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Tuesday, 17 November 1964

Senator DRURY (South Australia) . - I rise to take part in this debate because the Government has criticised the Australian Labour Party for the amendment it has moved. The Government has continued to say that the Labour Party is opposed to all forms of national service training. If honorable senators opposite look at the amendment closely, they will see that the Labour Party does not oppose the introduction of national service training but that what it opposes is conscription for service overseas. We have not heard supporters of the Government make any statements to support their charge that we are opposed to national service training. Reference to the amendment will show that what I am saying is correct. The amendment reads -

That the following words be added to the motion - " and opposes the Government's proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas, regrets its failure to stimulate recruitment for the regular Army and condemns its delay in securing Naval and Air Forces to safeguard Australia and ils territories and communications ".

I cannot see any sinister move on the part of the Labour Party in moving the amendment. 1 believe that the people of Australia will support the Labour Party in its action. Despite what has been said by the Government, the people are not blind to the fact that what the Government proposes is conscription and that their sons will be sent overseas for service.

In reply to an interjection that was made by an Opposition senator, Senator Gorton said that he did not think any trouble would arise from mixing conscripts with regular Army men. During the Second World War when Australia was threatened with invasion by Japan and the Labour Government introduced conscription, ignominious descriptions such as " chocos " and " Curtin's tourists " were pinned to these men. Anybody who was in the Army at the time knows that there was strife between the chocos, as they were called, and the regular Army men.

Senator Mattner - They were not regular Army men.

Senator DRURY - They were members of the A.I.F. Although there was strife, I go so far as to say that when the pressure was on in New Guinea these Curtin's tourists and chocos fought side by side with members of the A.I.F. at Milne Bay and proved themselves to be excellent soldiers. As everybody knows, the battle at Milne Bay was one of the turning points of the war for Australia. But back at the bases in Australia there was continual conflict between the two elements of the Service. I believe that the same thing will happen if this system is reintroduced. Regardless of what the Government says, conscription for service overseas is not in the best interests of Australia.

Senator Hannansaid that in 1961 the Australian Labour Party had no policy for the defence of Australia, and he quoted ex- tracts from newspaper reports. Senator Willesee adequately replied to Senator Hannan when he pointed out that Senator Hannan had quoted only from newspaper reports and added that apparently it is quite in order for supporters of the Government to quote from newspaper reports but that when Opposition senators do so it is a different matter altogether. Senator Hannan said also that in 1942 the Australian Labour Party, which was then in office, did certain things which he thought were not in the best interests of Australia. Yet when the Curtin Government went to the people of Australia in 1943 and a mandate to continue the war effort it was returned with an overwhelming majority. I cannot see how Senator Hannan can reconcile that fact with his statement that the people of Australia were concerned about the way in which the Government of the day was fighting the war. The result of that election in 1943 showed that the Australian people looked to the Labour Government to get them out of the mess in which Australia had been placed as the result of the maladministration of the previous Government. The honorable senator, when speaking about the North West Cape station, said that the 36 delegates to the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party were to oppose the construction of that base. That is not true in any shape or form. The Labour Party selected delegates from the six States. At a monthly State Council meeting in South Australia, the six delegates to the Federal conference were instructed by the Council to support the proposal for the installation of the communication base at North West Cape. How can the honorable senator truthfully say that the 36 men were to oppose the installation of the base in Australia? We were never at any point of time opposed to the installation of the base, but were opposed to the lack of say that we had in its control. This has been emphasised in statements made since installation of the base has commenced.

I shall now deal with relations between Australia and Indonesia. The Government has known for a considerable time the strength of the Indonesian forces.. In 1963 the strength of the Indonesian Army was approximately 330,000 men; the Air Force contained 40,000 men and the Navy 40,000 men. Surely the Government was in possession of this information, because it was known to most members of the Senate that at that time the Indonesian Government was spending about 75 per cent, of its budget on defence. Yet last year Government supporters did not speak of calling up boys to be trained for the Regular Army. The Government has known for a long time that Indonesia cannot be trusted. From time to time the Indonesians have made statements about their intentions to establish friendly relations with other nations. Yet within a few weeks of the statements the Indonesians have done a somersault and reverted to their previous unfriendly attitude. I draw the attention of the Senate to an editorial which appeared in " Suluh Indonesia ", an Indonesian newspaper, at the time that a parliamentary delegation from Australia was visiting Indonesia. This editorial should have made the Government aware of Indonesia's attitude to Australia. The editorial was published on 6th July 1963 and is headed "Between Indonesia and Australia". It states -

We consider it most important to give the widest opportunities to these representatives -

That is a reference to the parliamentary delegation - of the Australian people in their efforts to deepen their vision and knowledge of Indonesia, because for a long time the Australian Government and people have regarded Indonesia with doubt and suspicion. Furthermore, the people and Government of Australia have neglected the vast country which lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans and between Asia and Australia. They have thought as if there were a vacuum between Darwin and London, imagining there was nothing in between or overlooking the existence of Indonesia. With Indonesia awakening from its sleep and standing firmly on its own feet, they have regarded it with suspicion and doubt. Moreover, they have not infrequently taken up attitudes which were somewhat unfriendly.

I shall come now to the point I wish to make, the. point which should particularly have been noted by the Government. The editorial continues -

Such a situation will not apparently be advantageous. For God has willed that Australia and Indonesia must have a common border, which now exists in New Guinea. It is therefore clear that a peaceful atmosphere must be created between Indonesia and Australia - a peaceful atmosphere devoid of mutual suspicion. And what is more important to realise is that in the final instance, Australia will not be able to close its eyes to the fact of the emergence of the Asian people who are Australia's closest neighbours. If it does not realise this, it is likely that Australia will one day be put in a corner in a none too advantageous position.

Senator Henty - The expression "emergence of the Asian people " does not refer to Malaysia, I suppose?

Senator DRURY - 1 am only quoting from the editorial. The G'overnment should have taken note of it, because it was a clear indication to Australia that unless we behave in a suitable fashion certain things might happen to us.

Although the editorial was published over 12 months ago, no action was taken by the Government to build up the strength of our Army so that adequate defence of this country could be provided.

Senator Sandford - It is an election stunt.

Senator DRURY - As my colleague says, it is an election stunt. From time to time we have been led to believe that China was acting in a certain way. Until recently no mention was made of the possibility of Communist China exploding an atomic bomb. Evidently everybody else knew that Communist China was working towards this objective. President Johnson of the United States of America said in a statement that the United States had known for many years that the Chinese were developing an atomic bomb site in China. I shall quote from an official text issued by the United States Information Service. It is the text of a radio and television address by President Johnson on 18th October 1964. President Johnson said -

The same day the Chinese nuclear device was exploded at a test site near a lake called Lop Nor in the Takla Makan Desert of the remote central Asian province of Sinkiang. The building of this test site had been known to American intelligence for several years. In recent weeks the rapid pace of work there gave us a clear signal that the long and bitter efforts of this regime were leading at last to a nuclear test. At first, in the 1950's Russia helped the Chinese. This assistance in the spread of nuclear weapons may now be regarded with some dismay in Moscow.

Evidently the Americans were quite aware of the fact that the Chinese were building atomic weapons. The recent explosion of an atomic bomb by the Chinese has proved that they have achieved their objective.

I believe that the call up of our young men for national service training will not be in the best economic interests of Australia. As Senator Ridley said yesterday, the system of placing names in a barrel and drawing out the names of those who are to be called up might lead to the situation that at least .100 names are drawn out before one suitable trainee is chosen. This position arises because of the educational standards set down by the Army for applicants. If the Army had reduced its educational standards national service training would not have been necessary. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have emphasised this point.

In the call-ups in 1942, 1943 and 1944 educational standards were not taken into account. If men were physically fit they were placed into training. Eventually numbers of them volunteered for service in the Australian Imperial Forces and acquitted themselves well overseas and in Australia. I believe that the same system should apply today. If these people who were rejected from the Army because they failed to reach the necessary educational standard had been given an opportunity to train in the Army, and whilst doing their preliminary military training had been given some form of educational training, they would have become assets to this country. It would not then have been necessary to introduce legislation to call up men for military service. I believe that the Government would have been able to obtain the men on a voluntary basis, instead of having to bring in a bill to conscript them. I support the amendment that has been moved.

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