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Thursday, 14 March 1968


Dr EVERINGHAM (Capricornia) - Mr Deputy Speaker, a few months ago this House lost a prospective Minister for Defence, my friend, the late George Gray. He preceded me as the honourable member for Capricornia. I believe he died because he did not spare himself. During a visit to India, he and a colleague contracted an infection. Mr Gray, in his forthright fashion, chose to ignore that infection. He stayed on his feet but never fully regained his health. He cannot be adequately replaced. He would not wish me to let go unchallenged the issues of defence on which he would have given expert opinion. That is one reason why I will devote some time to war and defence this afternoon. He would expect me to question the franchise of the South Vietnamese Government which was taken for granted in the Governor-General's Speech as if it were a masterpiece of democracy under difficulties.

The man appointed by the White House to assess the will of the South Vietnamese to fight on each side of the civil war, Professor Galbraith of Harvard University - the President's top Asian diplomat - dismissed the election of that government as a fake - as window dressing. In his book How to Get Out of Vietnam', Professor Galbraith proposed what is virtually the policy of the Australian Labor Party: to hold the areas that are clearly under Saigon's control - mainly urban areas - where Catholics, landowners and other refugees live by choice, and to cede to the Vietcong the areas that are clearly theirs and which no amount of escalation will clear and hold for Saigon. Then negotiations should start along the lines of the Geneva settlement.

It is a standing disgrace to this country that never have the legalities of this war been presented, debated or investigated in a way that responsible electors have a right to expect in this House of decision, or indeed, in any parliament outside that of the United States of America. Most nations of the world do not recognise the Vietnam war as being a war between two sovereign nations. The Geneva Accords refer specifically to two zones which are not to be regarded in any sense as separate countries. This is a case in which two wrongs do not make a right. Australia should have United Nations sanction for breaking the Accords. We should abide by the version of the International Control Commission in Vietnam, not our own version of what, or how often, or in what order, or how seriously the Accords have been broken by each party concerned and what other breaches may be justified in retaliation.

When the South Vietnamese Government set up a committee to investigate alleged irregularities in the recent election in that country, the committee found irregularities so serious that it unanimously recommended a new election. With the leading civil candidate at the election in gaol and a state security chief in the gallery watching the parliamentary proceedings, the new parliament, by a narrow majority, rejected the committee's recommendation and decided to let its irregular election stand.

Legalities, of course, are not the main issue. Justice not only should be done but should also appear to be done. This fundamental legal principle applies especially where grave matters have to be judged and there is no graver issue before us than our going to war. I believe, with George Gray, that we are making more defence problems by killing Asians than we are solving by militarily cultivating the United States, and by joint adventures with that country on other continents than hers and ours. We antagonise Asians with our old, rigid immigration policy. Constructive help is the only way in which to reverse that hostility. The United States, as always in the past, will come to the help of anyone only if she feels that her vital interests are threatened and if she is not fighting on her own ground - and we cannot assume that this will happen in any future world war. The American nuclear umbrella turns out to be a nuclear boomerang and such weapons are not selfdefensive - they are self-destructive.

The late George Gray visited most of the Asian countries over a period of some quarter of a century. He spoke Chinese fluently and, like his son, he served as a full-time soldier. He was not unfamiliar with Asian ideas of democracy. He told me that there was only one parliamentary democracy in South East Asia and that was Malaysia. But not long afterwards I read of the imprisonment in Malaysia of the Malaysian opposition leader who was, I believe, a democratic socialist as we are on this side of the House. I believe that this is the fate of laissez faire democracy in most underdeveloped countries and I believe that that is one reason why Communism often has more attraction for underdeveloped countries. Unfortunately, our great wartime ally against Nazism, Fascism and Japanese ambitions, the United States, now has only one official yardstick for democracy. If you hate Communism, which forbids freedom to foreign capital to enter, to buy cheaply and to make profits, then you are in the free world, whatever tyrannies you practice. If you embrace Communism, whether it be Titoism, Maoism, Castroism or any other variety, no matter how savage the dictatorship it replaces, you are an enemy of freedom. And if you stay neutral, then you are soft on Communism and are a fellow traveller, a security risk and a liability.

It is said that even the devil may quote scripture, and the war hawks do this. They say, referring out of context to military actions, 'He who is not for me is against me'. This is neither Australian fair play nor British justice. It is not sane diplomacy, nor is it warfare within the provisions of the Geneva conventions. It is a mental disorder known as paranonia which affects persons, groups, towns, districts, states and nations. It is kept under control in individuals by family tolerance or force, by chemical or psychological treatment, or by basic retraining related to certain brainwashing procedures. It is kept under control among groups, towns, districts and the states of a federation by the rule of law. It is not controlled among the nations, and this is the essence of international disorder, as compared with national, state or civic order.

The solution lies in developing among nations and among citizens of different nations the ingredients of sanity and the rule of law to keep the peace. These ingredients include, first, a growing sense of communal interest between those who now see themselves as living in opposing camps. This wider world loyalty, which can only enhance national loyalty, could now be fostered by moves to exchange with other countries newspaper space, radio and television time, cultural and educational scholarships, teachers and so on. A daily worldwide selection of television and radio programmes and, indeed, of newspapers printed by radio in each home is within the reach of modern satellite technicians. Let us use these new media, not to destroy, but to unite this planet.

A second essential ingredient for a world without war is the admission of error in high places and the submission of grave issues to commonly respected independent arbitrators. How often do the great powers, or their client nations, take their disputes to the International Court of Justice? Every time we send a military force overseas in anger without doing this, in effect we do, on the international scale, what pirates, bandits and gangsters do on a national scale. We show contempt for the chief organ of the very laws that we are claiming to uphold by our so-called police actions. The police who so acted within any country would be sacked, tried and sentenced. So must international adventurers be arrested and tried under a strengthening world parliament which we see in embryo in the United Nations.

We should restrict our foreign intervention to civil aid and vigorous mediation, as Sweden and Switzerland do, and, like Britain, we should post up prominently the sign 'Trespassers Evicted, by our own hands if necessary'. George Gray believed this, as I do.

Britain was invaded across 22 miles of channel many times. The invaders never succeeded, except in 1066 when no one saw them coming. Hitler's Europe, on its knees after taking on Russia, with its air force in shreds and a well organised resistance movement to contend with, still required the patiently massed and marshalled might of the two greatest powers on earth to invade it from that gallant island across the same 22 miles of salt water. Yet here we are with a continent several days sail from any invader. We have the know-how to build up an unbeatable guerilla defence; we have defensive missile know-how leading the world, and we have the experience, facilities and raw materials to construct our own ships, planes and tanks. And what do we do? We spend four times as much as we need spend to pay other people to build missile-armed destroyers, in particular. We have the know-how and the resources but that is all that we do.

The only major armament item mentioned in the Governor-General's Speech as being made in Australia was the item of 75 Macchi jet trainers. We are being forced to depend on foreign suppliers of spare parts, which in a crisis might not reach us. We can make arms as well as Sweden can, and for a lot less money. The purpose of all this spending is stated to be to make significant contribution to collective defence or to bear the first shock of any attack on ourselves'. This appears in the Governor-General's Speech. This is the sole and complete purpose - to contribute to collective defence or to bear the first shock of any attack on ourselves. How the Swiss and the Israelis must laugh at our defence attitude. The mountain, being in labour, bringeth forth a mouse. If America is hard pressed on her mainland in any future war, no doubt we will send men to her if we are not equally hard pressed here. But if we are under pressure here we will not do so and, what is more, the United States will not send men to help us while she is hard pressed. This is the risk that we ought to be equal to in a world war.

Do we say to ourselves: 'We never deserved this country anyhow. Come in, all you who are driven by despair and by dictators, and dictate to us'? This is the logical consequence of our long tradition of clinging to John Bull's coat-tails which are now being snipped off, or to Uncle Sam's coattails, which are getting badly singed in his Asian, Middle East and Latin American adventures. What would have happened to Lionel Rose if he had clung to the dressing gowns of the heavyweights Joe Louis, Sugar' Ray or Cassius Clay, instead of going in and boxing on for himself? He would never have earned the respect of the world for Australia. We could have such respect for our defence, along with Sweden and Switzerland, both nations having none of our range of resources and natural defences and no prouder record than ours of physical courage in war, sport or any other fields of endeavour.

It is not only in world affairs, however, that governments are mentally ill. They are afflicted by a cold war approach to class differences within national borders. On the one hand, some of the more belligerent communists and some of the more militant unionists are telling us that force, defiance and direct action constitute the only language that the bosses understand. On the other hand, there are self-styled Liberals assuming that hereditary privilege is theirs by divine right, to be defended against those born to humbler stations, if necessary by all the force that money can buy, whether legalised with the aid of Press campaigns and distortion of the news that they distribute, or simply justified as the only language that those 'clods' can understand. This sort of right and left wing extremism, denying that words can replace wars, would be laughable if it were not so widely believed and acted on as gospel truth, even among the upper echelons of our Government. It is because I believe that this insanity is being overcome best in the party to which I belong that as a university student I changed my voting from the Liberal Party to the Labor Party. I commend such a change of opinion to honourable members opposite. They have an excellent precedent in the late Senator Hannaford.

Another field in which class warfare is rife concerns social services. The Government professes sympathy with the plight of the poor while spending lavishly in less urgent directions. The Government even raised pensions for former members of this House in a year when breadline pensioners were given nothing extra. I am pleased to see that the Government now agrees with me that those least able to pay for illness under our health insurance scheme are those suffering long illnesses. I trust that the resulting review of the National Health Act, which has been virtually forced on the Government by the Senate, will go some way towards implementing our policy of complete health insurance, leaving private health care available to those who want it. I am pleased, also, that the Government contemplates correcting some other anomalies: Vietnam veterans, among others, after a year's service will receive some pension benefits and the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Scheme will be liberalised along the lines of repatriation benefits.

The development of northern and sparsely settled areas suffers because there are more voters elsewhere. Fortunately this neglect is noted by the electors. In the Dawson and Capricornia by-elections the democratic process supplied the remedy. It is good to see that as our party predicted, and as the Government denied during these by-elections, the solid vote against the Government was followed by action: On the eve of the recent Senate elections big northern development grants were announced. The Governor-General's Speech shows that, as usual in such cases, the Government has adopted some of our policy. It will survey and set up joint Commonwealth and State projects in coordination with private projects. This is still, of course, a piecemeal policy. It still leaves the great concept of the Snowy scheme to wither away. But it is a start at slowing the decay. We trust that the Snowy concept will not be past resuscitation when the Government is changed next year. Meanwhile we will, I suppose, still traipse along in the wake of private enterprise instead of taking the initiative in planning. The Government would rather give foreigners freight and taxation concessions than put in our own nation's ill-used capital resources to stimulate new industries. Even then it fails to help State and local governments to provide housing, sewerage and other facilities for the work force which follows these new industries, as in Gladstone, Moura, Biloela, Emerald and other central Queensland towns.

The Government has adopted something else that I have publicly advocated: A plan to develop forestry as an alternative industry for struggling dairymen. I was glad to hear an honourable member opposite say that we need much more softwood to be produced in this country. I am glad also to be able to say that the Government has agreed to extend similar aid to marginal fruit growers. I can only deplore that it does not prevent bankruptcy among primary producers by advance planning, advance rationalisation and cheap loan money for resettlement, instead of waiting for them to become bankrupt. We can accelerate such breakthroughs of commonsense by setting up an Australian Press commission te discourage the slanted reporting which is so widespread at present in our Press. We should not be restricting ourselves to doing what pressure groups tell us to do, what foreigners want and what party hacks ask for. We should be looking at the problems of State and local governments and considering how best and most efficiently this country can be governed. We should not be restricting ourselves and washing our hands of things that we say are State and local government matters. We should be safeguarding and extending civil rights, such as the right of electors by petition to demand a referendum or the recall of an elected representative, as in Switzerland.

We should look far ahead, not only to our own needs but also to the needs of other countries. I have not time to enlarge on the more well known economic and educational needs of other countries. They are known to all honourable members. But one problem which is already acute in some countries is over-population. Although it has not hit us here, we should be thinking about it. The ethical problem of keeping alive one man by cutting the live heart or kidney from another who has been declared dead is a temporary and trifling problem compared with the one which will soon replace it - the problem of keeping alive millions by the aid of plastic hearts and kidneys. This problem will come in our lifetime. Most family doctors in Australia have probably attended at least one person who has been restored from invalidity to active life by the removal of a heart valve and its replacement with a plastic ball valve. Where do we stop the one-track mind of the medical profession which aims to keep as much as possible on the earth's crust from turning into anything less than human beings? Do we wait until there is no standing room in the solar system or do we start to face now the fact that we are fast running out of fresh air, fresh water, parkland, forest and ocean?

I return to the national health service, which has been strongly criticised by honourable members opposite during this debate. One of them recommended that everyone of pensionable age be allowed the fringe benefits available to pensioners, including free medical care. He is likely to provoke a strike among members of the Australian Medical Association who have believed that only Socialists think that way. What I cannot understand is why it should concern this Government or the medical profession whether the governments of Queensland charge for public bed accommodation or not. For many years Queensland governments, Labor and non-Labor, have clung to free hospitalisation. There is a case to foe made out for charging anybody who takes- himself unbidden to a doctor, but if that doctor, on his own initiative, refers the patient to a specialist, a hospital, a chemist or a physio.terapist, no sort of argument can be put up to justify a charge for this. The patient did not request it. He cannot be accused of over-use of these services, because only a doctor can order their use. Only a doctor can be responsible for over-use of these facilities. There can be no legitimate government or AMA objection to a free service for those items which a qualified doctor orders.

Education is another Cinderella department, because the Government refuses to look or plan ahead and is insensitive to those who have no vote - in this case, school children. All honourable members have heard that we are lagging behind other countries. Instead of spending, as we do now, half as much per student as Israel or Finland does, we ought to be almost doubling their expenditure per student. In this most valuable of all capital investments, the investment in human capacity, the Government has no imagination. I hope that it can be shamed into accepting, to some extent, our policy for a sweeping survey of education. In conclusion, and in short, the Government must stop merely dodging difficulties and start to stimulate statesmanship.







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