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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 262


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - It seems strange, almost to myself, that I should be speaking tonight on a subject of tremendous importance in this adjournment debate when few will listen and perhaps my words will have no effect whatsoever. Nevertheless I think these things must be said. I believe that the present urgent events make it necessary that they should be said now. What I say now I hope to have an opportunity to repeat in this House and elsewhere, and I hope that other people may also find some capacity to support it. The primary duty laid on this Australian Parliament is the duty of ensuring Australia's security. Without this everything else we say about our prosperity and standards of living means nothing. If we fail in this duty we fail in everything. I shall mention 2 things that happened in this House' today. Firstly, when a statement on foreign affairs was made no opportunity was given to debate it. It was obvious that we in . this House were not to be given an opportunity to express our views.


Mr Morrison - I take a point of order. The honourable member is not accurate in his observation.


Mr WENTWORTH - This is not a point of order; it is a deliberate attempt to interrupt.


Mr Morrison - I am taking a point of order because the honourable member made a statement which is not true.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order involved.


Mr WENTWORTH - Thank you, Mr Speaker. That was a very unwise intervention by the Minister.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I shall look after the honourable member's interest.


Mr WENTWORTH - Thank you. The second thing that happened in the House, and I make only a passing reference to it, is that we had a defence statement which virtually set out the liquidation of any effective defence capacity. What is the situation in which these things have occurred? First, in Australia's immediate neighbourhood the situation has deteriorated almost beyond belief. The domino theory was ridiculed. The only trouble about the domino theory was that events are verifying it, but nobody wants to look at the facts and nobody wants to listen. Already the security which we thought we had on our northern frontiers seems to be vanishing. Our friends, the friends on whose support we could have relied in the past, seem now either reluctant or powerless or alienated. Britain and the United States of America in a sense seem paralysed in this sphere. France is the object of our execration. Australia's defences seem weaker by this. At the same time boiling up over the northern hemisphere there seems to be the risk of insipient famine such as we have not seen for many decades - a famine which no doubt, if the seasons do not improve, will produce problems which we have not yet faced, because the hungry people will not easily endure the sight of our abundance. Australia is threatened. In these circumstances it almost seems as if we had changed sides. Perhaps the word 'almost' is an exaggeration. It seems that we have changed sides. Is this safe? Is there any real security for Australia in believing that the communist forces-


Mr Morrison - Oh!


Mr WENTWORTH - Yes, I know. I hear from honourable members opposite screams of ridicule. They are coming now. These are the guilty men. These are the people who have persuaded Australians that they have nothing to fear. This campaign of ridicule - it is occurring now - is one of the matters on which the Government has a guilt towards the' whole Australian population.

I want the House, if it thinks that there is some security in this changing of sides, to look at what happened in Europe last month at the so-called Conference on Security and Co-operation which was held in Helsinki. I want the House to see what this implies. Two things happened: Firstly, the members of the Russian bloc came forward with the highsounding protestation that they wanted to respect the principles of non-intervention, integrity of frontiers and inviolability of neighbouring states. That is fine. But when it came to the point they said: 'This does not imply that what we did in Czechoslovakia was wrong'. Perhaps this is a matter of semantics. They come forward with this hypocritical pretence of believing in the territorial inviolability of their neighbours, but when they refer to their attack on Czechoslovakia they say: 'This is not violation of territorial integrity'. That is what the Russians said at that conference. I want the House to realise the double dealing - the double standard - that lies behind the Russian protestations in this regard.

The second thing was even more important. At that conference the Russians refused to allow the free world to have any contact with their own people inside Russia. They want to maintain inside Russia the propaganda of hostility - the propaganda that makes war possible - and they will not give us any information access to their people. They want to keep their people ideological prisoners in the same way as they are prisoners behind the Iron Curtain by physical fact. If there is to be freedom of information it must be a two-way traffic. What Russia did at Helsinki in this one matter entirely destroys any pretence of good faith which it may have put forward. It is no use our talking about a detente and a relaxation of tension when all we are called upon to do is surrender. Let us have a detente; let us have this relaxation of tension, by all means. But if there is to be this, it must be without surrender and it must work two ways. We must have the same freedom of access to their people as they have to ours.

The Russians have their propaganda agents in this country. Their voice is heard. Their voice is vociferous. Their effect, I fear, may be immense. That is well and good. But why should it be a one-way traffic? Why are we not allowed to have a corresponding access to the people behind the Iron Curtain?


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.







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