Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 2 May 1973
Page: 1622

Mr GILES (Angas) - Mr Speaker,I am glad to have the opportunity tonight to speak after my friend the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). Unlike the honourable member for Hunter, I do not know whether emotionalism is a cover up for lack of logic or what is wrong with the honourable member for Hunter tonight. All I know is that honourable members opposite cannot talk about confidence tricks to honourable members on this side of the House. ( have not been caught with my head in a vice. I have not been caught in protection rackets. 1 do not suggest as a Minister has suggested that Aborigines should be sterilised. I was with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) on a delegation to Cambodia. I was with him at the time he sent a telegram to the Government of the time saying that the people in Cambodia were being subjected to a vile invasion by the people of a non-ethnic group - a separate race. I was there when the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs sent that telegram and he was completely right in sending it. Honourable members opposite have no right to accuse us on this side of the House of double dealing because nearly every statement that the new Government has made in the last 6 months can be put in the same category. Where is the $500m for rural loans at 3 per cent about which the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) howled through the countryside trying to delude sincere people that this was the treatment they would get? Quite part from the honourable member for Hunter, in the case of almost every Minister we can find without too much search this sort of double talk. The Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) is sitting in the House. We have heard about his Department threatening - as the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) has just said - not to deliver mail to Opposition senators for purely political reasons and nothing else.

Mr Katter - He would take away the telephone services from the farms.

Mr GILES - He has threatened to acquire farms rather than to connect telephone services for primary producers. I do not know why they should be discriminated against but that is a debate for another time. I want to come back to the Vietnam proposition as briefly as 1 can. I have been to Vietnam as often as I could. A lot of the time it was paid for out of my own pocket but once it was paid for out of the Government's pocket when I went as a member of a delegation. I can tell the honourable member for Hunter that a lot of the remarks that he made tonight are just not true. I will demonstrate my point.

Mr James - The honourable member should listen-

Mr GILES - The honourable member has had his go. Now let me have a go. T remember going to Vietnam some time ago when the Press of Australia was full of the story that incendiary bombs were being flung around at random in the countryside and on towns and causing dreadful burns to women and children. I tracked this matter through 5 hospitals, not as a member of this Parliament but in the company of a Chinese man who was living in the area and who was able to gain access to these hospitals. In every case when 1 went into those hospitals the story was the same. The story was that there were drums of fuel lying around the place on new airfields. The people were suddenly faced at the village level with a new fuel and they were not trained to protect themselves.

Mr Sherry - Ha, ha!

Mr GILES - The honourable member can laugh with his supercilious Australian Broadcasting Commission voice. Wherever I went I found the same situation. The honourable member for Boothby was with me at the time. Wherever I saw local doctors and whenever I went into the hospitals I found that the typical remarks with which the Press of Australia were damning us by implication - and with which they were certainly damning the Americans - were just a figment of their imagination. There was nothing in them. There were suggestions of torture and such things. The tortures in South Vietnam were at the standard of the South Vietnamese but they were a miserable imitation of the standard of torture applied by the people with whom honourable members opposite dined tonight. I think it is a shame and a shocking thing for honourable members to be prepared to sit in this place as members of this Parliament and to make contact and talk with people who have been the enemies of people from their electorates who have probably lost their lives or who have been injured. Such honourable members have absolutely no pride in their own country and they have no right to stand in this place as a member of this Parliament and refuse to stick up for the people who served their country. There is something lacking in members of Parliament who do not understand a liking of and a loyalty to their own nation. I do not begin to understand this.

Let me come back to the business in Cambodia because I think this is one area in which this Parliament has been negligent. However, let us be honest enough to say that over the last 6 months no longer do we on this side represent the Government. The Cambodian people have been let down by the likes of honourable members opposite. If ever there was a clear historical case - even clearer than the North Vietnam issue - that there was an invasion it is the one which concerns the people of Cambodia. They are Khmers. They are peace loving. They are not used to having soldiers around. They are not used to firing guns.

Mr Birrell - Even the women are involved and the honourable member knows it.

Mr GILES - 1 feel sorry for the. honourable member for Port Adelaide who is so lacking in a knowledge of the situation that obtains in Cambodia.

Mr Birrell - The honourable member has not been there. I have been there.

Mr GILES - On the contrary, I have been there at least half a dozen times times and 1 have not seen the honourable member there yet, but that is beside the point. The point at issue is whether a separate ethnic group - in this case the Khmer people - should be subjected to violent military attack by a group of people who are not of the same race. In this case in its original context there can b: absolutely no question that this country and this race were invaded. There can be no claim that it was a civil war in the early stages. What has this Parliament done? I am now condemning not only this Government but honourable members on this side, too. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I sought on the same platform at the Salisbury Teachers' College in South Australia a resolution condemning naked aggression and hoping that the Government of the time would give some substantial help to enable this race of people to remain an ethnic group with their own ethos and using their own capacities in the area in which they have lived for centuries. That was done by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and myself. I believe it was put over television throughout the nation because it was a somewhat unique event. I suppose I must accept the blame as well as the Government. This country and this Parliament have done nothing to stick up for the Kmer people in Cambodia. I do not suggest that we have to send troops tomorrow, but I think that in the high places where the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) now treads and to which this Government now has access, the voice of Australia should be raised for a small nation. These people deserve their chance to exist as a race in Cambodia. 1 may further demonstrate that point by relating a touching circumstance when students and academics, as they term them - perhaps we would say trained technicians - of Cambodia who came from 5 adjuncts of universities if not 5 separate universities approched our delegation. We sat and talked with them for some hours. They were genuine, intelligent people. One might say that they were the better trained and better educated section of that community. They were significant of that small nation. They put to us their need for friends who would get up in high places throughout the world and put their point of view. We were accepted as genuine, sincere people who would help them. Maybe I and this side of Parliament have been too quiet about these people, but so has the entire Government of today.

I find it beyond my comprehension that a government of Australia should be on friendly terms at every available opportunity with people who were the naked aggressors in Cambodia. There is an area of complete unfairness in this Parliament in regard to the people of Cambodia. I hope that in this session of the Parliament I will hear more than one honourable member rise to back the views I am putting forward tonight in relation to Cambodia.

Suggest corrections