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Thursday, 9 May 1957


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- A characteristic common to all national leaders, and, I am afraid, to almost all people in all countries to-day, is an attitude of uncertainty, confusion, puzzlement and even hopelessness as we face the future in this atomic age. Statements by scientists only help to confuse the issue. While some scientists continue day and night to increase the diabolical power of nuclear fission and fusion bombs, other scientists are working day and night to warn the world of the terrible slaughter that faces humanity in an atomic war, and of the permanent damage to the human race that will result from the continued fall-out of radio-active material as the result of nuclear experiments. Today's press gives us another startling illustration of this. I quote from the Melbourne " Sun " of to-day, from a report datelined " New York, Wednesday ", which reads -

New traces of potentially dangerous radio activity have been found in milk. Dr. Arnold B. Kurlander, an assistant to the Surgeon General of the United States, said to-day the discoveries had been made since the testing of nuclear weapons began.

He said milk normally contained traces of radio-active potassium, but recent tests had disclosed traces of strontium-90 and cesium-137, both radio active, and potentially dangerous. People could also eat these radio-active elements in vegetables exposed to fall-out, just as milk cows did while grazing.

In Washington, a Public Health Service spokesman said tests were being made of milk samples from various United States cities.

So it is on! The effect of radio-active fallout will go on increasing; so, even if we do not have a war, millions of people will be destroyed or permanently disabled as a result of fall-out. National leaders, on the other hand, tell the world we must prepare for war to prevent war, and that any talk of peace is weakness. Some even suggest it is communistic to mention peace to-day.

Caught up between all these conflicting forces the ordinary people of the world, who matter most, to me anyway, are bewildered, looking for sanity and finding none, asking questions and receiving no answers, looking for hope and finding only despair. Others just become cynical. Others close their minds and refuse to think about it, riding on the tide of easy living, materialism and personal enjoyment.

Tragically, humanity seems to get scant consideration in all these statements we read from national leaders and scientists. National leaders should remember that the pawns in litis military game are not battleships, tanks, launching sites, aircraft and defence fortifications, but human lives; and the sooner our leaders realize that it is human lives that count in this world rather than these material things and concentrations of military power, the faster we will get a warless world. There is a sense of desperation in much of the defence preparations of all countries - certainly of Australia - Communist and non-Communist, and no matter whether leaders live in Moscow, Peking. London, New York, New Delhi, or the United Nations, fear grips them all. That is the common denominator of all the world to-day - fear! All the brave words uttered in the United Nations and in the parliaments of the world are only screens hiding the fear that k creeping into the hearts of men and women everywhere.

Who wants war? The ordinary people of every country never want to see it again, and they make up 98 per cent, of the people of the world. Whether they live behind the iron curtain, the bamboo curtain, or in the free world - whether they are black or white, peasants or preachers, farmers or artisans, Hindus or Christians, men or women - none of them wants war. I had an excellent opportunity to see this for myself when I made some trips overseas, during which I talked with the ordinary people. Ordinary people in all countries are the same as the ordinary people in this country. They want to live in peace with their neighbour if they can. They want a home and they want to raise their families in security. They want work. They want to be able to worship in freedom and mix with their fellow-men on a local level, and they also want to live in reasonable, rational, sensible peace. So, who wants war? I am convinced that if the leaders of Russia, the armament makers, war profiteers and the like, were converted to the ideology of moral standards and of democracy, war would become a subject for the museum, armchair chats, history books and memories. The present position is that about 2 per cent, of the world's people are in a position not only to force the world intoa mad armament race like that of to-day but also, through the power of evil leadership, to plunge the world into war. Two per cent.!

I should like to mention another point here. We know the colossal cost of defence. Millions of pounds pour out in armaments, man-power, administration, &c. India, when I was there in 1952, was spending 45 per cent, of her small budget on defence, when millions of her people had nowhere to live and were suffering from semi-starvation. Pakistan is spending about 60 per cent, of her budget on defence when she needs it so much for other development. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America are spending from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, of their incomes on defence when we, too, cry out for homes, irrigation, modern transportation and development.

The drive for power, therefore, by a few men, means the pouring out of the economic life-blood of nearly every nation of the world, the only exceptions being probably Sweden, Switzerland and Ireland. In South-East Asia, think of it, 133,000,000 people are homeless, and heavy defence expenditure means they will remain homeless and semi-starved for years to come. But for the huge defence expenditures, taxation, too, could be lighter, apart from the fact that more money would be made available for construction purposes for the good of humanity.

Who is going to start making peace, anyway? Some one has to start somewhere, some time. When will nations start trusting the other fellow? The United States puts up a plan to stop nuclear stockpiling. Russia suspects a trap in it and rejects it. Russia puts up a plan, even for " open skies " over vast areas, and the United States says, " No good, we cannot trust the Reds ". The United Kingdom puts up a proposal for multilateral disarmament - the United States is lukewarm and Russia is suspicious. This is international lunacy on a frightening scale. It means that no scheme to save humanity is any good unless the individual nation's own plan is accepted, which means, in effect - " My way to peace, or no peace; my way to disarmament, or no disarmament ". At what stage is one nation going to start trusting the other? When are the nations going to find a common denominator of agreement between East and West, enslaved and free, between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the rest of the world?

What has Russia got to do before she will be trusted? What has America got to do before Russia will trust her? Have nations got to agree to everything before they will agree to anything? I repeat that. Have nations got to agree to everything in this mad nuclear age before they will agree to anything? We have to start somewhere. Some scheme put up by one of the nations should be tried for a start. Let us give Russia's scheme a try. Let us give America's scheme a try. We have to start somewhere and we can call the Russian bluff once we have started. But we will never get anywhere the way we are going, except into another war.

I think that we should talk more of the battle for peace to prevent war than of preparing for war to stop war. That has never worked yet in the world's history. We must go on winning friends across the frontiers and regard this as one of the greatest weapons against a future war. Friends do not kill each other. We must widen our friendships and narrow our hatreds, increase our agreements and narrow our prejudices. Had we built more friendships in the past 50 years we would have had to build fewer battleships. I wish to refer to the speech of my colleague the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who led for the Opposition in this debate, owing to the absence of our leader through illness. He said -

The subject of defence must be lifted from the level on which it is asked, "How many rifles, how many guns, how many bodies and how much brass and how many sergeant-majors have we? " The question must be asked, " How many friends have we in a hostile world? " We have not many. I had the privilege of talking to two journalists who came here from Singapore and other eastern countries. They were delighted with the friendliness of Australians, at the kindliness shown to them in this House and with the kindliness shown to them at the Snowy River Authority.

Later on he said-


Mr Roberton - Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in reading from " Hansard " a speech delivered in this House in the same debate?







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