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Tuesday, 28 September 1971
Page: 1583


Mr SPEAKER -Order! 1 heard the word liar' used by the honourable member for Kennedy as I came in to assume my duties in the Chair. 1 do not know exactly in what context it was being used, but if it was used in respect of another honourable member of this House it would be extremely out of order.


Mr KATTER - It quite definitely was not used in that context. I want to reiterate that whoever gave that information to the honourable member for Capricornia is a damned liar. I think most honourable members from country areas would have had the same experience that I have had, that is, from time to time they receive representations in regard to someone who is employed on the land and are asked to approach the Minister for Labour and National Service about the possibility of his call-up being deferred or some such concession being granted. To my knowledge, on no occasion has this concession ever been granted. Any such request has been turned down flatly. This has been my experience and, I am sure, the experience of many honourable members. 1 think all people pf all the countries of the world would most earnestly hope that peace would exist for all time in their own country and in other countries. But any country with any sense of national security and any sense of responsibility, while hoping for peace, would most assuredly prepare for war. I regard almost the entire context of those amendments to be such that they would take the sting out of any preparations that we may make for any emergency which may occur in this part of the world.


Mr Barnard - You have not read them all.


Mr KATTER - I have read them in detail. It is interesting to note that there has been a constant barrage of propaganda to dissipate any stand that we may take on Communist intrusion into these areas. It has become most unpopular even to use that word. In 1964 Mr Khrushchev was asked whether the bitterness that existed between his country and- Peking was due to the fact that, he feared an invasion of Russia. His reply - and this can be checked and I have said it time and again in this House - was no. He said that if there -was a population explosion it would take place into Australia and not into South Vietnam or anywhere else. When the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) visited the area and saw what was happening in Laos he wired back with absolute honesty and no doubt with a feeling of great urgency that there was indeed a Communist intrusion into that area. Would anyone be stupid enough to think that when we do move out of that area the countries will not be completely overrun and utterly Communist dominated? Of course they will. What then? Let us just hope that Indonesia maintains its present loyalties and its present allegiances.

The proposal in the Bill is that the period of national service be reduced from 2 years to 18 months, l.do not know that this could not be further reduced. I have often thought that a period of 12 months would probably be quite sufficient. However, the substance of the Bill indicates that we will continue with national service. I do not know what the attitude of the Opposition is towards the security of this country. I do not know whether members of the Opposition have paid any honest and responsible attention to the lessons of history. I do not know whether they have read just one comment made by Lord Birkenhead in 1928 when he told the British Cabinet: 'We have 10 years to prepare for war'. Because of that statement the British dropped their aggressiveness and their preparedness. And what happened? We had the Battle of Britain in which a handful of men went up and were shot out of the sky. We saw a war prolonged and thousands of lives lost that would not have been lost had there been sufficient preparedness. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and myself are a little more aware than most people of this need for preparedness because we represent areas that are wide open to invasion or to any sort of aggression that may come from the north, the northeast or the northwest.

No-one could suggest that even with tb ultimate in preparedness, even if we were to call up everyone possible into each of the Services, we would have reached a stage of preparedness that would be terribly effective against an aggressor. What about our obligations to and our ties with a country such as the United States, which is constantly criticised and berated by honourable members opposite?- I have never yet heard them get up and pay the United States any credit whatsoever. All they do is gloat and crow because the people of America have tired of the Vietnam commitment. It is all very well to talk of the people of the United States tiring of the war in Vietnam. After all, they are many, many thousands of miles away. They are not on the fringe of this area as we are. They are not the only European country in this great area of Asiatic countries! But even though the American people do not face the same situation as we do it would be pretty well fatal for us to sever our ties with and our dependence on this country.

We have heard the slogan 'All the way with LET. Honourable members opposite spurned ali that. I would ask them to suggest who, if an emergency did occur - lel us look at the thing realistically - will come to our aid? Would Soviet Russia or Peking? Did the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) come to an arrangement that Chou En-lai will come down and defend us if someone is threatening this country? I am utterly amazed that never at any time have honourable members opposite offered one word of criticism of the Vietcong or the absolute brutality that was perpetrated by those people. We have never heard one whisper about it. Their big objective is to have us reduce our effective defence It is all very well to say that we do not want to call up our young people. Of course we do not. If the system of voluntary service in the armed forces was effective we would not need conscription. It is interesting to ponder the reasons why our young people are not volunteering. There has been an infiltration of ideology and attitude into the western world which has caused many people no longer to think in terms of the defence of their country and of patriotism. ft is interesting to note that at least 2 speakers on the opposite side of the House commented that Britain and Canada do not have a system of compulsory military training. As has been pointed out by the honourable member . for Maranoa, there is not the same demand for such training in those countries. But there is another reason, and that is that the vitality of the western world is being dissipated. The destruction of patriotism as we once knew it has led to a lack of awareness in our young people of the need for defence. The new generation has not had a chance to understand what is demanded of it and the responsibilities it must assume if it is to defend the way of life it considers to be right and acceptable. This is not surprising when we see the alternative Prime Minister outside this Parliament addressing a public gathering under 2 Vietcong flags. He has not done this on only one occasion. I was in . the United States on the last occasion when this happened but J -read all about it. .


Mr Cope - I take a point of order. I consider that remark to be a reflection on the Leader of the Opposition. As was pointed out in this House by the Leader of the Opposition, no such thing occurred but there was a falsification of a photograph.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition explained this matter to the House. There seemed in my mind at that time some doubt as to the authenticity of some photographs. I suggest that the honourable member withdraw the remark.


Mr KATTER - May I refer to a previous occasion when I myself saw the Leader of the Opposition talking outside this Parliament under a Vietcong flag?


Mr Barnard - I rise to a point of order. 1 want this statement, which is a reflection on the Leader of the Opposition, to be withdrawn categorically. If the honourable member does not withdraw it I will ask that he be dealt with.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable member for Kennedy to withdraw the first statement he made.


Mr KATTER - I will withdraw that comment, Mr Speaker, as requested by you. I reiterate that rather than the concept of patriotism being encouraged our young people are being led to believe that the defence of the country is no longer of any great importance. Australian soldiers in the past have earned the admiration of the world. All over the world the Australian soldier is held in the highest regard not only for his fighting prowess but for the fact that everywhere he goes he is regarded as a good fellow. Again I refer to the attempts by the Opposition to besmirch and destroy that reputation. Remember the occasion when it sanctimoniously defended a spy. who had been responsible for either the death or mutilation of 28 Australians, because it had been alleged that someone had poured a glass of water down her throat. There were other suggestions of what might have been done to her and they were not all related to execution.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Do you believe in water torture?


Mr KATTER -] am loyal to the Australian troops; I am not loyal to a spy for the Vietcong. If this woman was a spy. under the ordinary normal conditions of warfare she would have been executed. I wonder what the Vietcong would have done if an Australian girl had been caught spying on their troops? This is interesting to contemplate. There is not very much more I want to say except that I most sincerely hope that this Government respects the trust that has been placed in it. I represent a great industrial electorate, and as I move around the country I come in contact with the ordinary rank and file continuously. They commend this Government and they are proud of the attitudes we have adopted. I would say that the great betrayal by this side of the House would be if we succumbed one iota to any pressures to drop any action which would contribute to the defence of this country. If that happened we would be on the way out. The people of Australia want their defence to be watched, and if it means a system of national service we must have it

The honourable member for Burke suggests that only the sons of workers went to war. Admittedly some of the greatest heroes who have defended this country came from the working class ranks. I would suggest that if honourable members opposite want to make sweeping statements that no-one from the other side of the fence ever gave distinguished service for their country they should visit the Australian War Memorial and have a look at the photographs of 2 Victoria Cross winners, men who were idolised by the rank and file of inland Queensland and men who I am proud to say - one of them is now dead - came from the electorate of Kennedy. One is Major Tanner and the other is Colonel Murray or 'Mad Murray' as he was affectionately called. Both those men were sheep breeders. They were graziers. We have to be fair about this.

One of the great things about national service is that it produces fine men. I have seen evidence of this time and time again. I am sure that honourable members on both sides of the House, if they were honest about this, would confirm this view. National service brings all classes of people together. It breaks the class barrier that some people would solemnly wish to create, pitting Australian against Australian. The barriers come down and all people are equals when they go into the Army. It is a remarkable thing. If national service had nothing to do with defence but was purely a system of training it would pay handsomely. I have seen young men go away from my own home town of Cloncurry - young men who have been drifting along out of work and who looked as though they had a pretty poor future - and come back as proud young men, straight as a die, with this wonderful training behind them. Even if national service achieves nothing else it gets these young men off the streets and gives them a chance in life that they would not otherwise have. I support this Bill most strongly. I again say that if this Government were to abandon one iota of the firm stand it has taken in regard to the defence of Australia it would deserve to go put of office.







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