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Tuesday, 9 April 1957

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Prime. Minister) . - 1 would like to claim the attention of the House for a little time to-night to discuss some of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in relation to the position in the Middle East. The right honorable gentleman made' a speech along lines with which we are not unfamiliar. He has the misfortune to find it difficult to say much good about our friends, but finds some justification very frequently for those who are not our friends. And as I believe that one of the great things in foreign policy is that we should seek friends, make our friendships firmer and firmer, identify our friends, and endeavour at all times to operate in harmony with them, 1 would like to deal with some of the points that the Leader of the Opposi-- tion has made. - The first is this.: The right honorable gentleman said, referring to my distinguished colleague, the Minister for Exter-nal Affairs (Mr. Casey) - -The Minister for External Affairs, of course, organizes his Seatos and other organizations for the purpose of opposing radical, socialistdemocratic or Communist governments.

I do not know whether, there is some point' in the order of the words " socialist democratic " or whether the term includes democratic socialists, which I understand is Labour's new description, or new look, in our own country. He says that these agreements which have been- made, notably the Seato treaty - in which my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, is justly entitled to take great" pride - are "cooked up " in some sort of fashion to oppose any form of progressive government; and I will assume for this purpose, much against my will, that democratic socialism is progressive instead of reactionary, as we all know. He says that that is the position.

Then he goes on to add, as usual, something about the fascist countries. They are not identified. 1 did not know that there was any fascist country in our orbit which was threatening us, except those countries once brilliantly described by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, thehonorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) as the " red fascists ". And those are the very people, the potential aggressors, against whom these vastly important treaties have been made. I think it is rather a sad thing, for reasons that I will develop a little later on, that the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament should take time off so regularly to disparage the Anzus treaty, and to disparage the Seato treaty, just as originally, years back, he disparaged the Nato treaty. Does anybody suppose that the passage I have quoted is a fair account of the Seato treaty, or what it means to us? That is a question that people might ponder very carefully, but in order to deck it out with the necessary synthetic ferocity, the right honorable gentleman threw in some very offensive remarks about Thailand, a country which has had its vicissitudes, as most countries have had, but which is to-day the partner of the United States, the partner of the Philippines, the partner of Pakistan, of Australia, and of New Zealand, in a great South-East Asian treaty which, I believe, is vital to the security of our partners, and of ourselves. It is deplorable that references of this kind should be made to a country with which we are on the most intimate and friendly terms, a country represented with distinction in Australia, a country which for a brief day or two I hopeto visit with a message of goodwill inside the next fortnight.

The next point that I want to refer to in the right honorable gentleman's speech is that passage in which, to my astonishment, he referred to my alleged views on the subject of the Suez Canal. It has been said, and said very truly, about people like Goering, and other great Nazi masters, that their technique was to say something completely untrue and repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it, hoping that people would ultimately be beguiled into believing it. Therefore, the right honorable gentleman, referring to the Suez Canal position as it then stood, permitted himself to say this, and I quote his very words -

On 25th September, the Prime Minister asked what were the courses . . . and suggested first of all, full-blooded economic sanctions; failing that, the use of force - that is, war against Egypt, and failing that, unless we continued to negotiate, to do nothing.

Now, honorable gentlemen will see the order of the emphasis - start off with fullblooded sanctions; if they fail, have a go at war; if that fails then, by a strange freak of fancy, you have some negotiations. That is the statement made about the views of the head of the Government of this country by the man who aspires to be the head of the Government of this country. Therefore, it is necessary for me - I apologize to honorable members for repeating this - to nail that utterly dishonest and false statement about what I said. I shall quote my very words without any qualification or apology. I said -

What then should be our programme of action in relation to the Suez Canal, that great international waterway, up to now . . nonpolitical, which is at present the economic lifeline of hundreds of millions of people north, south, east and west of it?

First, negotiation for a peaceful settlement by means of honorable agreement. So far, we have tried this without success. The failure, let me repeat and emphasize, has not been due to any unfairness or illiberality on our side, but to dictatorial intransigence on the other . . .

Should we continue to negotiate on a watereddown basis, in the spirit which says that any agreement is better than none? i cannot imagine anything more calculated to strengthen Colonel Nasser's hand, or weaken our own.

Secondly, the putting on of pressure by cooperative effort on the part of the user nations. Colonel Nasser must be brought to understand that his course of action is unprofitable to his country and his people, and that he is abandoning the substance for the shadow. This is one of the great merits of the users associationnowestablished by the second London conference. The more canal revenue that is diverted from the Egyptian Government the less will the Egyptian people believe that it pays to repudiate.

So. so far, there is negotiation; there is negotiating pressure by the canal users' association. My statement continued-

Thirdly, should the United Nations, by reason of the veto, prove unable to direct any active course of positive action, we may find ourselves confronted by a choice which we cannot avoid making. i state the choices.

And I stated the choices in stark terms. They were -

(a)   We can organize a full-blooded programme of economic sanctions against Egypt, or.

(b)   We can use force to restore international control of the canal; or

(c)   We can have further negotiation, provided we do not abandon vital principles, or

(d)   We can " call it a day ", leave Egypt in command of the canal, and resign ourselves to the total collapse of our position and interests in the Middle East, with all the- implications for the economic strength and industrial prosperity of nations whose well-being is vital to ours.

I added to that -

This is. I believe, a realistic analysis of the position.

And so it was! It stated the four possible courses. It made it abundantly clear that I was all for negotiation so long as we were not abandoning things that matter. And, indeed, the United Nations Security Council itself took precisely the same view subsequently when it unanimously adopted its resolution embodying the six principles for negotiation, which were the very principles that I had taken, on behalf of eighteen nations, to Cairo. So, the suggestion that this was something put in a completely reversed fashion is untrue and dishonest.

The third thing that I refer to is that the right honorable gentleman took exception to a statement made by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, about the unhappy significance of racial problems in the Middle East. He rejected all that. He said, in effect - Oh, no, it was not orthodox enough in socialist circles to suit him. So, he said that the basic economic issue underlying the whole of the Middle East situation, including the Suez crisis, is the struggle of world monopolies to control oil supplies.

Mr Edmonds - That is true.

Mr MENZIES - Of course, 1 would expect any democratic socialist - new edition - to say that, because it displeases him. Of course, I would expect the honorable member to say it because he is the master, or rather the victim, of slogans. But I just put a few simple questions. Does this search for oil explain Nasser's seizure of the canal? Will somebody explain to me, some day, -how he came to seize the canal because the monopolies wanted oil? Does the existence of great supplies of oil in the Middle East explain the issues which exist between the Arab and the Jew? Can anybody explain that?

Mr James - It does not explain why you do not get oil from our coal.

Mr MENZIES - Well, I think the honorable member's leader, according to the arguments he has used, would answer that by, saying, " Because it is not in the Middle East". But who are the monopolists the right honorable gentleman talks about? \re they the great eastern potentates who own the oil wells? Did they start trouble over the canal, and close it, so that they :ould not sell their oil? Are the monopolists the importers of the United Kingdom, a country whose industry would almost end without oil, the living of millions of whose ordinary people is dependent on oil? Did they close the canal? I might even say that the monopolists, the great oil companies, are not unwilling in suitable circumstances to get as much as they can. But to the great oil companies, peace in the sources of supply is vital to the continuance of business and profit. All these questions suggest themselves, and I cannot imagine any answer to them that would line up with the statements made by the right honorable gentleman.

Then, the right honorable gentleman went on to talk, not for the first time, about nuclear tests. He made a passionate appeal which, I venture to think, should have been directed to Moscow. Indeed, it should have been directed to Moscow, because nobody in his five wits supposes that the United States, Great Britain and other people in the free world are going on with experiments with dreadful bombs just for the fun of it. I thought that everybody knows to-day that unless we have a deterrent in the free world then the free world is more subject to attack and defeat than perhaps it ever has been in its history.

The right honorable gentleman quoted the distinguished Prime Minister of Great Britain. He said, "The British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, is satisfied as to the safety of these experiments. Who is he to be satisfied " ? This is a very cun way of disposing of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom! This is a very curt way of disposing of the advisers whom he has available to him and who lead the world in their technical skill and in their developments in these matters! Of course, when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom says he is satisfied, he says he is satisfied because he has had the highest possible scientific advice. But he is dismissed with a sneer - who is he to be satisfied? I should have borne it better had the right honorable gentleman asked who was I to be satisfied, because, after all. we have had the highest possible scientific advice in Australia on this matter and are constantly improving an organization to ensure that the safety of the citizen in life, limb and property is adequately protected.

Then the right honorable gentleman said something to which I hesitate to refer. 1 kept a straight face with some difficulty when he said it. He said that it was shocking to think that an experiment of this nature should take place at Christmas Island, so named by Captain Cook because it was discovered on Christmas Day! Because a human being, however distinguished, discovered this island and called it Christmas Island, is a most astonishing reason for discarding what is obviously regarded as the most appropriate place for the test. Discarding it in order to do what? To conduct the test elsewhere? Or to abandon it altogether, which is the real object of the exercise? This is the oldest of propaganda; we have heard it, and we have read it in various sheets in Australia. The whole point that was being made was that if you could only get the democracies to abandon their advancement in this field, then perhaps the day of the dictatorship of the proletariat would be nearer.

Mr Cairns - Are you serious?

Mr MENZIES - I am serious. I frequently wish you were:' Let the honorable member for Yarra ask himself - and answer his own question frankly - whether he wants the Soviet Union to have the monopoly of knowledge and experiment in this field. That is a fair question. If he does not want the Soviet Union to have the monopoly in this field, then all these appeals for cessation should be directed to both sides in this matter. But they are never directed to the Soviet. They are always directed to us. If the Soviet Union is to have the monopoly, then what defence have we? Those questions may be pondered upon with advantage.

Now, sir, I move on from those considerations to say something, quite briefly, about the policy which is apparently advocated by the right honorable gentleman and by at least some members of the Opposition, that it is a good foreign policy in itself to say, "We will take this matter to the United Nations ". Time after time, in this place, I have heard it said: "Plank No. 1 in our policy is unswerving adherence to the United Nations. We must take it to the United Nations ".

Mr Ward Mr. Wardinterjecting,

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