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Tuesday, 19 March 1968

Mr SPEAKER - No. The fact is that the honourable member for Boothby is making a passing reference to the debate.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He can do that?

Mr SPEAKER - Yes. He is quite in order in making a passing reference to the debate but 1 say to the honourable member for Boothby that he should not continue along that line for any great distance.

Mr McLEAY - I will not mention it again and I am sure that will satisfy all honourable members. However, I should like to refer to a letter 1 received on 10th February from a young friend of mine who is a national serviceman at present serving in Vietnam, and to a second letter I received from him a few days ago. 1 am concerned because what I believe to be important points of view put forward by honourable members on the Government side are rarely properly and fully reported. I am anxious to say something tonight because the proceedings of this House are being broadcast and only in this event can we be sure that what we believe in is transmitted to the public. Some sections of the Press are very good at using headlines such as one which appeared in a Victorian newspaper last Friday. It reads: 'PM Admits Torture Charges'. The word 'torture' is not even in parenthesis, as it should have been because this was a long way from being torture. I propose to illustrate to honourable gentlemen opposite just what torture or sadism really is. I have a letter that I received from a national serviceman serving in Vietnam which reads:

These Vietcong are dirty little sadistic animals. Over half the people in Baria have been murdered by these . . .

I cannot use the next word, Mr Speaker, because I think you would rule it to be unparliamentary, but it is a word that I, too, use to describe them. The letter continues: . . when they had control .of the town. A lot of women were raped over and over and then bad their throats slit. The old lady who did our laundry for us was found crucified, nailed to ยป wall, with her throat cm, so that will give you an idea of what goes on. If any of these Vietnam war sympathisers try and rubbish our commitment here when I'm around there will be a considerable number of knuckle sandwiches handed out, I'm afraid.

This is the final sentence that I would like to read:

God help us if we don't slop them here and they get to Australia.

That is what I call torture. Another letter from the same young man has just arrived. A very brief extract reads:

I Inn a letter from Dad this morning and he is worried sick about me as are the rest of my family.

This is what worries me - the sort of rubbishing which is done to secure political advantage and which obviously has an effect on the morale of our troops up there. I would say to all of the men on service and to their parents and sweethearts that we in this part of Australia are proud of them, and I am sure that 1 speak for almost all Australians. To the parents, families and sweethearts of the 18 killed and 21 wounded as a result of the action referred to earlier tonight I say: 'We are proud of you.' I should like to read, because they are appropriate, brief extracts from statements made by a British journalist in the Daily Mail' just a couple of weeks ago. Referring to the war in Vietnam and his own shame that Great Britain was not involved with us, he wrote:

The war there is confused and horrible, its aims blurred, its methods savage, ils cost in innocent blood uncountable. But if it is lost, if the Americans finally get. tired of doing the world's work for nothing but the world's abuse, if South Vietnam is left too ils fate, then what will follow is not merely the piecemeal engulfing of the rest of South East Asia. What will follow, as surely as Austria followed the Rhineland, and Czechoslovakia followed Austria, and Poland followed Czechoslovakia, and 6 years of world war followed Poland, is a nuclear confrontation on a global scale between the forces at present engaged in one tiny corner of the globe.

I will go along with that. To those who have loved ones serving in Vietnam and other theatres of war, I pass on these final words of the journalist:

Our words may be useless, but they are all we have to offer. We understand why you are there, and know that your cause is ours too.

I close on that note, and I am pleased to be able to do so while we are on the air.

Debate (on motion by Mr Cope) adjourned.

House adjourned at 10,55 p.m.

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