are everything they say they are - sincerely desirous for an honorable peace, troubled by the bombing of the civil population of North and South Vietnam, generally afraid that we may be trapped into a hopeless war with China and worried by the power of the United States. The trouble is that these people are inadvertently working against all things they want and are creating all things they fear most. They are not promoting peace but postponing it. They are not persuading the United States or their allies to end the war but deceiving Ho Chi Minh and General Giap into prolonging it.

This is the sort of thing that is going on at demonstrations and teach ins to try to create the impression in the community that those concerned are against the war in China. They are deceiving Ho Chi Minh into believing they have some force in the community when they have not. This Government does not believe, and I do not believe, that there are purely military solutions in Vietnam. It is an over-simplification to suggest that we do believe that. The United States and Australia and many other allied countries are already bending their best efforts in Vietnam towards a political and social solution of the many problems of that troubled country. The military role is not an end in itself but a means to an end - the end that peace and social justice may be brought to this rice bowl of Asia.

Debate (on motion by Mr. McIvor) adjourned.

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