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Tuesday, 9 October 1956

Mr ERWIN (Ballarat) .- Let us glance at nuclear and projected missile warfare in retrospect. During World War II.. we heard a lot about Hitler's secret weapon, and we know only too well the reign of terror that later fell on Great Britain with the introduction of the V2 projected missile. From that moment onwards it became clear to all thinking people - strategists, economists and scientists alike - that this was the new weapon of warfare. So at the end of 1945 and the beginning of 1946, Great Britain set out to find within the British Commonwealth of Nations a suitable site for the testing of projected missiles and nuclear weapons.

Mr Curtin - And they brought them toAustralia.

Mr ERWIN - I must say how very fortunate we are that Australia is geographically suited for that purpose. It is time that weceased to look at nuclear warfare with somescepticism. It is real; we must accept it.. We are in the atomic age, and for Opposition members to say that we should try toresist nuclear weapons is like endeavouring, to go back to the penny-farthing bicycle and to place our motor cars in the garage - Following England's choice of the Woomera, site for the testing of long range projected* missiles there came two mighty industries to Australia - the electronics industry and the aerodynamics industry. We are most fortunate in having those two industrieshere, because, as a result of their being established and the inpouring of capital tr> this country, we are twenty years ahead of our time. Australia, no doubt, is the nation, of the future.

Last year, England spent £60,000,000 - just think, gentlemen, £60,000,000 - on thisproject in comparison with our expenditureof £ 1 0,000,000. Without a doubt, the establishment of the Woomera long range weapons testing ground is meaning and will, mean something tremendous for Australia.

Mr Curtin - They ought to get rid of it. and send it somewhere else.

Mr Beale - A Labour government established it. Wake up!

Mr Clarey - It established a rocket range.

Mr ERWIN - At the Woomera testing: ground we experimented, first, with shortrange projectiles - air-to-air, ground-to-air,, and air-to-ground missiles. We are nowdeveloping a long-range deterrent missile. The greater the degree to which we cam develop long range projectiles and thermonuclear physics, the nearer we will come tomaking Australia the nation about which we so much dream. Our contribution is a contribution not only to the British Commonwealth of Nations, but also to the FreeWorld. We are living in a country that h large geographically but which has only a small man-power, and we could not havehoped to develop the two existing testing grounds by ourselves. So I say, sir, that the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a few days ago about the re-thinking of our defence expenditure was a wonderful thing. Without a doubt, we are now entering a new phase - the atomic phase. Warfare of the type we have known is, to a large degree, becoming obsolescent. We were living in a period in which we were completely dependent economically on coal. We are now living in a period in which we are dependent economically on oil. We are entering a phase in which we shall be completely dependent on uranium. I say that this testing ground for atomic and guided missiles - let us not forget that the one is closely related to the other - will bring about the early development of our uranium fields, and so will help us greatly in that direction. It is only by developing the long-range guided missile and the thermo-nuclear bomb that we can hope to prevent war.

This development is the means of preventing a third world war. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that that is so. So do not let us say that this kind of experiment is dangerous and that we should not have it in Australia. Let us accept this thing. Let us get to know this thing. I feel that it is only by the proper understanding of atomic power and atomic warfare that we shall really do something. It is the development of the atomic bomb that will give us a great deal of knowledge about the development of atomic power.

I feel that in three years' time there will be atomic generating stations all over England. In view of the Suez situation and the position of England's oil supplies, the development of nuclear power stations will be a grand thing for that country. Do not let us think for a moment that we in Australia can isolate ourselves from England. We cannot. We often hear the question, "Why should we worry about England? After all, we should be directing our thoughts towards America ". I am afraid that if England goes down economically, we shall go down economically. England's affairs are our affairs. The true knowledge of atomic power will help Great Britain to such an extent now and in the future that, once again, it will be and we shall be members of a great British Commonwealth of Nations that we are planning.

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