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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Sir ARTHUR FADDEN (McPhersonTreasurer) - by leave - I desire to make a statement about the use of the Suez Canal, about which the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) asked a question. As honorable members will have, heard from radio reports, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom last night announced that the United Kingdom Government has decided to withdraw its request to United Kingdom shipping to avoid using the Suez Canal. The Australian Government has had official confirmation of this decision, and has been kept informed by the United Kingdom of its deliberations on the question. In all the circumstances, including evidence of the intention of the shipping of most other countries to recommence using the canal, the Australian Government supports the United Kingdom's decision, which will have the practical effect of relieving a substantial amount of world trade of the cost of using alternative routes.

The establishment of a satisfactory permanent regime for administering and operating the Suez Canal is another matter. The arrangements which Egypt offers still fall short of satisfying the interests of the world in this public utility. Specifically, the arrangements, while now somewhat better than those originally offered by Egypt, continue to fall short of the six basic principles which the Security Council of the United Nations unanimously laid down for the operation of the canal. Therefore, users of the canal are making it clear that they regard themselves as participating in a de facto arrangement. The Australian view, shared by a great many other governments, is that continued efforts must be made, inside and outside the United Nations, to obtain Egyptian agreement to an effective international' instrument governing both the method of operation of the canal and assurance of the right of passage for world ship ping and trade. What originated as a dispute between Egypt and Britain and France now directly concerns the United Nations. The question of Egypt's conformity to the principles approved by the Security Council remains on the agenda of that body, and it may be expected that this subject will be pursued.

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