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Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1661

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - I have listened very carefully to the debate that has been taking place. The Opposition failed to call for a division on the second reading of the Bill. I thought that a division was going to take place, but members of the Opposition did not even sound their voices. They kept strangely quiet. 1 would like to ask honourable members opposite why they did not call for a division.

Mr Barnard - Because we are now moving an amendment. That ought to be obvious even to you.

Mr TURNBULL - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says it was because they proposed to move an amendment. Do not let us forget that they are always talking about some people going back into the past on different subjects in debate. But this is a question for the future that we are discussing now - that the Act shall cease to be in force on the 1st day of January 1972. The point is that this is a matter for the future - not for the past at all. At the time of the second reading speech it may have been something to do with the past. Honourable members of the Opposition came in and spoke and called Government supporters hypocrites and all sorts of things which were unparliamentary. But those remarks regarding the second reading are not applicable to the matter before the Committee which concerns the future.

It has been said in this chamber that the men who have been sent over to Vietnam are being brought back to Australia and they will be back here by 1st January next year. This will be done. But the whole point about this is: Does anyone think that some national service training is not in the best interests of the youth of this country?

Mr Scholes - How do you know what is best for them? .

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member should know. The honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) said that in the Second World War the men with the least education and the men who could hardly pass the aptitude test were often the best soldiers. How does he know? But I know because I had nearly 6 years with them. I know that you cannot split the Australian Imperial Forces according to educational standards. They were all out to fight for this country and to do the best job they could in the interests of this nation. It is no use the honourable member for Sydney trying to make out that a certain section was better than another based on educational qualifications were concerned. This is completely false, and I know it. I do not just think it. There is a lot of difference between what one thinks and what one knows. I know this because I was in close touch with many of the men in the campaigns. I say the honourable member's statement was completely wrong.

The matter we are discussing is something for the future. I believe that Australians generally will agree that a certain amount of military training will not hurt any young man. It builds him up. Many a person has said to me when their sons have been in the services that the training has made a man of them and that they came out a lot better men than when they went in. We are not talking about Vietnam at all. We are talking about something in the future. To hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) speaking in this debate one would think that we were talking about the Vietnam war. We are not doing anything of the kind. Honourable members should keep this on the right basis and know that we aim to continue to have national service in peace time. This is good.

Furthermore, the Opposition says that there is no danger to Australia and that some years ago someone said we had 10 years to prepare our defences. I made a speech in this House recently and pointed out that history has shown that the time when Neville Chamberlain said, after coming back from seeing Hitler: 'This means peace in our time'; war soon followed. Some people say: 'It cannot happen here'. That is as great a mistake as I have heard spoken in Parliament or out of it. It can happen here.

I have heard about the fortress Australia policy: Wait- till they get on the beaches and fight them there. Any man who has been in such places as Europe, and Malaya and who has seen what happens when war comes into a country will not want it to come into this country. Therefore we have been fighting most of our battles overseas. When our men have gone overseas they have never gone on a quest in search of gain nor to invade weaker nations in lawless rage of conquest. They have gone overseas to uphold the principles of democracy and freedom.

Mr Birrell - What are they?

Mr TURNBULL - I know- and the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) knows - that democracy and especially freedom are the greatest things that man can achieve. The honourable member has had the same experience as I have had in being deprived of freedom. 1 give him some credit. He is in a position now to feel that certain young men in gaol should have their freedom. No doubt this is something that goes back to the time when he did not have his freedom. British people stand for these principles. When our flag flutters in the breeze wc know that no man can can stand beneath its folds without becoming and remaining free. When I hear talk about having no national service in the future T am absolutely sickened. We are not talking about Vietnam. We are talking about the years to come, and we must be prepared.

This nation is supposed to be tremendously prosperous. People know that I have said that our cities are prosperous but not the country areas. Everybody must know that there is a boom in the cities where most of the young .men seem to have congregated in a conglomeration of population. The great prosperity is in the cities. Surely people know that great empires of the past, the Roman Empire and Greek Empire, did not fall because conditions were bad and the people were desperate. They fell because the luxury that they were enjoying made them forget the things that build men and nations. I hope I have made it clear that I am opposed to the amendment because, after all. it means nothing. We must prepare for the future. We must continue national service. It is not a matter of Vietnam; it is a matter of Australia, of building up Australia's defence and keeping it at a certain level and standard of preparedness.

If a young man has had 18 months military training he can help to defend his country. Everybody should know, unless he is completely ignorant of army tactics, that even 10 years afterwards if a man has had 18 months military training it stands him in good stead. He can, if required, be produced for a war. He may volunteer and he can be trained much more quickly than someone who has never had any training at all. But the Labor Party wants to wipe out all training for young men. That is the way to get them slaughtered. If an enemy came to this country and the young men had had no training whatever they would be slaughtered. Anybody who knows anything about the Army knows that. The honourable member for Reid knows that. He knows what happens to men in armies who are not trained. The trained forces win every time. So let us have a little bit of reason in this debate tonight and realise that we are not looking into the past but to the future of the great Australian nation. I do not think for one moment that any member of the Opposition does not want to see Australia prosperous. I am certain that no member of the Opposition wants to see enemy forces in this country. I am also certain that they do not want war. I do not want war, but what is the alternative if an enemy comes along? It is to fall at the feet of an invader, to become slaves of a foreign power. Everybody should know these things. Therefore I say that anybody who puts up a proposition which will mean the discontinuance of this training is right out of tune with things in this country and its future and I am convinced that he is out of. touch with what the population of this great nation requires.

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