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Wednesday, 12 April 1972
Page: 1505


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - Recently on behalf of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign I issued a call for people to join the demonstration in Melbourne on Friday 21st April. Many people will come. Some who do come will believe that North Vietnam is right in the action it has taken in Vietnam; others may not. Some will believe that the Australian alliance with America should end; others may not. Noone is bound by or committed to any one aim of that demonstration. The Australian Labor Party is not bound by or committed to the policy of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. They are 2 different organisations. I fully support the use of public streets for demonstrations. Demonstrations are an important part of the democratic process. Recently in South Australia there was an examination by a royal commis sion, the most thorough that has ever taken place in this country, in relation to demonstrations and the Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice Bright of the South Australian Supreme Court, pointed out by quoting Mr Justice Kerr in Wright v. McQualter that peaceful demonstration is an important part of the democratic process. Mr Justice Bright, relating that to the situation, went on to recommend . that this be recognised and that the law which, normally might prevent any kind of action being taken in this way should be administered in a way that peaceful and reasonable demonstrations should become anaccepted part of community activity. I know that the Victorian Government has accepted that royal commission report and that in both Victoria and South Australia demonstration has become an accepted part of the democratic process. This, must remain so. This right must be maintained. It can only be maintained if it is exercised, and it will be exercised in Melbourne on 21st of this month.

It is important to realise that a ' large number of people, fair and reasonable men, in Australia believe that the North Vietnamese are right in the military action they have taken in South Vietnam. I believe and am fully convinced that the North Vietnamese are justified in the action they have taken in South Vietnam. I think it is important for the House to hear some of the reasons why people are convinced that North Vietnam is justified in taking this action. The first reason is that Vietnam is not two countries but one. Any guilt laid on North Vietnam is based upon an argument that it has invaded another country. It has not invaded another country. Those who claim that Vietnam is 2 countries rely upon the Geneva Agreement of 1954 but that Agreement does not divide Vietnam. The honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar), who preceded me, quoted that Agreement deceitfully and wrongly, as has been the case on almost every occasion that attention has been given to this matter. Article 1 of the Agreement, partially quoted by the honourable member to suit his purposes, provides 'provisional demarcation line between 2 regrouping zones, not a boundary between 2 countries'. I repeat: Not a boundary between 2 countries. Article 6 of the Declaration says that the essential purpose of the Agreement relating to Vietnam is to settle military questions with a view to ending hostilities and that the military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary, Article 6 of the Declaration upon which this claim is based says that. This would have been apparent for years to everybody here if they had had the honesty and decency to look up that Article, to face up to what it says and to quote it. But honourable member's opposite have done none of those things.

When it came to signing the Agreement in Geneva in 1954 the Government of the South, the Bao Dai Government, refused to sign and gave as its specific reason, which was recorded in the Agreement documents, that 'there can be no acceptance of any agreement that provided a permanent or temporary de facto or de jure partition of the national territory'. I am quoting now what was said by the Government in Saigon, the Government that honourable members opposite claim is the basis for this argument. There is no basis whatever under the Geneva Agreement for any claim that Vietnam is 2 countries. There is the strongest possible basis for a claim that it is one country, and that those who most strongly demanded that it must remain one country were members of the Government in Saigon. Then the de facto division came about as a result of American action. The Government in the South was set up by the American Government. What is now known as the Pentagon Papers shows on page 2 the following statement as a summary of those documents:

South Vietnam is essentially the creation of the United States.

That was the official conclusion which was drawn by officials of the United States Government and is reported on page 2 of the Pentagon Papers published by the New York Times'. Not only was South Vietnam the creation of the United States but it was built upon leaders and people from the North. The first Prime Minister, Diem, was a northerner as were most of his Government members. Thieu, the present Prime Minister, is a northerner; Ky is a northerner; most of the generals are northerners. Between 1954 and 1956 about 800,000 people were moved from the North to the South. Not only was this 10 times as large as any other movement of people from the north to the south, but also these people made up the basis of the army of South Vietnam. At all times since 1956 as much as 60 per cent of the combat units of the army of South Vietnam have been made up of northern people, and more of the leading units have been made up of people from North Vietnam. The army of South Vietnam, the army of Thieu, is critically and significantly an army of northerners. Yet honourable members opposite talk about 2 countries and about aggression from North Vietnam. Some 800,000 people were brought to the South to fight for the Americans.

The war in Vietnam is not a war between 2 countries. It is a civil war within one country only and those fighting on both sides are inextricably made up of men from the North and men' from the South. It was this civil war into which the American invasion came after 1961. The only invasion of Vietnam is an American invasion. In February 1965 the American forces began bombing North Vietnam. They did so because they claimed that there was aggression from the North, that there had been an invasion from the north. At that time 50,000 to 60,000 American troops had already entered South Vietnam and more were on ships and on bases in Thailand and were operating against the people in North Vietnam. Over 100,000 Americans were in and around Vietnam by February 1965 and engaged in' the attack on the people of North Vietnam. How many North Vietnamese regu'lar forces were then in South Vietnam? It was stated in 1966 by Senator Mansfield that at that time only 400 men of the armed' forces of North Vietnam were in South Vietnam, and that figure was certified as correct by the Secretary of the Army, Mr McNamara. That is the official. American total of regular North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam in 1965 - 4.00 - when 50,000 to 60,000 Americans were there. Hence when the American bombing attack began - it has extended over 4 years, using over 3 million tons of bombs and napalm, and involving the crossing of the demarcation line hundreds of times a day - there were 400 North Vietnamese in South Vietnam, according to official American estimates.

For how long does anyone expect that people in North Vietnam are to take bombing and every other form of attack without deriving a right to strike back? The right of self defence comes in at some point when a people is under attack. People have rights in war, and one of their rights is self defence. I believe that the regular forces of North Vietnam have now derived that right of self defence against the attack made upon them by the armed forces of the United States and by the armed forces of the Government in Saigon which was set up and controlled by the United States and acting at all times as a co-ordinated part of that attack. I believe that North Vietnam derived this right because Vietnam is one country. It has never been anything else but one country. What has happened is that a civil war has developed in a country and the United States has entered it on one side. Vietnam has been under foreign attack and domination for over 100 years - from the French, the Japanese, the Chinese and the Americans. How long do people have to sustain attack and occupation by foreigners before they get some rights? I believe that the people of North Vietnam have rights because this is basically a civil war into which a foreign power - the United States - has entered. Over 3 million tons of bombs and napalm has been dropped on North Vietnam by the United States Air Force. When do people derive the right to fight back? How much are they expected to take? The point beyond which human being* can be expected to take that kind of thing has, I suggest, long since passed in the case of North Vietnam.

Over the many years I have been in this Parliament I have had to decide questions. There are many things which I believe but which are not policy of the Australian Labor Party.They are my own beliefs and the ALP fs not responsible for them. But when I become convinced that a thing is true I will say it and I will accept the consequences. I am convinced that a vast injustice has been done to the people fighting with the forces of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam and what is called the provisional government of South

Vietnam - and, believing that, I will say it. I believe that American military action in Vietnam must be brought to an end and that the people of Vietnam must be allowed to determine their own future, whatever that may be. I believe that the continuation of military action in Vietnam by the American forces can do nothing but damage and devastate that country vastly in excess of any possible damage that could be done to it by any other alternative.

At this late hour I appeal to the men on the other side of the House to have a little sense of justice and see that, if people such as those in North Vietnam and South Vietnam have battled against the most tremendous odds which have ever been put against human beings, they have battled against those odds for some strong reason. I think it is time some sense of balance came into this matter. I think it is time the people who sit on the other side of this House and who are demanding a continuation of this kind of action - and they are almost isolated in this country - weighed the consequences and the effects upon the innocent people of Vietnam. Innocent people in that country are being killed every day. For 10 years the United States has tried every conceivable alternative to win this war. All efforts have failed. They have failed because the strength of the people of Vietnam is against America in that situation. The strength of the people in Vietnam is against America because the strength of the people in Vietnam recognises that the balance of justice is on the side against which America is fighting. That is why America has failed on every occasion. Please do not try any more. Give the people a chance in peace to see whether peace can produce a better result for them.

I detest hatred and I detest violence. I will fight violence and oppose violence in the streets of Melbourne and in Vietnam. I want that war to come to an end. Unless some recognition is made of the justice of the other side, it can never come to an end. I appeal to honourable members opposite - perhaps it is hopeless to do so - to recognise the element of justice that is on the side other than that they have been supporting, so that some kind of balance and some kind of peace can be restored to that war-racked country.







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