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Monday, 19 October 1970

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) (Minister for the Navy) - It is not that I have succumbed to the charms of the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) but 1 am emboldened to break my silence. His Walter Mitty performance this evening has prevailed upon me to say a word or two- He has complained with, I thought, a mock sense of anger about one law for Labor, one law for Liberal. He reversed it on one or two occasions and it was one law for Liberal and another for Labour. I just want to bring the honourable gentleman back to his muttons about this matter. Firs: of all he has attacked my colleague, the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock), about Lieutenant-Colonel Forward and my colleague's defence of him. I want to say to the honourable gentleman that it is a pretty old defence as far as our existence is concerned that one can fall back on provocation. If ever there was a glaring example of provocation given by anyone to any person ever serving in any armed Service it was offered by a Labor senator to a man serving in the field, facing angry men and being shot at.

Mr Daly - What is the Minister for?

Mr KILLEN - I will come to that. You have dished it out; see if you can contrive to take it.

Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - It is bad enough having to listen to you.

Mr KILLEN - There is the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) with his brown shirt and brown tie. If he wants to have an argument he should realise one thing: There are 2 people . who will join the argument. The honourable member for Lalor could not make a fuss in a fowl house at night. Here is the case of a colonel in the field. It has been said of his colleagues that their sense of competence is such that they shelled Australian troops. I have one regret about the honourable member for Grayndler and that is that he never passed through the gentle hands of some gentle minded warrant officer disciplinarian because if he had some of his instincts today would have been greatly improved. That was the provocation offered to a serving colonel in the field. I would like the honourable member for Grayndler to know that I support completely what my colleague the Minister for the Army said when speaking on behalf of the colonel. He said:

Admittedly there was a breach or Army regulations but it was a breach made under the influence of provocation.

Now I want to come to the honourable member for Grayndler's argument this evening, to dignify it somewhat. He referred to Admiral Crabb. If the honourable member were to move around the Services a bit he would find out a few things. 1 have never met an admiral in my life who has not asked for more ships. I have never met a serving commander in the field who has not said he would like more troops. I do not know of any person who has commanded a group in the Air Force who has not said he would welcome more aircraft:

It is very easy for the honourable gentleman to call in this sort of undergraduate argument and try to impeach the credibility of the Government and to fall back on the argument with which he attacked my predecessor, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), heaping upon him such contumely. I do not think that adds anything to the gaiety of affairs at all. If the honourable gentleman takes the view that by assailing a person he will impeach his argument, 1 think he has spent 23 or 30 years in this place in vain.

In the few minutes that I wish to occupy the time of the Committee I want to refer to one or two other matters. I want to refer to the speech, adverted to by one or two honourable members, which was made by the former head of the Department of Defence, Sir Henry Bland. This is a speech which has been greeted as being the second deliverance of a set of tablets. I think, with great respect to Sir Henry Bland, that the role of critic is a very easy role and a very tempting role to fulfil, but when you have the responsibility of discharging office and when you have' the responsibility of answering to a parliament and in the ultimate to the electorate it is an entirely different proposition. What I would like honourable members opposite to face up to this evening is this simple question: Do they support the proposition that there should be integration of the Australian armed Services? That is the question I want to put to them because I would suggest that it is implicit in the speech delivered by Sir Henry Bland- not merely that there should be a truncation of Service activity but also that there should be in the foreseeable future integration of the Australian armed Services.

Mr Uren - Come off it.

Mr KILLEN - I think this is a matter not to be discussed gaily but to be treated seriously because it involves some quite fundamental propositions. I think that if honourable members opposite are going to say that the observations which Sir Henry Bland offered are right in every particular they should say: 'Well, for my part I believe in integration*. But the Government stand is opposed to that. The Government believes in putting the emphasis upon joint operation and there is a welcome field of activity for joint operation. But to suggest that in this nation today in its present condition - I am talking now about its political condition, about its social attitudes, about the whole of its environmental attitude towards the armed Services - integration is in front of us is, in my view, and I believe in the view of the Government simply not on.

I would ask honourable member opposite to heed what I am sure has been our experience in our own political organisations. That is, to appoint a committee is not to solve a problem, and I believe that most of us would take the view that one of the swiftest ways of dispensing, albeit temporarily, of a problem is to appoint a committee to solve it. One of the very real difficulties that my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and my other colleagues in the armed Services face to day is facing up to what I would describe as being one of the difficulties of decision in the past. These decisions are being made today and some people as a consequence are being hurt today, but the decisions are being made. I would like this Committee to know and I would like the country to know that the Minister for Defence is quite determined, and all of the Service Ministers are determined, to see that if a decision has to be made it will be made and it will be made with a measure of promptness. It will be to no point at all for any person to say this is something which is going to upset somebody here or upset somebody elsewhere.

Mr Morrison - What is your opinion?

Mr Hayden - Do not be cynical.

Mr KILLEN - This is typical. It is an incredible thing. Here we have the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), the honourable member for Lalor and the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who have the most synthetic interest in defence of any trio that I can imagine on the other side. As far as the honourable member for Oxley is concerned I would be the closest to an angry man he has ever seen in his life. The honourable members opposite who are seeking to interject served only in the education service. They would know a tot about it, I am sure

I want to come to what has been a fundamental assumption of the Labor Party in the matter of defence. This was referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) this evening and by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The one simple dominating assumption of me Labor Party in defence matters is simply this: Let the rest of the world go by.

If one wants to have that pointed up-

Mr Keating - That is not true.

Mr KILLEN - It is true, I say to the honourable member with great respect. 1 commend to him as compulsory reading the Fabian lecture given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Australian defence last year, when he said, among other things - this is the keynote; this is the basis upon which the whole of the honourable gentleman's argument rests:

The basic contention of the Labor Party is thai Australia's strategic frontiers are its natural boundaries.

Mr Kennedy - Hear, hear!

Mr KILLEN - Where is the measure of agreement?

Mr Hayden - John Gorton has his hand up.

Mr KILLEN - Here is the honourable member for Oxley trying to persuade me to desist from finding out who agrees with that. But, if any honourable gentleman opposite is minded to reject it, I hope that he will find the sense of spirit to stand up and say so. We find this manifested in all arguments-

Mr Foster - I do not disagree with that and 1 will say so.

Mr KILLEN - Look here, Screaming Lord Sutch-

Mr Foster - Make seme-thing else your front line and see where you get off in this day and age, mate.

Mr KILLEN - Why don't you go and play a mouth organ?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! There are too many interjections. The honourable member for Sturt will cease interjecting.

Mr Foster - The molecule from Moreton; the classic example.

Mr KILLEN - I do not know what that adenoidal outburst was all about; but 1 will come back on to the argument that I was putting. I was saying that this is the base upon which the Labor Party operates today - that Australia's natural boundaries are its strategic frontiers. I suppose that this accounts for the fact that there is not one illustration of support ever having been offered by the Australian Labor Party for joint operations with any of our allies in this continent.

Mr Cohen - Certainly not with Russia.

Mr KILLEN - Here it comes. Let us take a look at the joint operations. There is the ANZUS agreement. If one cares to grab hold of that powerful, forward looking document known as the 'Platform, Constitution and Rules' of the Australian Labor Party-

Mr Uren - What does that mean?

Mr KILLEN - Frankly, I think it is couched in abominable English; but then, I. doubt whether the honourable member would be one who could arbitrate on that matter. The Australian Labor Party says: The nation's defence must be no arranged-

Mr Uren - Tell me what the constitutional processes of the United States Senate mean.

Mr KILLEN - 1 think you are a victim of hypnopaedia. You have a gramophone underneath your bed. The Australian Labor Party says:

The nation's defence must be so arranged-

Mr Kennedy - Listen to this. This is very important.

Mr KILLEN - Really and truly! I know that the honourable member for Reid has not the brain to understand what I am saying, but I would have hoped that at least he would have found the stomach to listen to it.

Mr Uren - Tell me what-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! There are far too many interjections from my left. Some honourable members seem to think that they can take charge of the Committee. The Minister has the right. to be heard and honourable members have the right to hear him. I suggest that the Committee come to order.

Mr KILLEN - I was quoting from this document, which I am bound to inform the Committee has an autograph inside it. It is addressed to me and it is signed by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party - a simple manifestation of Bonapartism. some may say; but still, there it is. I want to read this out. So, do not interrupt me. because it upsets me no end. It says:

The nation's defence must be so arranged that the intention of Australia to defend herself to the limits of her ability is clear beyond all doubt to her own people, to her allies and to any potential aggressor.

How has the tabor Party faced up to that? It has roundly trounced the agreement made pursuant to the ANZUS treaty to establish a joint base at Woomera. It has criticised American presence at Pine Gap, again a joint base. It has criticised on every imaginable occasion any AustralianAmerican operation to secure the integrity of any country outside of Australia.

Mr Kennedy - That is a complete distortion.

Mr KILLEN - It is all very fine for the honourable gentleman to try to resist this argument. I want now to demonstrate exactly how unreal the attitude of the Australian Labor Party is in this field. Let me turn to that high authority - that impeccable authority the honourable member for Reid, who said that the Government should reduce its expenditure on armament and use the money it is now wasting On expenditure for war to work for peace; it could devote the money 10 peaceful uses such as the Colombo Plan; it should disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations. I want to ask honourable gentlemen opposite how do' : they square the two? Do they take the View that this country can enter into ' bilateral or multilateral agreements and then resile from them simply by saying: 'We 'will contribute to something that may be going on organised by the United Nations'? A further point . that 1 would make about this is the reference of the Australian Labor Party to periodically reviewing defence treaties and alliances.

Mr Uren -What about, the date of that comment? What have you done since?

Mr KILLEN - Really and truly, Mr Deputy Chairman; I think that the honourable member is the best trained cockatoo I have ever seen , in this chamber. The Labor Party says: 'Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise'. What does that mean?

Mr Keating - What is wrong witta that?

Mr KILLEN - The honourable gentleman interjects, but I ask him: Does this mean to say that we can turn around and say to the other members of the ANZUS agreement that we will review our obligations? If there is one sure and certain fact about international life today it is that one cannot get specific performance of an international agreement. One can only fall back on the goodwill that one has built up and if we are going to repudiate agreements which we have made-

Mr Morrison - We are not repudiating.

Mr KILLEN - The honourable member for St George says that no repudiation is involved. I say this to the honourable gentleman: If the review of an agreement, of a treaty, which has been laid out and solemnly signed, takes you to the point where you say it is embarrassing to us and therefore we repudiate it, that is an example of review taken to the ultimate. I think this is one of the essential points which is deserving of emphasis both in this Parliament and in the country.

I want now to say something about the criticism that has been made by one or two honourable gentlemen concerning the Royal Australian Navy, and I would refer to the charge that was made this afternoon by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) concerning the quality of the Oberon submarines. The Oberon submarine is the best conventional submarine of its kind in the world. I have made that allegation. That is not my view as a layman; it is a view based upon those technically qualified to make such an assessment. If any honourable gentleman opposite takes the stand that he is entitled to say this is nonsense, he carries some measure of obligation to produce the proof and put it before us to show the basis upon which he makes that assertion. One of the very real difficulties today so far as the Navy is concerned, not merely of planning but also all defence planning, is the complexity of it.

Mr Uren - You were in the Air Force.

Mr KILLEN - Yes, I was in the Air Force, and I am not ashamed of it either. The very real difficulties about defence planning today are the complexity and the cost. Those 2 difficulties are greatly exacerbated by the fact that there are enormous lead times from the time when a decision is made until there is delivery of the equipment. It is one thing today for the Royal Australian Navy to put its hand to the decision and to say it is going to commit itself to a programme of light destroyers, but it is another thing to await their actual production. I do not care into which country in the world one goes, one finds that this is a common experience. It is the experience of the 2 great naval shipbuilding countries in the Western world, the United Kingdom and the United States. I should like the Committee and the country to know that the Department of the Navy is seeking on every possible occasion to see where and how any of the timetables can be reasonably cut to ensure that the best possible equipment is provided for those who serve in the Navy and, furthermore, to ensure that the Royal Australian Navy, as it faces the very difficult years ahead, will make the maximum contribution to the welfare and security of this country.

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