Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 16 March 1977
Page: 279

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - When I came into the House after the suspension of the sitting I enjoyed some of the remarks made by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), a man for whom I have a certain respect as have many members on this side of the House, particularly when he expresses in sincere terms his personal concern for the suffering of the underprivileged people of the world. But then, when speaking about China, he went on to kill his good speech and his image by such references as 'the sham pantomime working relationship of the previous Government'. He went on to say, 'We are prepared to express disagreement with the United States alliance whenever it exists'. A change of wind in Liberal Party thinking has been blowing for some time, since not so many years ago the catchcries of his Party before he came into this House were 'All the way with LBJ' and 'We go a-waltzing Matilda with the President of the United States'. The path that was followed then by the Conservatives was none other than to tie Australia to the apron strings of the United States. The United States government and people began to gain more respect for Australia when the Whitlam Administration came to power and expressed a more independent line in foreign policy, particularly in respect of the Vietnam war. The respect of the American governments and the American people started to increase for the Australian nation and its people when the Government of the day said that we were not going to be puppets of the United States. By using phrases of the kind that I have just quoted the honourable member killed what I thought would have been a respectful, appreciated and well worded speech.

As I have said, the honourable member used the words 'sham pantomime' in respect of the Labor Party's policy on China. I do not know how a man of his intellectual talents and the respect in which he is generally held could sincerely say 'the sham pantomime working policies of the previous Government'. He knows too well, through his superior intellect and training, the benefits of great schooling and the position he holds as a barrister at law that for years it was Labor Party policy that the People's Republic of China should be admitted to the United Nations. He knew for years that if the Labor Party got into power it would immediately recognise the People 's Republic of China.

This is a strange debate in many respects, particularly when the truth comes out. I remember that after I came to this House in 1 960 abuse was levelled against the People's Republic of China by the Conservatives and the Tories of this country. My old friend the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), whom I respect in many ways and who has just come into this chamber, at one time suggested that Australia should use its influence to drop an atomic bomb on the People's Republic of China. That country for over 30 years fought against the tyranny and exploitation of foreign business and foreign imperialism. The average life expectancy under the old Kuomintang Government was 28 to 30 years. Children born in China had to be sold by the pound in the streets by their mothers. These children were loved by their mothers just as much as white mothers love their children but they had to be sold because their parents could not afford to rear them. They lost thousands of lives in fighting for a new social order, for which we should have applauded them from the day the members of the Mao Tse-tung Government became the people in charge of People's China. The Chinese have managed to dam the Yellow River, which for centuries under the old Kuomintang Government went into flood. They are able to feed their people better today than ever before. Whether it is communism or fascism that achieves these goals, I am prepared to applaud it. I am prepared to applaud governments, irrespective of the political flag they fly, if they can uplift the living standards of their people.

The honourable member for Kooyong, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), in his speech on foreign policy which we are now debating in this House, 1 1 times in 10 minutes very courteously used the expression 'China'. Only a few years ago the constant remarks were 'the Red barbarians', 'Communist China', 'the Reds of the North' and 'the atheists'. There was a change overnight after the Whitlam Government came into power and recognised People 's China. Dr Kissinger did not give the tories of this country prior notice that he was going to People's China to cement good relations and to get the recognition of his own Government of People's China. The Tories were not advised of that visit. Mr Whitlam went there and was accepted. He rebuilt the bridges in Asia and in People's China that had been torn down by the privileged and the tories in this country and wherever else they had influence. The Whitlam Administration gained respect throughout the world by rebuilding the bridges that had been torn down by the reactionaries and the tories of this country.

Jimmy Carter has blown a new breath of change across the world. The tories in this country for years waved a fluttering flag saying that the country was in jeopardy because of the Russian build-up in the Indian Ocean. It was a furphy from beginning to end. I have said that to public audiences that I have had the privilege of addressing and I said it forcefully and sincerely at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Mauritius last year, to the disappointment and hurt, unfortunately, of some of my conservative colleagues who were present at the Conference. I was backed competently and equally sincerely by my colleague, the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry). I am pleased to inform this House, if I have not informed it before, that the overwhelming opinion of the countries of the Commonwealth that were represented at the Conference in Mauritius last year was in accordance with the thinking of the

Whitlam Administration and the Australian Labor Party over many years, namely, that the Indian Ocean should be declared a zone of peace. Now we see the Carter Administration stating its position without previously advising the tories of this Government, pulling the carpet from underneath it, ripping the braces and the elastic from the trousers of the tories of this country and letting their low garments fall to a dangerous point- and we know what is likely to happen then. The tories of this country have had the carpet pulled from under them.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, with his dignityhe is a man whom I respect- comes up with the best reply he can produce, but it is the weakest reply. He says that in the Indian Ocean he still supports the build-up of Diego Garcia until the Russians abdicate their base at Berbera in Somalia. The Foreign Minister does not really tell the truth, although he knows it well, namely, that the base at Berbera in Somalia is nothing more than a servicing base.

Mr Sainsbury -Haw, haw!

Mr JAMES - Listen to the donkey over there yelling for hay. Berbera is a base over which the Russians have no long term lease. The Somali Government can terminate the Russians' presence at or use of the base at Berbera at a moment's notice. I have said in this Parliament that there was no justification for the Ford Administration spending millions and millions of United States taxpayers' dollars on the build-up of Diego Garcia. There is every hope that the Carter Administration will not go ahead with the plan. My conscience dictates that I remind the Australian people that it was the tory Government which was in power recently that earmarked $80m of Australian taxpayers' money to build the Cockburn Sound naval base. The honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr) always avoids reference to the expenditure on the Cockburn Sound naval base, intended to be built to service and repair American Polaris submarines.

Mr Martyr - It is not in my electorate.

Mr JAMES - I am not saying that it is in the honourable member's electorate. He is a Western Australian member and he should be conversant with the amount of public money that is being spent on the Cockburn Sound naval base in Western Australia.

Mr Martyr - I applaud it.

Mr JAMES -The honourable member applauds it. Of course he would. He was a war monger before he came into the Parliament and he will remain a war monger until he goes out, because he has to echo the principles and political philosophies of Lang Hancock, who spent a considerable amount of money in order to bring the honourable member into this Parliament. The Cockburn Sound naval base which is still in the process of construction is to have $80m spent on it. It was intended to bring our warships and submarines and American nuclear submarines in there for repair. I wonder what the Government thinks, now that Jimmy Carter has said- he did not say these words, but he echoed the meaning of them- that the Indian Ocean will become a zone of peace in accordance with the overwhelming wishes of the people of the world and particularly the people who live around the Indian Ocean- the people of Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ceylon and India, which are all countries that belong to the Commonwealth. They have been hoping that one day in the immediate future the Indian Ocean will become a zone of peace. The carpet has been pulled from under the tories by Jimmy Carter, and I hope that Jimmy Carter will continue to follow those principles. I hope that he will be spared for a long time, because it looks as though he is projecting throughout the world a voice which will be appreciated by the world 's people.

I do not think enough was said by the Foreign Minister in his speech on foreign affairs about the underprivileged and poverty stricken people of the world. The world is hungry for peace. It is more hungry today than it has ever been before, and it looks as though peace may break out. Unfortunately, I cannot see it breaking out when one-quarter of the world's people are going to bed at night hungry. In my view, peace cannot have a solid and lasting foundation if it is built in the circumstances of the great inequalities which exist in Latin America and on the African continent today. It cannot be built among inequalities and injustices in a world where transport, communications and technology bring mankind closer and closer together. Great differences in standards of living become intolerable. Peace is indivisible in the world, but so is prosperity. The General Assembly of the United Nations once more is seized of these problems, and we all hope that it will come forward with new solutions.

I hope that the Timorese or Fretilin will achieve independence for Timor in the immediate future. I pay great tribute to Jim Dunn, a public servant who has had enough courage to go to the United States and give evidence before an important committee. I also applaud the spirit of the honourable member for Fraser, who has fought unflinchingly and made known in the forums in which he has spoken in this country and outside the country the plight of the Timorese people. For centuries they were under neo-fascist Portugese rule and, when it looked as though they would gain independence for the first time in history, they were dominated by the military junta of Indonesia. If there is a semblance of decency in any member of Parliament in this House he should raise his voice and speak up against the butchering that is taking place in Timor at this time.

Suggest corrections