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Monday, 19 October 1970

Mr JARMAN (Deakin) - When we consider the defence of Australia we cannot do this in isolation from world affairs. We cannot do it without taking into account what is occurring to our north in Asia and to our west in the Indian Ocean and Africa. Recently there have been 2 significant announcements - announcements which I believe we must take into account when we are assessing the future defence needs of this country. One has been the recognition by Canada of the Peking Government and the presumption that Canada will support the admission of Communist China to the United Nations. One may well ask why Australia should not recognise mainland China. Here we have a nation of 700 million people which is almost one-fifth of the world's population. After all, Australia gives de facto recognition to mainland China when we trade with her. One may well ask why should we not trade with China? After all, we trade with Russia and we recognise that country. Yet Russia has been just as guilty, probably more so, of offending against the peace and security of other nations than even Peking. We recognise and trade with countries such as Hungary and Czechoslovakia which have had unrepresentative and undemocratic governments forced on them by Russian military might. So why then should we not recognise Communist China? We trade with that country for the same reason that it trades with us - because trade helps our balance of payments and hence the standard of living of our people.

The reason why we cannot recognise mainland China or support its admission to the United Nations is not the fault of Australia or the Western democracies. It is the price that mainland China demands for condescending to join the United Nations - a price that I would think no principled nation should be prepared to pay. Mainland China's price of recognition is twofold. Firstly, mainland China requires that Taiwan, a nation of 14 million people - a population bigger than that of Australia - should be kicked out, holus bolus, from the United Nations. Secondly, Communist China requires the acceptance of the sovereignty of mainland China over the 14 million free Chinese in Taiwan. By its conditions, Communist China precludes its own admission to the United Nations. The recognition by Canada may be a great victory for the Chinese Communists, but the fact that Canada has seen fit to take note - I think this was th? wording - of Communist China's claim to sovereignty over Taiwan despite the wishes of the people of that country and simultaneously to break off diplomatic relations with the free Chinese Government of Taiwan shows, I believe, the Canadian Governlent of Mr Pierre Trudeau to be one of expediency rather than one of principle.

But as we have seen with the North Vietnamese in Paris, Asian Communists are patient people; they have only to wait until their friends within the Western democracies so manipulate public opinion that the democracies' resistance crumbles from within. So Communist China probably feels that time is on her side. She has only to wait until the resistance of the Western democracies to her entry to the United Nations collapses from within and then she wilt stroll into the world body on her own terms. Hanoi has the same approach. It has only to remain stubborn at the Paris Peace talks and allow its friends in Australia and America to go ahead with their moratoriums to undermine the resistance of the Western democracies to its aggression in Indo-China. In the end, they believe, they will achieve what they want.

The other significant announcement affecting Australia's defence policy was that of President Nixon who stated that a further 40,000 American troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam. This will leave 284,000 American troops in South Vietnam, which is 276,000 more than Australia has in that country at this time. But even Australia with only 8,000 troops in Vietnam will be withdrawing 1 battalion in the next few weeks. If these withdrawals were a military decision I have no doubt that no-one would question them. But only last week on the front page of the 'Australian' newspaper there appeared an attack on the pull-out of Australian troops. I would like to quote from this newspaper report which is headed 'Australian Officers Attack Troops Pull-out'. The article states:

The commander of the 5,300-strong Australian task force in Vietnam said today the life of his men would be much tougher after the withdrawal soon of a third of his infantry.

Withdrawal will merely mean that we will have to work very much harder than al the moment, which is already pretty hard', Brigadier William Henderson said at his headquarters at Nui Dat, 45 miles south east of Saigon.

Hisappraisal coincided with careful implications at Nui Dat that withdrawal had been dictated more by internal Austraiian political considerations than by military feasibility.

The brigadier said the pullout would also mean operational changes. 'Tactical dispositions will have to be changed,' he said, and he hinted the Task Force might not be as effective as before. lt would be up to Vietnamese headquarters,' he said, 'to decide whether 1 have enough troops to maintain pressure.

Officers here said that if all the Task Force were withdrawn now, the province would revert to the Vietcong, because local militia forces were not yet ready io take over.

Yet it is the complete withdrawal of the Task Force that the Opposition is demanding. The 1.966 Federal elections were fought on the issue of Australian participation in Vietnam. The Australian people returned this Government with the biggest majority in the history of this Parliament. In 1969 Australia's participation was not the only issue, but it was a major issue, and again the Government was returned with a good majority. It was then that we found the Australian left hijacking the Government out of the Parliament and into the streets. We had the May Moratorium in Melbourne, which was variously reported to have been attended by between 30.000 and 70,000 unionists, students and others, and the September Moratorium, which had dwindled to an estimated 20,000, a relatively small number when one considers that Melbourne has a population of over 2 million people. I instance these matters because I believe they show the attempts which are being made to take the decisions regarding the defence of this country out of the hands of the duly elected Government.

Last week in this very chamber the British Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference was held. The areas to our north and west came in for discussion, and varying shades of political opinion were present. Several delegates, including a Communist delegate from Ceylon, attacked what Australia and America are doing to protect the South Vietnamese from Communist aggression. We were told: 'You must not interfere in the internal affairs of another nation.'

Mr Garrick - Hear, hear.

Mr JARMAN - 1 am glad to hear an honourable member opposite say 'Hear, hear', because it was interesting the next day to hear the same delegates about face and call for armed intervention in the internal affairs of Rhodesia. It was suggested that Britain should send in troops to overthrow the Rhodesian Government by force. They demanded that sanctions against the Rhodesian people should be increased. I pointed out - logically, I thought - that if it is wrong to interfere in the internal affairs of Vietnam, then it must ipso facto be wrong to interfere in the internal affairs of Rhodesia. I also pointed out that if it is right to recognise Russia and China on the basis that you cannot deny that they exist, then by the same premise you must also recognise Rhodesia because you cannot deny that it exists. If you place sanctions on Rhodesia because you do not like its policies, surely then to be consistent you should place sanctions on Russia or mainland China when you dislike their policies, or else you do it to none of them.

The lesson I learned from attending the British Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference was this - and I say it with deep regret: There ate some nations that will see only what they want to see in international affairs. They can argue one way one day when it suits their purpose, and then in another situation do a complete somersault and argue the exact opposite. This has also become apparent at the United Nations which, after a tarnished 25 years, has sadly deteriorated into nothing more than a forum for nations to peddle their own propaganda.

The only arguments that some nations will accept are those which are made from a position of strength. This Government believes that Australia should have a strong defence policy, and we make no apology for it. We believe that matters affecting the defence of this country should be made by the duly elected Government with the guidance of its defence experts, and not by mobs of wharfies and students demonstrating in the streets. As long as we remain the Government of Australia the defence of this country will not be allowed to fall into such hands.

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