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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) .- The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) has repeated, once again, the assurance he has given to the House that we have absolutely nothing to fear from the nuclear tests that are being conducted in and around Australia. Yet, in spite of the Minister's assurances, we find that eminent scientists in other parts of the world, including Great Britain itself, take an entirely different view. I wish to quote, from the " Age " of 1st March of this year, the remarks of Professor Haddow, the director of the Chester Beatty Research Institute at the London Royal Cancer Hospital. He had this to say -

The British assured the Australians during tests in Australia that there would be no risks (of radiation affecting humans).

That is the assurance that the Minister is again giving to the House in respect of the tests to be conducted at Christmas Island. The report continued -

Professor Haddow, speaking of nuclear test explosions at a meeting of the Parliamentary Association for World Government, accused America, Britain and Russia of underestimating the hazards of radiation from nuclear weapons.

It is all very well for English scientists to come over here, 12,000 miles from Great Britain, to conduct their tests close to Australia's shores and to expose the Australian people to the ill-effects of those tests.

English scientists like Professor Titterton have the cheek to come out to this country, accept our hospitality and tell us that there will be no ill effects from nuclear radiation as a result of the tests conducted in Australia for the benefit of the Conservative Government of Great Britain. That is something that should not be tolerated by the Australian Government. While Titterton and other English scientists are telling us that we have nothing to fear-

Mr Beale - Australian scientists agree with them.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No Australian scientist of any note has said there is nothing to fear. The greatest scientists in the world to-day are contradicting the views of the English scientists, who, to suit their purposes, are persuading us that there is nothing to fear from carrying on these dangerous tests in Australia. If Australia has nothing to fear from these tests carried out for the British Government, why is it that the British Government is now complaining about the abnormal fall-out that has occurred in parts of England during the past two or three weeks? Sheep in Wales have been found to contain 100 times more than the normal proportion of strontium, as a result of the fall-out from nuclear tests that have been conducted by Russia. If the people of Great Britain are suffering the ill effects of nuclear tests conducted by Russia - which is further away from England than is the site of the nuclear tests to be conducted by the British Government from Australia - it is only reasonable to assume that the scientists of the world who disagree with the point of view of the English scientists are nearer to the truth than they are. As Australians, we are entitled to look to the Australian Government to protect us from the kind of thing which we know is going on around us at this very minute. We are entitled to see that steps are taken to protect us and our children from the dangers that scientists all over the world now tell us are associated with nuclear tests.

Earl Attlee, whom no one could claim is a Communist or likely to peddle the Communist line, has been outspoken on this matter. This brings me to the comment of the Minister about the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). Every time this Government gets into a sticky spot, it tries to talk its way out by bringing out the old humbug about communism. Communism seems to be the Government's perfect explanation of everything that it cannot get out of by using logic and reason. It uses a smear campaign, by accusing its critics of being Communists. The members of the Labour party in Great Britain probably have a better right to speak about nuclear tests than many other people. Their opinion, expressed in the House of Commons - an opinion which Earl Attlee supports - was that the British tests at Christmas Island ought to be postponed for a limited period to see whether the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America would make some favorable response.

Mr Beale - Is the honorable member in favour of that?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes, of course, I am in favour of it. The British Labour party is perfectly correct when it suggests that we ought to do everything possible to bring some sanity to this mad world.

Mr Beale - Unilateral abandonment.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is all very well for the Minister to talk about unilateral abandonment, but unless some country gives a lead, there will never be agreement. Somebody has got to start, and it might as well be Australia as some other country, because if somebody does not make a start soon there will be nobody left to start anything. Everybody and everything on the surface of the earth will be completely obliterated. Something has to be done. This may be only a feeble approach, but is the right approach under the present circumstances. Anything is right that will prevent the kind of war that would be fought if ever war broke out on a world-wide scale. We are told by eminent scientists that there is already enough dust in the upper atmosphere to ensure that 50,000 people will be born either sterile, idiots, with cancer of the bones or suffering from leukaemia. That is as a result of the tests that have already been held. Every additional test that takes place will increase the amount of strontium 90 in the atmosphere, and will increase the radio-activity of the world as we now know it. Even a slight increase in strontium 90 fall-out or radio-activity is dangerous to the human race. The position steadily worsens, therefore, with every experiment that is conducted. It is rapidly worsening, and indeed in the event of world-wide nuclear warfare it would so rapidly worsen that it would affect every country, neutral or belligerent.

Mr. DuncanSandys, the British Minister for Defence, said that there was absolutely no defence at all against nuclear warfare. He said that the only defence was to seek peace. We have to seek peace because we have reached a stage to-day where we have

Only two alternatives. One is peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world - the Communist part of the world - and the other is no existence at all. I am all in favour of peaceful co-existence, because I would rather have peaceful co-existence than the alternative, which is non-existence for us and for the people of all other countries. There was a time when anybody who talked of peaceful co-existence was accused of being a Communist. Strange as it may seem, the first person who uttered the slogan of peaceful co-existence was the leader of the Soviet Republic. Now we have Mr. Duncan Sandys saying that peaceful co-existence is the only alternative. The Minister came near to the point when speaking in this House a fortnight ago. He said that any test carried out could, and probably would, to some extent, be dangerous.

Mr Beale - I did not say that.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Well, the Minister should have said it. If he knows anything about the subject that is what he should have said. The fact that the Minister did not say it only confirms my view that he knows nothing about the matter.

There is no doubt that the hydrogen bomb is an evil thing. It is an offence against God and man, spreading its destruction and death - indeed worse than death because unborn generations will suffer sterility, idiocy, and other afflictions. Not only does the strontium fall-out increase the incidence of bone cancer and leukemia, but the effects of radiation will create sterility and other genetic abnormalities. Someone has to give the lead, and it is no use harping about unilateral action. Of course there has to be unilateral action for a time, and it is worth trying. It is worth trying to see if we can get some positive result from it. I believe, therefore, that there should be some attempt to arrange a summit conference between the leaders of the great nuclear powers. In the meantime there should be a postponement, for a limited period, of the tests to be carried out at Christmas Island. I think we should go to the other nuclear powers and say that we are prepared to stop if they are prepared to stop. In the meantime we should press strongly upon the British Government the need to postpone the detonation of this horrible bomb at Christmas Island.


Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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