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Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1662

Mr UREN (Reid) - I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). It provides for a new section 3a which reads:

This Act ceases to be in force on the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-two.

We have moved this amendment because we want to end conscription. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) asked why we did not vote against the second reading of the Bill. What we did was common sense. This legislation reduces the period that a conscript spends in the armed services of Australia from 2 years to 18 months. We have said for years that we will support any progress towards the elimination of national service or, as we call it, conscription because we believe that conscription of any type is an evil act particularly in a time of peace. Therefore, even though we are completely opposed to conscription the period of service is to be reduced to 18 months. That is why we did not oppose the second reading.

We are moving these amendments in Committee so that those gallant men on the Government side who have conscripted young Australians to that bottomless pit of human suffering which is Vietnam and who were responsible for the deaths of 500 young men in thai country may have the opportunity to cross the floor and end this immoral act. That is what we are doing. Let us therefore stop this humbug of asking why we did not oppose the second reading. At least the Bill cuts 6 months off the period of service. It means 6 months less of this immoral conscription.

Mr Turnbull - Is that the reason?

Mr UREN - That is the reason why we did not vote against the second reading. I am asking Government supporters to come over and vote with us on this amendment that has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Freedom and democracy have been spoken of in this debate. We know the freedom and democracy that existed in South Vietnam where most of these young conscripts went, where 500 young men lost their lives and where 2,500 young men were maimed. We know the democracy of the gangsters, the military thugs, of South Vietnam. Honourable members opposite talk about freedom, democracy and the 'free world'. Let us drop this veil and face the question realistically. Honourable members opposite know about this so called fear hysteria. They know that it was the former Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton, who said that this country has no fear of invasion for at least 10 years.

But what do honourable members opposite want to do. They say: 'We have to build up this fear*. In 1966, when the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) was the Leader of the Opposition - he will recall this - the Government and its supporters were saying: Where do we draw the line? Do we draw it in Vietnam or do we fight them on our shores?' Of course, every honourable member knows the jingoistic propaganda which were pounded. Honourable members opposite rattled the cans. They even produced coloured pamphlets which portrayed red arrows coming down from China threatening Australia, and they created fear in the Australian people. They even went so far with their propaganda in the Liberal Party that the New South Wales Branch produced, as the honourable member for Mallee well knows, a poster depicting an Australian soldier, wearing a slouch hat, pulling a rickshaw over the Sydney Harbour bridge with a blonde Australian alongside an Asian. They had to build up this fear of racialism that may exist within the Australian community. This is the type of hysteria that this immoral Government indulges in, and then it talks about freedom and democracy.

The honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) is in many ways a gentle man. I do not know why he has not been able to look within his conscience, as d'd Senator Hannaford, and see the immoral act of the Government which he support1!. Surely he knows that in the United States honourable members from both sides have had the courage to say that their country's entry into Vietnam was an immoral and wrong act. In fact, 58 per cent of the American people said it was immoral for the United States ever to go into Vietnam. But why is it that not one member of the Conservative element of this Parliament can say: 'Look, we were wrong.'? The exception, of course, was Senator Hannaford. He resigned from the Liberal Party. We have to go into the State legislatures and come into this Parliament and let these men know of their guilt. The honourable member for Corangamite asked why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the inquiry by Mr Justice Kerr into Service pay rates. He mentioned it for this reason: We say that conscription was never necessary. It was not necessary in the Australian scene. In fact, the Gates Commission, which was created by President Nixon and which inquired into the need for conscription in the United States disclosed that there was no reason for national service, as honourable members opposite like to call it. The Opposition calls it conscription of the Australian forces. The Government went about this in haste, lt did not try to establish good wages and conditions for servicemen. This is why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the Justice Kerr inquiry.

If young men enlist in the Army, why should they not be entitled to war service homes? Why should they not receive housing loans? Of course, the loan should be greater than the present amount of $8,000 and the proposed $9,000. The Opposition believes it should be something like $15,000. After all, if one lives in New South Wales, and particularly in Sydney, the average cost of a block of land and a house is $19,000. If the Government implemented the proposals of the Australian Labor Party and provided suitable pay, conditions and amenities to members of the armed services, conscription would be unnecessary. This was revealed by the. Gates Commission in the United States. However, the Government decided to take the easy way out. It decided that it needed bodies.

There is an old cliche, 'Diggers for Dollars', and the Government had to take out what was called a cheap insurance policy. It thought that if it conscripted young men and sent them to Vietnam to stand by Australia's ally, the United States, and Australia was ever attacked, then the United States would come to our aid. I think that this was a pretty weak insurance policy. It has been completely discredited. This is why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition raised this question and it is why the Opposition proposes that the National Service Act should cease to be in force as from 1st January 1972. All the brave honourable members on the other side of the House will now have the opportunity to cross the floor and vote with the Opposition. By so doing they can help clear their consciences of the crimes that have been committed in Vietnam.

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