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Tuesday, 18 April 1972
Page: 1695

Mr HAMER (Isaacs) - Last week in this House the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) denied, that he wanted a communist victory in Vietnam. Last Sunday this cover was blown by his notorious friends in the Victorian State Council of the Australian Labor Party who called for a North Vietnamese victory. I do not believe that the honourable member for Lalor even with his one-eyed approach, thinks that the North Vietnamese are not communists, as some well-meaning people used to think that Mao was just an agrarian reformer. The North : Vietnamese are openly communists and a call for a North Vietnamese victory is a call for a communist victory.

Of course the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) denies that this statement by the Victorian State Council of the Australian Labor Party represents Labor policy. He seems to have an odd idea that he has had some influence on Labor policy, but the dominant left wing of the Labor Party will soon whip him into line as it did over the Harradine affair, as it did over the downgrading of the ANZUS Treaty, as it did over industrial sanctions and as it did over national service when he called on national servicemen who were posted to Vietnam to mutiny. It will whip him into line as it did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) when he went to Vietnam and reported truly that' it was an externally supported invasion, a statement which he has since had to retract. '

What the dominant left wing of the Labor Party clearly wants is a communist victory in South East Asia, and it wants to destroy the American alliance. Of course South Vietnam could have peace at any time - by surrendering, as the Leader of the Opposition would have South Vietnam do. Britain could have had peace in 1940 by surrendering to Hitler. That would have saved many lives in the short term, but it would have cost the world dearly in the long term. A country has a right to self defence. It is worth remembering that no country which has ever been firmly under communist rule has emerged from that communist rate into freedom, and the 800,000 refugees from North Vietnam who fled to South Vietnam rather than suffer under communist rule are a clear indication of this. As was pointed out last week by the honourable member for Lalor, they are naturally in the forefront of the fight to prevent South Vietnam being similarly taken over. The honourable member for Lalor made a sneering reference to the' statement that South Vietnam was essentially the creation of the United States. Well, of course it was. So was modern Western Europe essentially the creation of the United States after the War. Through the Marshal] Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, America, very generously, restored Western Europe to its present level of prosperity. This is something that we must never forget.

A lot of talk has been carried on by the Opposition suggesting that Vietnam is really one country, not 2 countries - North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In the postwar period difficulties over this situation of a divided country have occurred several times. It occurred in Korea. Would honourable members opposite suggest that when North Korea, supported by Russian arms, invaded South Korea we should not have gone to the assistance of the South Koreans as called for by the United Nations? There was no legal dividing line dividing Korea into 2 countries. Nevertheless, South Korea had the right of independence and freedom from Communism and we were right to go to her assistance and help her to remain free.

The logic of what the Opposition has been saying would cause an extraordinary situation in Europe. Germany is divided into 2 countries - East Germany and West Germany - split on the old occupation line of the Russian and Western forces. There is no official boundary between those 2 countries. If what the honourable member for Lalor contended is good enough in Vietnam, it should be good enough in Europe. We could see the East Germans supported by the arms and might of the Russians invading West Germany, but if we supported West Germany, if NATO supported West Germany and if America supported West Germany against this invasion it would no doubt be described by the honourable member for Lalor as an invasion of Germany by America and he would contend that Germany should be left to sort out its own destiny. What hogwash!

Anyone would admit that South Vietnam is not a perfect democracy. It has had a very difficult time since its creation. In the first few years after 1954 it showed signs of developing into a prosperous country. This was. before the Communist realised that they were not going to be. able to take it over by democratic means and they resorted to assassination, subversion and destruction. South Vietnam has had a very difficult time in the last 13 or 14 years, but it is to its credit that it has been able to carry out elections for presidents and elections for its Assembly, elections of a kind which Britain, a stable and long-established democracy, did not feel able to conduct during the 1940-45 War when Britain was under much less stress than Vietnam is now. If we can keep South Vietnam from falling under Communist domination there is a chance - a good chance - that it will emerge into a free and stable democracy. But if, on the other hand, it falls under Communist rule that hope will be gone.

If North Vietnam truly wanted peace the solution would be simple. It would withdraw its forces from South Vietnam, from Laos and from Cambodia. It would cease its rocket attacks, assassinations, ambushing and murdering in those countries. Then the bombing would stop and South Vietnam would have a chance to work out its own destiny in peace. If honourable members opposite truly want peace in South East Asia, this is the course they should be urging. Instead, they cheer on the Communists.

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