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Thursday, 9 May 1957

Mr BEALE (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Supply) - Most certainly, this matter will be looked at. The Leader of the Opposition will remember that quite recently the Government decided to set up a national advisory radiation committee, which will be on a very high level and a completely impartial body. That is to say, it will be concerned with the overall problem of radiation throughout Australia and, indeed, throughout the world, not only from bomb fall-out, but from all causes. I know that many opinions have been expressed about this matter, and I do not want to enter into a controversy because, like every other member of the House, I have no qualifications to speak on it. But I have heard the opinion expressed in connexion with leukaemia which the Leader of the Opposition mentioned. I have heard it said by other equally eminent authorities that if there is an increase in the incidence of this disease it will be due not to bomb tests, but to radiation from X-rays and other sources, which might be described as natural causes. The matter that the right honorable gentleman has mentioned will be examined by the national advisory radiation committee, among other authorities. This is a clear indication of the fact that we regard this matter as one of national importance.

I know Sir John Cockcroft, and I have talked with him on this matter several times. I am quite clear in my mind that when it comes to nuclear tests, as distinct from thermo-nuclear and hydrogen bomb tests, Sir John, in common with other eminent authorities, would be quite specific in saying that the nuclear tests so far held in the world have not caused any disadvantage or danger to the human race.

Dr Evatt - As distinct from the hydrogen bomb?

Mr BEALE - As distinct from the hydrogen bomb and what might be called the " big yield " tests. I am not speaking of those.

Dr Evatt - Arising out of the Minister's remarks, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I invite his attention to a letter written to the leading scientific journal " Nature " by Sir John Cockcroft and published in the last six weeks. I do not say that it is contrary to what the Minister has said, but I think that it is most relevant.

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