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Thursday, 11 November 1971
Page: 3329

Mr COPE (Sydney) - I was very surprised indeed to hear the remarks of the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) in relation to the part that the Opposition played at the outbreak of World War II. I think that these remarks should be answered fully. If one studies the history of Australia's attitude in World War II one will readily see that the LiberalCountry Party Government was sacked because of its inability to carry on the war effort.

Mr Turnbull - It was not sacked.

Mr COPE - It was sacked by 2 Independent members for not carrying on its duties. In addition the Government left us with no arms at all. It left us with Wirraway fighting planes which were up against the modern Japanese Zero planes. The young people were butchered in New Guinea and other places. It was John Curtin who brought Australia on to a full war footing after the mismanagement and bad treatment by his predecessor, Sir Arthur Fadden, and before him, Bob Menzies. One can readily see that people are very thankful we had the Labor Party leader, John Curtin, to manage Australia's affairs. Talking about the way we were armed at the time reminds me of an incident that occurred when there were no rifles in Australia to go around and the soldiers received wooden rifles. A sentry was on duty one night at one of the camps. He had a wooden rifle. When somebody approached in the middle of the night the chap on sentry duty said: Halt! Who goes there?' He received no reply. He said again: 'Halt! Who goes there?' Again he received no reply. So he said: 'Halt, or I will fill you full of white ants'. This was exactly the position in World War II.

One can readily see that the LiberalCountry Party Government left Australia undefended. The people of Australia looked to John Curtin, and they put him into office in 1943 with a record majority. The honourable member for North Sydney said that the Labor Party was not willing to do its share. His speech can be put aside.

I should like to comment upon a statement reported to have been made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) overseas when he was looking for support for India against Pakistan by putting pressure on Pakistan. My personal sympathies are definitely with India, but I think that diplomatically it was the most stupid statement that I have heard from any leader of any country. The Prime Minister should not have entered into this field and should not have taken one side or the other. World leaders such as President Nixon and Mr Heath will not take sides in this dispute and will not make any statements in regard to it. Yet we find our Prime Minister making statements and asking people to take sides and to put pressure on Pakistan. I wish it could be done, but it can be done only through the United Nations Organisation and with the support of every nation. One Prime Minister cannot get up and say that this should be done. We all know that this is a very delicate situation.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What you say is not correct.

Mr COPE - It was reported in the Press. Why did you not take it up in the Press if it was not true? You can always make a statement denying it. It was in the Press, as you well know. Why do you not get up and enlighten the Australian people if you say that what was in the Press was not true?

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What he has done is express our friendliness to both countries.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett)- Order! I ask the honourable member for Sydney to address his remarks to the Chair.

Mr COPE - In regard to Pakistan, 1 think that the speech made last night by the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) was one of the best I have ever heard in the House in regard to an appeal for Pakistan-

Mr Kennedy - What about the honourable member for Mallee? He is very good.

Mr COPE - He speaks only about dried fruits. I was referring to the speech made by the honourable member for Hawker. I think the Government should take heed of his speech. Everybody is aware of the terrible situation which exists in East Pakistan today, caused by the friction between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. One can sec millions of refugees there. I think that the amount of $54m in aid that Australia has given is too paltry to mention. It should be at least SI Om, as the Opposition has been advocating for some time. I was not listed to speak and I rose in this debate only to answer the remarks on this matter made by the honourable member for North Sydney.

Mr GRAHAM(North Sydney)- Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! Does the honourable member for North Sydney claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr GRAHAM - I do. My friend the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) has misrepresented me. I made it clear that I was referring to Labor's speeches from September 1938 to June 1941, 5 months before World War II in the Pacific started, and I am perfectly right. One can read Hansard. It is demonstrably true that the Labor Party was opposed to rearmament. Even after Dunkirk, the honourable member said-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member may not debate the matter.

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