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Thursday, 4 April 1957


Mr MAKIN (Bonython) .- The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) followed the accepted party lines of debate, and I suggest that is a poor substitute for a constructive argument to justify the Government's policy on this matter. I am confident the constituency can be trusted to assess correctly his disparagement of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and of the Australian Labour party. I suggest to honorable members opposite that the time has surely come for them to realize that the political party which enjoys the support of the majority of the Australian people at the polls is deserving of something much beter than the traducing and maligning to which we have become accustomed to hear from the Government side.

I am glad that this debate upon foreign affairs has been initiated because it is desirable that the public mind should be informed upon the great issues arising in world affairs. Those issues are deserving of their deepest interest. I am afraid that to date there has been a tendency to look upon them as something rather removed from the interests of the ordinary member of the community. With the development of atomic energy and other forms of power now identified with weapons of war, the public is becoming increasingly concerned about these issues which are of vital importance to the community in general. That being so, it is desirable that we should make a correct assessment of our responsibilities and of the influence and power we should use to support causes that will help to preserve world peace. Improved world relations, no less than any other reform, do not come easily. During crises, when some countries have been demanding self government and the differences between others have needed to be reconciled, it has been a grand achievement to steer the world clear of serious consequences. The issues in dispute could have precipitated another world conflict, but the United Nations has done signal service in avoiding such a calamity. This world authority should receive loyal and consistent support. For countries such as Australia, and for the smaller nations, the United Nations is the one place in which their voices can be heard on matters in dispute. I know of no other place in which our voice could be heard with equal effect and our views given the consideration and respect that are rightly due to them.

I have had the opportunity to judge the worth of the United Nations. For many years it was my great privilege to lead the Australian delegation to the United Nations and to act on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, who was at that time the Minister for External Affairs, in presenting the Australian policy to that organization, 1 found that Australia's views on international affairs were respected. We were, therefore, able to work for a better understanding of the world's problems. Unfortunately, Australia has now lost its position, mainly because of the lukewarm and half-hearted attitude adopted by members of the Government. The affairs of the United Nations are regarded as of minor importance by honorable gentlemen opposite. They look more to military action to make people submit to their will, and do not pay regard to the rights or wrongs of those people. Some of the interests that support this attitude have unmercifully exploited areas for oil, rubber and minerals, and given mighty little in return. They have had no consideration for the people who have made those wonderful resources available to them. But since the war we have entered a new era. To-day, people in those exploited areas are demanding that they share in these great riches so that they may have a better standard of living. They have a perfect right to enjoy the better standards of living that could thereby be made available to them.

No one can deny to the Leader of the Opposition the credit due to him for the part- he played in helping to establish a world authority which has as its objects the preservation of peace and the reconciliation of differences between nations. Unfortunately, the world press has been unfavorable to the United Nations. The press is more concerned with conflicts and provocative matters, and brings contention into the lives of people. When I attended the first meeting of the United Nations in London, I found that the world press did not regard it as worthy of support and encouragement. i asked myself whether there was any relation between that attitude and the attitude of those who resent any moves for world peace. When a move is made to establish permanently good relations between nations, the value of shares owned by certain people fall on the stock exchange. I have noticed frequently that when there has been a possibility of agreement between major nations, the complaint is made that such agreement would depreciate the value of stocks and shares. The way in which agencies to-day are prepared to exert themselves in vital ^natters does them no credit.

I hope that, when the Prime Minister

That danger is so grave that an earnest effort must be made to avert it. A sincere appeal should be made to those who are responsible so that we can have some proper understanding as to how this power can be used, not to exterminate, but to benefit mankind. The Government should exercise its influence by direct resolution upon this matter in the United Nations. There is no reason why the Government cannot initiate negotiations of that character in the organization. I believe that it would be possible to secure unanimous support for such action among the nations of the world. The labour party earnestly makes this appeal to the Government in an attempt to bring in a new era and give fresh hope to the people of the world and so help to dispel the fear that now prevails so universally in regard to this matter.

Members of the Labour party have been criticized because they have dared to question the attitude adopted by other governments, even those of other British countries. We have also been criticized because we have suggested procedures that should be adopted to give expression to democratic ideas and principles. Honorable members opposite feel that we have acted reprehensively in questioning the policy of the United Kingdom; but our view is in line with the majority opinion of the British people. Sufficient proof of that has been given at the successive by-elections in Great Britain. The results of those elections have proved that the Government of Great Britain does not express the view of the British people; and that fact confirms the view that we have been prepared to express. It is consistent with the common view held by the great British community. In that respect, therefore, we have nothing for which to apologize to honorable members opposite or to any one else. Our attitude conforms to the forward thinking and policy that will lead this world towards a better expression of life and give it the security and well-being that every man, woman and child deserves.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Downer) adjourned.







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