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Thursday, 11 November 1971
Page: 3342

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - I desire to enter this debate at this late stage, once again being prompted to get to my feet because of certain allegations made on the other side of the House about the attitude generally of the Opposition as a party compared with the policy of the Liberal and Country Parties' frightful coalition over the past 20-odd years. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) in his contibution to the debate once again praised the great white god, the United States of America, and spoke about the United States being our saviour and how none other than the United States had saved this country during the Second World War. These accusations are that we on this side of the House are somewhat more than subversive because of our actions during the conflict and our attitude now. The adulation by the honourable member for La Trobe of the United States and what it may stand for in world events today and his adulation of what it did in the south west and central Pacific during the last war is such that I must reply by saying that he does not even pay due regard to the efforts of his own countrymen. I remind him that the first time the Japanese were ever defeated, the first time they were ever deprived of a footing anywhere in the south west Pacific, or anywhere in the Pacific for that matter, was at a place called Milne Bay and they were repelled by Australian forces; not one American was near the place. The same could be said about the Owen Stanley Ranges.

So let us get away from living in the past, in the grand days of the Coral Sea battles and from their commemoration and pay due regard to what the forces of this country were able to do. While on that point, I might also add that this great boasting about what America did during the conflict in the south west Pacific area fails to pay regard to the British soldier and to the Chinese who kept millions of Japanese forces employed so that these forces could not be deployed to this region or to the islands to our north during the Second World War. Let us end this adulation of America. And let me say to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) that the manner in which he carried on in the United States a few weeks ago was absolutely sickening. He should have felt absolutely ashamed for having attacked his own country whilst he was in America as though doing so would make him feel 10 feet tall. His actions were nothing less than absolutely shocking and his ducking and shoving in front of television cameras and the media when he came back was just as bad. He could not defend his actions in any shape or form and we do not want the likes of the Minister in this country-

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock - Order! I have reminded the honourable member for Sturt on a number of occasions that he should address the Chair. Also, I would suggest that the honourable member restrain himself.

Mr FOSTER - lt is all right for the media to say something; that is acceptable in this place. Questions can be asked as a result of what appears in the media. Mr Chairman, if a member of this side of the Committee stands up and wishes to put his own point of view on the manner in which a member of the Ministry carried on overseas, he is subjected at all times to some form of ruling from the Chair. I say that I have not been unparliamentary. The Minister's grovelling attitude from a national point of view was somewhat shameful. For a Minister to go overseas and to refer to his own country as being insignificant and to refer to his own colleagues in the manner in which he did is, as I said before, absolutely disgraceful. I can find no other word to describe his behaviour.

Why should I be hypocritical and pad my remarks with some parliamentary phrase or term which would be acceptable to yourself? I do not expect you to accept what I say if what I say in this Committee is unparliamentary. But surely I am not being unparliamentary when I stand here to tell the truth as I see it. I was not the only one who made the observations that I have just made. I am not the only one in this Committee who has done so because similar observations were made by the Minister's parliamentary colleagues.

Now the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is overseas, and the spectacle has become worse. Wherever he has gone he has brought this country into absolute ridicule in the field of foreign affairs. We have had this same grovelling attitude on his part as though Americans are the only people who populate the earth and if we in Australia do not bow to every whim and wish and if we do not abdicate in favour of the United States all of our national responsibilities which the people elected us to perform, we must be considered to be traitors with respect to the grand and great alliance with the United States. What a lot of absolute rubbish! What brought America into the last World War? It was the bombing of its own territory. Did she give a damn about what happened elsewhere? Somebody said this afternoon that no warning was given of Japan's intentions. What absolute rubbish! French Indo-China was taken by the Japanese months before-

Mr Duthie - John Curtin warned Australia.

Mr FOSTER - Yes. We were warned in 1938 by John Curtin. The interjector is quite correct. The bombing of its own territory brought America into World War II. The war was brought to America's doorstep. It did not give a darn about Britain being alone in 1940. America was worried about ils own interests. Its own interests at that time could be protected only by going into the South West Pacific area. Where el;.e. I ask honourable members, could America have gone? So there is no necessity for this grovelling attitude that has been adopted for so many years with respect to America by honourable members opposite.

Le: me say this: The old concept of foreign affairs based on defence, as it used to be, has gone forever. Asiatics today are making decisions on behalf of Asian countries. In the days in which the Government's present thinking originated - its thinking has not changed - this never occurred. Britain was doing all the thinking for many of the Asian countries, was it not? Britain is not doing that today. It is time that that simple basic fact was grasped by the Government. It should have grasped that fact years ago. The great American influence with its charitable type of outlook does not exist in China today as it did before the outbreak of the second World War. This type of thinking is not found today, even in Europe, as it used to be found years ago. The Government must realise that today the Asians are able to do their own thinking.

What bold stand has Australia taken in the last few weeks in the field of foreign affairs on the question of India and Pakistan? I am not talking about the great human problem associated with the refugees there. Where has there been a positive stand by the Government whose members say that they believe in the free concept of the western world, if I may describe that belief in that way? What has the Government done? It is making exactly the same mistakes in 1971 as one of its former Prime Ministers made with regard to the Middle East situation some years ago. He went to Egypt on his Suez Canal exercise and was kicked out of the place. The attitude that was adopted with regard to the Aswan Dam project led to Egypt turning to the Eastern bloc countries to which it is allied today. I agree with honourable members that this area is one of the trouble spots of the world.

Yet honourable members opposite and Ministers who sit at the table here have failed to grasp the tremendous problem India faces and the prospect of serious conflict between India and Pakistan at any time. The threat to world peace of conflict between India and Pakistan is like a timebomb which could explode tomorrow. Once again the Government has been inactive. It has been grovelling to America which is supplying arms to one of the countries concerned. Through its inactivity the Government has proved itself incapable of grasping the initiative. It should have sent someone to India to give some advice, but without interfering in the way in which this Government has interfered in the affars of other Asian countries.

The fact that the Australian Government has been inactive in this matter and has not been prepared to do anything means that it will be damn well guilty of driving the Prime Minister of India once again to the Eastern bloc countries. The Government will be crying about this situation in a few months time or in a few years time followng political changes which may occur in India. India may be in the Eastern bloc camp. The Government will moan about that, but it will not accept responsibility for it. Part of the responsiblity for that happenng must rest with the Government. For goodness sake, stop playing petty 18th century type politics with respect to foreign affairs. The Government should get down to a proper basis of what ought to be the appropriate, correct and proper understanding of international relations for the good of mankind, not for the good of the few, or to prop up a government which is not worth propping up as the Government has been doing in the

South East Asian area. That is the line of thought that the Government ought to follow. It ought not to think in gunboat diplomacy terms and say that it is justified in doing what it is doing because a couple of ships are in the Indian Ocean-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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