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Monday, 19 October 1970

Mr GRAHAM (North Sydney) - I feel, that the last few speeches in this debate have been a little frivolous. I think it would be in the interests of the Committee if I were to say to my old friend, the ; . honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) who spoke quite seriously and with a quite intense approach to this subject, : that the 3 references he made were most unfortunate,1 particularly in the way in which he made them. I believe that the Committee should take notice of the fact that his criticism of a senator who is a member of his Party is significant to the Government and to the people of Australia, largely because of the fact that the criticism by the senator related to a New Zealand artillery unit. The honourable member for Grayndler was a member of this House when the late Right Honourable John Curtin was Prime Minister of Australia. Had that statement been made at that time, it is my humble opinion that the then Prime Minister would have had an apology in writing to General Freyberg from that senator.

I saw an honourable gentleman opposite rise to speak during an adjournment debate here, and make an apology to the former member for Hume for some incredible comments, recorded in Hansard, related to the Victoria Cross. Although the honourable member for Grayndler used those words in excitement, they are reprehensible in the context in which they were used. He said 'when the "Melbourne" sank the "Evans" '. His comments were most unfortunate. They carried with them an implication of responsibility that was reprehensible in the extreme. In my judgment it was quite unfortunate that they should be uttered in that matter.

The honourable member also referred to Admiral Crabb. I was present when the interview to which the honourable member referred took place. I know full well that the Admiral was misrepresented by the pressmen who were present. The truth of the matter is that after a day at sea, members of this Parliament and of the Press took part in an interview with the fleet commander. He was asked about the guided missile destroyers and a reference was made to a viable force. It is quite clear to most intelligent people that in most circumstances . 6 warships are likely to be a more viable force than 3 warships, and this was the comment that the Admiral was making. It was sensationalised by the Press into a very unfortunate set of circumstances. I thought therefore that my friend from Grayndler, would have been fairer to this House had he been more consistent with the facts.

The recent improvements in pay, allowances and conditions of service within the

Australian armed forces are a clear indication of the objectives of the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Minister for the Navy, (Mr Killen), the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) and the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). The new inquiry should be a thorough reappraisal of the relevant circumstances in a total sense and should lead to a modern concept of the armed forces establishing a public image of profound significance to the future of Australia. The prosperity and wealth within the Australian economy have had an effect in 1970 upon the Australian armed forces, an effect never before seen in our national history. This is because we are. more prosperous and wealthy as a nation than ever before in our national history. This means that today, on a scale never known before, our highly trained technical servicemen and administrators at all levels and ranks are more likely to be attracted out of the armed forces into our rapidly expanding national economy.

Against that background I wish to look at the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam when he talked about his support for the equality of service life set against a background of general civilian standards. He said that this was supremely important. He made his statements as a gesture of condescention to the House and to the armed forces and indicated that as far as the Opposition was concerned this was a vital part of their policy.

Mr Uren - Mr Deputy Chairman, I draw your attention to the fact that some time ago the House made a decision in regard to the 11 o'clock rule.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - The arrangement does not apply on Monday nights; it applies on the other sitting nights. There is no substance in the honourable member's point of order.

Mr GRAHAM - The Leader of the Opposition said this:

Service life must be equal in every sense to the general standards in civilian occupations.

I wish to tell honourable members that in my judgment he is wrong. It must be superior and more attractive economically to enable the armed forces to have the very first choice of the best of Australians. The cost of the investment in defence equipment for all Australians is higher than ever before in our history.. We must seek to convince those people responsible for government, in this Parliament and outside it, that Australia's very survival as a nation will be substantially affected by the international reputation of Australia's armed forces. The very powerful senior officers in the great public service departments must be convinced in their own interests that dissatisfaction and discontent in the Australian armed forces reflects in truth upon them because they are the advisers of the parliamentarians who constitute the Cabinet. What is the environment in this world of 1970 which leads me to state that outarmed forces must be the very best of our people?

There are four factors that I would like to mention. Firstly, the world has become a much smaller place because we now measure distances not in terms of statute or nautical miles but in time. This concept is of profound significance, for those people responsible for Australia's defence policy and future survival. Secondly, the population explosion is also of enormous significance to Australia because the present world population of 3,200 million people will double to 6,400 million by 2000 AD. The most significant truth, as demonstrated this evening by my colleague the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), of the international situation in 1970, is the generally accepted validity of the international cognizance of Communist aims and objectives of world domination. It is true that speeches and documents presented by Communist leaders for SO years have announced that the destruction of all forms of government other than Communism is their ultimate objective.

How then is 1970 different from previous years and how does 1970 demonstrate this Communist growth of international influence and power more clearly than in any previous year in the 20th century? The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now is the most significant power in the Mediterranean and has control of the Suez Canal. The USSR has a navy of 551 effective warships around a core of 350 submarines. The armies of die Warsaw Pact countries are the most powerful in Europe in 1970. The forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were the most powerful in 1960. The diplomacy of the USSR has been responsible for remarkable successes in South America, Africa and Asia since 1967.

All of these factors are reasons why we must get the very best of our people into our armed forces. We will get them and keep them there only if the standards of Service conditions and allowances are superior generally to the standards that exist outside the armed forces. It is my firm belief that history will prove in this place that there will be an awareness over these next 2 or 3 years and I believe that ultimately it will be reflected in the beads of perspiration that will characterise the faces of our gallant colleagues who sit on the Opposition side of the House.

Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:

That progress be reported.

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