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Thursday, 16 March 1961


Mr Ward - Whose side was he on?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for East Sydney roust remain silent. I should like the Acting Prime Minister to resume his seat for a moment. Interjections are always out of order, and when a statement of this kind is being made, or an answer is being given to a question such as that asked by the Leader of the Opposition, it would not be unreasonable to expect all honorable members to allow the Acting Prime Minister to proceed in silence.

Mr McEWEN - I was making the point, in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that notwithstanding the most serious disquiet which I think all Australians feel at the racial policies that have been practised in South Africa, we must remember that all of us, in turn, are liable to be judged by others. With that knowledge in our minds we recognize that this is an occasion for tolerance. It is not an occasion, I am sure, for any of us to contribute to widening a fissure or breach within the Commonwealth, but an occasion for us to express the hope that the last word has not been said, but that there may be some basis upon which the Commonwealth can sustain eventually the integrity that has been so beneficial to us all as individual countries, and to the peace of the world.

Mr. CALWELL(Melbourne- Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - In my view, it is most regrettable that South Africa has chosen to leave the British Commonwealth, and I hope that the position so created will be rectified at a later date when South Africa is prepared to meet the requests of the Commonwealth Prime Minsters that she subscribe to the der.h~&- tion of the principle of racial equality. I believe that South Africa cannot stand alone as an independent republic in a sea of colour, and that for economic reasons, if for no other, and possibly under a new Prime Minister, she will renew her application for admission to the British Commonwealth, as a republic, at a later time. I sincerely hope so, because nothing should be done to weaken the British Commonwealth, and everything possible should be done to strengthen it and increase its influence in world affairs. I do not agree with Dr. Verwoerd. I have not agreed with him at any time. I do not agree with him that if South Africa walks out of the Commonwealth disintegration of the Commonwealth is at hand. It is a tribute to all the Prime Ministers that, apparently, whilst maintaining their own points of view, which differed greatly both in outlook and in detail on different aspects of the question, there was no concerted move to refuse South Africa membership once it became a republic, and no attempt to impose conditions, other than to require it to do what every other country is prepared to do in this day, surely - that is, to acknowledge that all men are created equal, and that all have certain God-given inalienable rights.

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