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Thursday, 11 April 1957

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- Let me deal briefly with the three points made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). First, the atomic problem is a problem which concerns, not only the three great powers, America, Russia and the United Kingdom - in that order - which are possessed of atomic and hydrogen bombs, but every other country in the world, not least Australia, because it is in our hemisphere and in our ocean that experimentation now proceeds with the most lethal forms of those weapons.

The problem resolves itself into this question: Who shall be the first to desist from these experiments? At present, we are engaged in a mad race in which neither side is willing to be the first to announce that it has discontinued the experiments but each competes with the other by offering to discontinue the experiments. I can think of nothing which would expose more definitely the bad faith of the Russians than a declaration by the United Kingdom and the United States of America that, for the following six months, they would discontinue all experiments with these weapons. If, in the face of such a declaration, the Soviet Union were to continue with its experiments, we should be morally justified in resuming ours. The initiative could be ours, but we resolutely refuse to take the initiative and, at the same time, condemn the Russians for refusing to take it themselves.

The next point made by the honorable member was that the United Nations is a broken reed, but apparently, though broken, a necessary reed. If the United Nations has failed, it is because the members of the United Nations, including Australia, have failed. The United Nations cannot, spontaneously, take any step. Any action by the United Nations must be initiated by one of its members. During the last year, Australia has been a member, not only of the General Assembly, but also of the Security Council. In that time, it has been grossly deficient and renegade by failing to propose motions in both the General Assembly and the Security Council which would have reduced tension in the world and which would have helped to prevent the tragic actions which we have seen in the Middle East in the last six or eight months.

The third point made by the honorable member concerned the necessity for free men to unite in the face of the Communist threat to the whole of the world. In the last six months in particular, and during the last two years or eighteen months in general, the actions of the Conservative Government of the United Kingdom have resulted in the greatest expansion of Communist influence in the last decade. The British policy in Cyprus has done more than anything else in the last six or seven years to bring about a resurgence of communism in Greece, a country with which 80 per cent, of the inhabitants of Cyprus feel an enduring affinity.

The British and French action in Egypt resulted in all the Arab countries being faced with an alternative which most of them disliked - that is, the influence of Russia. In betrayal of all the best British and French traditions in foreign policy and domestic democracy, we made an assault on one of the Arab nations. As a result, those nations have now turned more than they otherwise would have turned to what appears to be the only alternative among the big powers of the world. The tragedy is all the greater because Russia, in Hungary, was guilty of an act which brought about an unparalleled revulsion among her satellites and among all people who had been prepared to believe that there was some hope for a more moderate system in Russia. The impact of Russia's action there has been dulled and blunted by the fact that the British and the French - who, until then, had kept their noses pretty clean - themselves were guilty of an act of like kind, even though of lesser degree.

Mr Anderson - They stopped the Arab war.

Mr WHITLAM - The United Nations stopped the Arab war. In the last six months we have seen the culmination of a tragic situation in the Middle East, brought about by the British Conservative Government. Before the attack was made on Egypt, the position was that Egypt had offered compensation on just terms to the Suez Canal Company for the remaining twelve years of its concession, had announced its adherence to the 1888 Convention, had agreed to the Security Council's six principles and was piloting ships through the canal in undiminished numbers. But, in face of that, the British and the French attacked Egypt.

The first sin that they committed there, of course, was a flagrant defiance of the charter of the United Nations, the supreme law in international affairs, under which all members - and Britain and France were founding nations and permanent members of the Security Council - undertook to settle their international disputes by peaceful means and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or the use of force. Britain and France defied those two basic, preliminary provisions of the United Nations' charter. In addition, they ignored their 1950 tripartite declaration with the United States, which was supposed to guarantee peace in that area. In fact, they did not consult with thi United States at all, because there was no doubt in their minds what the United States would have said if she had been consulted.

Furthermore, Britain broke its 1954 agreement with Egypt. That agreement, which was quite favorable for Britain, enabled British troops to re-occupy the canal bases in the event of an armed assault on any Arab nation or on Turkey, except if the assault were by Israel. This was an assault by Israel, but Britain presumed to restore her troops to the Suez Canal area in breach of the 1954 agreement - an agreement in which Britain recognized, to use the precise words, the fact that the canal was an integral part of Egypt. Then the United Kingdom and France - I do not suppose that we have any responsibility for France, but we have for the United Kingdom because our Prime Minister connived at this procedure - vetoed the resolutions in the Security Council. The United Kingdom, for the first time, exercised its right of veto in that council. They then opposed these resolutions in the General Assembly, being in a smaller minority in the assembly than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had ever found itself.

What was the result of the United Kingdom's participation? The canal was blocked for six months; the Mosul-Tripoli pipeline was sabotaged for five months; the British bases in Libya and Jordan were lost; and the 1954 agreement with Egypt was denounced. Take the less discernible, but nevertheless very real, results. Our mora? force in the world was dissipated, British prestige and moral standing in the world are at a lower ebb than at any time since the Boer war. British and French in fluence in the Middle East is back where it was before Bonaparte's and Nelson's excursions in that area.

Then let us look at the human consequences of the British Government's action. Thousands of British were stranded in Egypt or had to go as refugees to the United Kingdom, a fact which no newspaper in Australia has mentioned, although, of course, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has done so. There are at least 5,000 British refugees who were formerly in Egypt but are now stranded in the United Kingdom, and the Australian Government has belatedly said that they can come to Australia if they pay their passages. They are to get no assistance of any kind to come here, although they are in every respect eligible to come here. Incidentally, very little sympathy seems to be spared for the Egyptians, or the wogs, as so many Honorable members on the Government side jail them. There are 30,000 Egyptians in refugee camps outside Port Said at this very moment.

Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.

Mr WHITLAM - Before the suspension of the sitting I was tracing the tragic consequences to the material well-being and moral standing of Western Europe wrought &y the Conservative Government in the United Kingdom. It is significant that the Minister for External Affairs a week ago .ought to justify the action of Israel, but did not try to justify the action of the United Kingdom and France. If Egypt is a threat to peace we should raise the issue in the Security Council, of which we are one of the present members. If Egypt is breaking international law the matter should be brought before the World Court, where the Soviet has no veto. It is idle for honorable members to complain about the inaction of the United Nations and the World Court when we fail to initiate action in either place. Israel was a voice crying in the wilderness until the conservatives found it would be a useful weapon against Egypt.

Now I want to refer to the tragic consequences to Australia of our Prime Minister's actively and vociferously identifying himself with Sir Anthony Eden's action. Our friends and neighbours now tend to identify Australia with the archaic, illegal and immoral attitude of the Eden Government. For many weeks the United States Government snubbed our Prime Minister, our Minister for External Affairs and all our representatives in the United States and at the United Nations.

Two nights ago the Prime Minister made a plea for the United States in future to back us and England and France, right oi wrong. I, for one, am thankful that the United States did so much in recent months to preserve the reputation of democracy in Asia and Africa. We did not confer with the Asian members of the Commonwealth, although they stood to lose more economically in the Suez crisis than we in Australia; nor did we confer with Canada and South Africa. It is the fault of Australia's Prime Minister that Australia herself is now so isolated and so suspect among all her neighbours. Our ponderous pro-consul may bulk large in the literal sense but, in the diplomatic sense, he does not cut a very good figure. His was the hour of glory and his is the continuing guilt.

It is greatly to be deplored that the Minister for External Affairs did not succeed in having his policy endorsed by his government, and that his voice was not heard as our representative in the United Nations. It is significant that in this House a week ago he did not endorse, or even refer to, the Prime Minister's attitude.

I think that our attitude over Suez is just another instance of our disregard of out neighbours. Let me give three other instances: Our failure to recognize the Government of China; our attitude towards Indonesia; and our attitude towards India. Let it be said straightaway about China that there is no question of handing over the people of Formosa to the Government in Peiping without reference to the people of Formosa. The people in Formosa have never had an opportunity to say whether they want integration with China, separation from China, or links once again with Japan. The arguments we have been given against recognizing the Government of China are twofold. It is said that we would offend the United States. I need only point out that half of the nations in Nato recognize the Government of China, that all the nations in Meto recognize it, and that two of our colleagues in Seato recognize it also. It is also said that we would lose the support of the overseas Chinese, numbering 10,000,000 or more. Are we to believe that the guerrillas in Malaya would lay down their arms, or the people in Singapore, the largest Chinese city outside China itself, would cease from civil strife if the United Kingdom reversed its stand on the recognition of China? Every country in Asia, except Thailand, recognizes the Government of China. It would be better for us, if we do not want to recognize that Government, to withdraw our recognition of the Government in Formosa rather than to let it be thought that we encourage its aspirations of reconquest of the mainland or, still worse, to preserve the irritating pretence that it is entitled to a permanent place on the Security Council and on the World Court.

Now I turn to our attitude towards Indonesia, our nearest neighbour, the sixth country in the world in population and the largest in population in the Southern Hemisphere. There are two continuing forms of irritation there. One is the long gap in our diplomatic representation, and the other is our fruitless attitude towards the control of West New Guinea. We have recognized the Government of Indonesia now for more than seven years, but for four of these years we did not have an accredited representative in that country. We had a man there for two of those four years who did not have the status of an ambassador. He was a mere charge d'affaires.

Now I refer to West New Guinea. We persist in misrepresenting Indonesia's claim' to that territory. It makes no geographical or racial claim; otherwise the Indonesians would make a claim to East New Guinea or to eastern Timor also, or to North Borneo and Sarawak, or to Palawan and the Sulu Archipelago. But Indonesia's claim is based on the ground that Indonesia is the successor state to all the Netherlands East Indies, in which West New Guinea was included. We are often given a strategic justification for Australia's attitude, but only by those who ignore the fact that the Kai, Tanimbar and Aroe Islands, lying between that territory and Australia, are occupied - and we acknowledge the occupation - by Indonesia, and were occupied during the war and used as bases, by the Japanese.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Are they nearer to Australia than New Guinea?

Mr WHITLAM - Yes, much. They are about half the distance. We cannot assert that the inhabitants of West New Guinea should govern themselves, since we assert that the inhabitants of the eastern half are not fit to do so. Indonesia can scarcely claim she could govern them when she finds so much difficulty in governing Sumatra,

Borneo and the Celebes. One thing is certain, however, and that is that the Netherlands can have only an ever-decreasing tenure in this territory, and Australia is backing a dead horse instead of promoting some idea of trusteeship such as we ourselves maintain in our area of New Guinea. Let it be realized that every year in the last three years the United Nations has, by a large majority, rejected Australia's stand in favour of the Netherlands, and that every country in Asia, including all the Seato and Meto powers, voted against us, and on every occasion the United States abstained from voting.

I come lastly to our attitude towards India. India comes in for more criticism in this place than any power associated with us. except in recent months the United States, which Government members continue to criticize, albeit mostly covertly. It is the most populous democracy in the world. It inherits and maintains the British political, judicial and administrative tradition and. above all, it is a great adherent to the United Nations. All our neighbours take the United Nations seriously, and therefore it is all the more appalling that the other night the Prime Minister should refer to the Secretary-General of the United Nations as " bowing to Colonel Nasser with bated breath and whispering humbleness ". It is a contemptible affront-

Mr Leslie Mr. Leslieinterjecting,

Mr WHITLAM - It would not be a contemptible affront to the honorable member for Moore, but it is a contemptible affront to a man who has the task of bringing order and reason out of the situation our Prime Minister did so much to entangle and exacerbate.

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