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Tuesday, 19 February 1980
Page: 59


Mr KEVIN CAIRNS (Lilley) -When General Tojo was in the box at the Far East Military Crimes Tribunal in December 1 947 he was asked a simple question: 'Why did you go to war?' Through his interpreter he said that the Japanese went to war because 'the elasticity in our national power was on the point of extinction'. The reason for it being on the point of extinction was that Japan progressively had been denied oil over the previous years. If, in General Tojo's own words, oil was the cause of the conflict in the Pacific from 1941 to 1945, could anyone doubt that the Russian accession of Afghanistan has within it the same capacity to generate conflict and worry for the world? The theme of the Opposition has been either to play down that proposition or to ignore it totally.


Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - Except that they do have major oil reserves which the Japanese did not.


Mr KEVIN CAIRNS - The Japanese did not have significant oil reserves, just as a lot of the Western world does not have oil reserves. The honourable member for Lalor has misunderstood the point. We say that this matter is an extremely important point. The Opposition has said continually this afternoon and this evening that it is of relatively little significance. It is a reasonable proposition to go through what the Opposition, as an alternative government, has said and to ask whether it has a consistent theme in what it has said in terms of policy. I will go through some of the remarks because they are fascinating. It took four days for the Opposition, through the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt), to respond. Previously the Opposition had been responding ahead of time on every issue. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate was not a crack marksman or a quick draw agent in responding because it took him four days to respond. A few days later, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) saidand this is a dreadful statement- that it was as immoral for the Russians to be in Afghanistan as it was for the Australians and the Americans to be in South Vietnam. I hope that he repeats that statement to lots of Australian soldiers who fought very honourably in South Vietnam. It is a dreadful statement. Unfortunately it is very like the excuse Evatt gave over Russia 's invasion of Hungary in 1956 and not unlike the statements made by the then Leader of the Opposition concerning Russia in Czechoslovakia in 1 968- a half excuse for the Russian action; always going back to supposed faults of Western countries.

I turn now to the remarks of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) who is a man of considerable ability; indeed, he probably has the most ability of those on the Opposition front bench. He said: 'It is 15,000 kilometres away. What does it matter to us? These countries don't matter. They are of no significance to Australia. Where is Afghanistan? Where is Pakistan?' The Opposition, having learnt that lesson, began to say: 'We now abhor Russia's invasion of Afghanistan. We now find it detestable'. Then the friend of the Opposition, Mr, Hawke, had to say that what was happening in Afghanistan was of great strategic importance to the world. Here we have a variety of attitudes and worries. Whether this situation be 15,000 miles away or a mile away, the Opposition did not know what was going on. Then the Leader of the Opposition said to himself: 'Look, I'm worried about this. I will turn to my Manager of Opposition Business, the honourable member for Port Adelaide, Mr Michael Young. I will ask him what he thinks'. So the Leader of the Opposition said: 'Michael, what do you think about this Afghanistan?' The honourable member for Port Adelaide said: 'Afghanistan? Where is it? I know, there is a train with that name which runs up from Adelaide to Alice Springs. It takes two days. It runs at an average of 15.3 miles an hour'. So the honourable member for Port Adelaide has been sent down to bone up on his geography and perhaps to act as a better adviser. In a sense, the Opposition has attempted to be Macnamara 's band on this matter. A few members of the Opposition have tried to play all the instruments. They have little sense of history and, as the honourable member for Port Adelaide would know, less sense of geography.

Let us look at the history of this matter. To say that the Russian interest in the PersianAfghanistan region is new is a piece of nonsense. Let us look at Russia's activities in the area over the last 1 5 decades. On four occasions Russia has attempted to expand in that part of Asia. It did so in the late 1830s and in 1885. Even Gladstone, whom I would describe in many ways as a Christian pacifist, had to reverse a policy and allocate £ 1 lm for defence expenditure to deter the Russians. One of the first countries to which Lenin appointed an ambassador was Afghanistan. He had made promises to the nations in southern Asia and he immediately began to break them. I mention these four items of history because they are important. In the period immediately after World War II, Ernest Bevin, a very great Foreign Minister who was liked by King George VI and respected by the world, had this to say in the House of Commons in 1946-47 when the Russians showed reluctance to get out of Iran in contrast to the Americans and the British:

We would regret any settlement extracted from the Iranian Government while under duress and with Soviet troops still in the country . . .

There are four examples of history, each of which has involved expansionism, calculated expansionism, on the part of Russia, and we merely say to this Parliament and to the country: Please do not ignore what has happened over the previous 15 decades because those events are important. I hope it will be remembered that in those days there was not the added attraction of that area being the oil centre of the world. These days there is that added attraction. For the Opposition to come into this place and state over and over again that what is happening in Afghanistan is of no significance, that it does not matter, that it is of no importance, is to show the kind of understanding of history that the honourable member for Port Adelaide has of geography.

Let me turn now to the Moscow Olympic Games. There is nothing to apologise for in respect of the Olympic Games. I take honourable members back to the Nazi Olympics because they are important. I hope that the Opposition and the rest of the country will remember the fact that in 1 935 the American Athletic Union and its various branches were very concerned at what was happening in Germany. There was a giant movement, supported by State governments and churches, to impose an effective boycott of the Olympic Games. A meeting was held on 8 December 1935 and by a majority of only two and a half votes- they were weighted- it was decided to go to the Olympic Games. They said that they would go to the Olympic Games but their action was 'not to be construed to imply endorsement of a Nazi Government'. Those who have proposed going to the Moscow Games want to try to put in the same caveat. Good luck to them! Hitler won the propaganda victory of those Games inside his own country. It reinforced his authority. It gave him confidence, between the winter and sun ner Olympics, to go into the Rhineland. These are facts of history. Do honourable members opposite think there is more capacity to get a story over concerning the Moscow Games in Russia than there was concerning the Berlin Games in Germany? Germany was a far more open country than Russia is now. Germany had had only three years experience of a totalitarian regime. Russia has had 60 years experience of a totalitarian regime. Yet members of the Opposition would come into this place and say: 'Ignore those facts of history and ignore the mistakes we have made in our foreign policy statements during January and February. Go and just trust to luck'.

I will recite a little incident which is important. At those Berlin Games were delegations from all of the countries, including the original countries, of which Australia was one and Greece another. One of the great fathers of the Olympic Games was the little Greek athlete, Spiridou Loues, who won the marathon in 1896 and whose fame runs through the history of the Games. He had been in the sun so much that he looked like a dried prune. As the Games went on he broke out from the Greek delegation and, on behalf of all of the countries there, went to Hitler and presented a sprig of olive from Mount Olympus, the site of the ancient Games. Talk about peace! Spiridou Loues had this to say:

I present to you this olive branch as a symbol of love and peace. We hope that the nations will ever meet solely in peaceful competition.

Hitler was clearly moved by this expression. Within a few years that gentleman's homeland was taken over by Hitler, was invaded by the Third Reich. I only ask that the Opposition observe some of those simple and direct lessons of history.


Mr Howe - You couldn't understand them -


Mr KEVIN CAIRNS -It is a little difficult to respond to interjections during a 15-minute speech- it is not long.


Mr Young - Why don't you talk about Stalingrad? They saw a little of Hitler, too.


Mr KEVIN CAIRNS - The honourable member's understanding of the strategy involved would have Hitler regarding the defence of Stalingrad as a great military victory. It is perfectly clear that the Games in Berlin gave him a propaganda weapon which was utilised successfully. It gave the country confidence to do what it should not have done. It gave the country confidence to wreak the havoc that it did. During those Games- again, it was a far more open country than is Russia today- it was clear that Jewish pogroms had been suspended for that period. People went there and said that everything was all right. Little was done during 1937, while a vestige of goodwill remained, yet ultimately these other events followed. We merely say to the Opposition and to this country: Know what has gone on before and do not ignore history in this respect.

Walther Funk, the Assistant Secretary of State for Propaganda in Nazi Germany at the time, had this to say- and it would be even more applicable to Moscow:

Under direction of the Propaganda Ministry there has never before been developed a propaganda campaign equal to that for the Olympic Games.

The world participated. The United States participated under pressure. It came close to not participating. Russia stayed away, as she had stayed away from other games. She knew that they would be used for propaganda. We merely say: Let us use some of the same objective and sensible judgments in this case.

There is an old Afghan proverb which says: When the waters are over your head depth does not matter'. During January and February the Opposition has made it clear that it neither wants

Australia's economic position to be compared with that of the rest of the world nor Australia's foreign affairs position to be determined in terms of reality in respect of the rest of the world. We say that when one is in water of that depth, whether one is in a submarine or a bathyscope, one is in no position to try to make a rational foreign policy, and the Opposition ought to cease trying to do so.







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