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Tuesday, 19 March 1968

Mr GRAHAM (North Sydney) - I have heard many interesting speeches from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). From all these speeches it becomes apparent that he must have a large number of electors who are vitally concerned with the Australian sugar industry. I cannot help feeling that the many important international issues which have found their way into the Speech given by His Excellency the Governor-General appear in the mind of the honourable member for Dawson to be very much in second place in the order of priorities.

I support the motion moved by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) and seconded by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). I would begin this speech by recording my own personal and humble tribute to the late Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honourable Harold Holt. His tolerance, humanity and devotion to duty when added to several decades of ministerial experience at home and overseas representing our country, produced a rare standard of statesmanship. When in the early days of 1966 he became Prime Minister he knew that the time was ripe for a new Australian Prime Minister to develop closer and stronger bonds with the countries of Asia. It is now recognised that his tour of Asian countries early in 1966 was a great success and his sagacity and compassion made friends for him which will be of tremendous importance for Australia in the next 20 years in political leadership. The tragic manner of his' death was a stunning blow and all Australians were profoundly touched and impressed by the warmth of the sympathy and expressions of distress that came to us from overseas. No Australian of the past has caused by his death such a gathering of world leaders in this country. Those of us who were privileged to be present at the very moving memorial service held in St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne will remember our privilege and honour for the rest of our lives. I trust that I do not presume if I pay tribute also to Mrs Zara Holt whose courage and morale in these terrible circumstances were a magnificent example to us all. This gallant lady, who accompanied the late Prime Minister on his tour of Asia in 1966, was also a worthy contributor to Australia's future in overseas relationships.

As time has moved on and our new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has now occupied his place in this House I feel that it is proper to say a word of welcome to him. The right honourable member for Higgins, the newest and at the same time the most senior on the floor of this House, has gained his very considerable parliamentary experience in another place. T feel sure that the dignity and the wisdom of that other place will prove beneficial when added to the experience that my honourable and gallant friend acquired during the great struggle against aggression and tyranny which is known, at least to middle aged citizens and to students, as World War II. Although forgotten by many, the truth is that great and paramount lessons were learned by those who survived those vital years of 1939 to 1945. The right honourable member for Higgins is the first Royal Australian Air Force officer to become Prime Minister of Australia. It is my view that aviators all over the country will wish him good fortune and success with the 'fearsome responsibilities' of his high office.

The Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General deals wilh the problems of Government which constitute these fearsome responsibilities' that I have just mentioned. First in significance is the war in South Vietnam. I note that the Australian Government will continue to support the Governments of South Vietnam and the United States of America and their allies: . . in an endeavour to ensure that aggression by force of arms, terrorism and subversion is not successful in subjecting the people of South Vietnam to rule by an aggressor.

However much we may find the horrors of war repugnant, the truth is that our objective will be achieved only when the aggressor is convinced that victory is impossible. We have stated again and again that our objective does not include the aggressor's destruction. Thus the enemy knows that his own country, although subjected to limited bombing, is not threatened with invasion. This comfort to the aggressor has found a place in His Excellency's Speech. He said:

.   . my Government desires neither the destruction of North Vietnam, nor the overthrow of the Government of North Vietnam but merely the cessation of aggression. . . .

I venture to suggest that no aggressor has ever been impressed by an enemy's objective which begins with or contains the adverb merely'. The objectives of the enemy are clear and I feel sure that the majority of Australians see this position clearly. The election results over recent years have proved this point. There can be no quarrel wilh the statement that over the recent years, from 1963 through until 1966, the great issue in all these elections for this House of Representatives was - as it still remains - the war in Vietnam. It is clear that underlying the terror and the harassment of the South Vietnamese by the Vietcong, is the purpose and the objective of North Vietnam, backed and encouraged by Communist China in order to expand Communist control over the peoples of the independent nations of South East Asia. Such techniques of clandestine warfare, of covert aggression leading to the overt aggression and ultimate defeat of the victim nations if they were to prove successful, would lead to the development of the Vietnam technique' against the independent peoples throughout the world in the undeveloped areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America. From North Vietnam the military commander-in-chief, General Giap, is on the record as saying that the war in South Vietnam is the very model of the national liberation movements of our time. Also from North Vietnam its Prime Minister is on record as saying:

The experience of our compatriots in South Vietnam attracts the attention of the world, especially the peoples of Latin America.

Only a few years ago the 'Peking People's Daily' carried an editorial which stated:

It is advantageous from the point of view of tactics to refer to the desire for peaceful transition from capitalism to Communism, but it would be inappropriate to emphasise that possibility.

The editorial continued:

The Communist Party must never entertain the illusion that the transition to Communism can be achieved through the parliamentary road. Violent revolution is the universal law of proletarian revolution. To realise the transition to Communism, the proletariat must wage armed struggle.

Finally there is the now world famous statement of Mao Tse-tung:

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

People like this have only contempt for adversaries who use words like 'merely'. For my part I should have preferred to see the phrase 'in a total sense' used in the Speech instead of the adverb 'merely'. Then the Speech would have read like this:

My Government believes that the South Vietnamese people should retain the elementary right to determine their own future in their own way and will, besides the effective military assistance it is rendering to this end. continue to provide economic and civil aid to South Vietnam.

In doing this, my Government desires neither the destruction of North Vietnam, nor the overthrow of the Government of North Vietnam but in a total sense the cessation of aggression against the people of South Vietnam . . .

In my view this would have been a more appropriate expression in these circumstances.

I turn now to another aspect of this matter which is exciting the attention of Australia's people in view of recent events. It is my view that the time has now arrived for a limited form of Press censorship in relation to matters concerned with the war in Vietnam. Troop movements and shipping movements are referred to in our Press in a manner which I regard as militarily irresponsible. The enemy is watching and listening for 24 hours of every day to collect and collate all information which would be of interest to the intelligence officers of the North Vietnamese headquarters and the Vietcong. I have watched detailed television reports on particular areas of South Vietnam which I know would be of real interest to the enemy and I cannot help feeling that there are in this country people who have ways and means of passing information to the enemy.

I wish now to turn to that section of the Governor-General's Speech which deals with the British Government's decision to withdraw from Malaysia and Singapore. Reference is made to those ground forces which for so long have contributed to the stability of the region. I have some comments to make on this matter and some members of the Cabinet may feel that I am critical of Australian statements designed to indicate that Australia has no intention of taking over Great Britain's responsibility in South East Asia. In my view those comments are singularly unfortunate because they create in the minds of the Australian people a false concept. They create the idea that it may be possible for Australia in some way to avoid the dire responsibilities of 'emergency' in South East Asia. This is wrong. No matter what the Australian Government says about not accepting responsibilities that are being handed over to the Governments in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur by the British Government, the truth of the matter is that if 'emergency' in a real sense does arise the people of Australia will have to help in that fight.

The threats to stability which have been referred to may be reviewed over the last 25 years. First, there was the Second World War. From the late 1920s, the United Kingdom Government provided a plan which was described as the 'Main Fleet to Singapore' in the event of a conflagration in South East Asia. It will be recalled that in the early 1930s the Japanese conquest of Manchuria had begun. It was at this time that the Main Fleet to Singapore concept was announced by the United Kingdom Government as being the main plan to protect the interests of the British Empire in the Far East. We now know from experience, which to many honourable gentlemen has been of a very personal nature, that this was a policy based upon a complete misunderstanding of circumstances and without a proper appreciation of equipment needed to implement that policy. It is true to say that the efforts of the United Kingdom to protect Singapore, particularly when it was necessary in 1942, were fearfully unfortunate having regard to those policies which were being carried out by the United Kingdom Government in the early 1930s at the precise time when it was talking about a Main Fleet to Singapore' concept. This was a time when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was conducting political campaigns on the basis that the United Kingdom would take no part in war and would not re-arm. The people who lost their lives or who went into captivity in South East Asia in 1942 found themselves on the receiving end of these policies of appeasement - policies which failed to face realities in the 1930s and left the armed forces ill-equipped in every sense of the term for 1942 when the first great threat to the stability of this area arose.

When the threat from the Japanese developed in 1942 it was the Europeans in the area who at least fought to stop the area from being conquered. I know of nobody who can speak at great length on the efforts made by those people indigenous to the area. The second attempt to create instability - to destroy prosperity, peace and good government in the area - was the Communist attempt to subvert and conquer Malaya in the post-war period. It was here, culminating in the success of Field Marshal Templer, that the British Army carried out a series of policies which resulted in the failure of the Communist campaign. That campaign was part of a concerted effort which was developed side by side with the efforts being made in Indo-China and in the Philippines by the Hukbalahaps. as well as in Burma and Thailand in those days. It was the soldiers from the United Kingdom, supported by considerable forces from Australia, who protected Malaya on that occasion. So on the second occasion when the threat and the emergency developed, Australians, whether they liked it or not, were involved.

The third threat to stability has been Indonesia's confrontation. On this occasion also, like it or not, Australians were involved. The truth is that Australia's front line is in Malaya and whenever our front line is threatened we will participate. I therefore find unacceptable statements indicating that the people of the United Kingdom are ignoring their real responsibilities and retiring from the area and that we, for a variety of reasons which are purely selfish, propose to do nothing to replace the defensive power that is being removed. After all, that power is 'people'. There has been no suggestion from the Government of the United Kingdom or from the Australian Government that naval power and air power would not be available to protect Malaysia or Singapore, because it is apparent to most people that naval power in 1968 refers to such ships as H.M.S. Revenge', which was launched recently and which carries sufficient power to destroy an enemy that may launch an armed attack upon the city of Singapore. Naval power of the future will be seen in the form of the Polaris submarine in the area to which I have referred.

Reference is made in the GovernorGeneral's Speech to the absence of the mobile amphibious force. I suppose this is a reference to the special commando force, escorted by aircraft carriers and protected from submarine attack, to be based in close proximity to Malaysia so that it would be possible for the government attacked to call upon the United Kingdom Government to send the force to its assistance. I think it is clear that if such a force were to exist it could be based only in Australia. It would be childish to suggest that it could be based in India and absurd- to suggest that it could be based in South Africa. It is quite apparent that the port facilities for maintenance of the vast vessels involved in such an amphibious force would need to be in the Commonwealth of Australia. It is my view that as future defence commitments develop within this country it will be clear to all that such a powerful naval base will be needed somewhere on the northern shores of Australia.

As I said earlier, Australian participation in the circumstances of the first two threats and the third threat is now an established fact of history. If there is to be a fourth threat to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, we must ask ourselves what form it will take. We have the evidence of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who states that if the West withdraws from the area, his nation will go into the Communist mincing machine within a couple of years. I assume Mr Lee Kuan Yew knows what he is talking about. I understand that he has many friends on the other side of this chamber. He ought to be taking steps to prepare some of his own citizens so that they will be able to prevent this process from taking place. I am confident that if Singapore and Malaysia look like being swept into the Communist mincing machine - and there is justification in what Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Tunku Abdul Rahman have said about that possibility - Australia will be represented in efforts to defend them. It is of no help to the people of Australia to let them imagine an absolutely false set of circumstances. It is far more valuable to the welfare of this country to tell the Australian people the truth. They are interested in the facts and are prepared to stand up and face them when the need to do so is shown to them. 1 want to make two or three comments about recent events in Papua and New Guinea. I am delighted to observe in the Governor-General's Speech mention once more of the view that the Commonwealth sees the destiny of Papua and New Guinea as a self governing country, and regards it now as developing towards the attainment of independence at a time when it is clearly demonstrated by the majority of the indigenous people that this is what they wish. I hope we shall adhere to this policy. We shall have to provide great sums of money to assist the indigenous people along the road to education and economic viability.

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