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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) .- The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) concluded by saying that we should say to the other powers that are testing nuclear weapons, " We will stop if you will stop ". That was a complete contradiction of his earlier assertion that some one had to stop first. This shows again the confused thinking of the Opposition on this question. Earlier in his remarks the honorable member said, " We expect the Government to defend us ". That is what is actually happening at the present stage. The honorable member spoke about peaceful co-existence and said that these tests would kill future generations. One of the arguments and contentions of this Government is that communism at the moment threatens to kill present generations. Indeed, if we look at what communism is doing throughout the world, we find that in many countries it is already killing the present generation.

This motion of urgency from the Opposition implies that no steps are being taken towards the banning of nuclear tests at the present stage. But, as has been mentioned by other speakers, a disarmament conference, in which the five nations are gathered together, is endeavouring to find a solution to this particular problem. However, while those nations are at present gathered together endeavouring to find a solution to this problem, our strength is the strength in the power that we have. Members of this House will recall that only recently I said that one of the greatest lessons of history surely was that we must lead from strength and not from weakness. Honorable members opposite have said that the British Labour party objects to the test at Christmas Island. The British Labour party is divided on this issue, and Mr. Brown, who has been mentioned as the " shadow " defence minister for a future Labour government, or socialist government as they would call it, has supported these tests at Christmas Island. So we find that there is a great deal of confusion of thought in the urgency matter raised by members of the Opposition.

There are conflicting ideas and conflicting thoughts from scientists in connexion with the suggested dangers of these tests. Very careful tests made by United States scientists at the Nevada testing grounds show that no risks have developed from explosions that have taken place in the area. I feel that the Opposition frequently defeats itself in this argument. It has been said that the Opposition desires to keep this debate on a very high plane. No one will deny that for the sake of civilization, for the sake of the progress and development of the world, there should be. a stop to this mad race.

Mr Ward - Where will you start?

Mr LUCOCK - I will answer the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) later. I feel that there is no advantage in merely initiating debates such as this. The honorable member for Darebin mentioned the attitude of the Christian churches, and frequently I have heard from members of the Opposition the accusation that, although I am a minister of the Presbyterian Church, I frequently speak on defence matters in a way that is not Christian. Sir, I would suggest that we go back to the remarks made by President Benes of Czechoslovakia at the time of the conference between Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Daladier, when Czechoslovakia was carved up. President Benes said that it was a sacrifice the Chechoslovakian nation was prepared to make for the sake of the world. It might be compared to the sacrifice, made by Christ upon the cross and if it brought peace to the world, the Czechoslovak nation would feel that it had made a lasting and vital contribution.

Mr R W HOLT (WANNON, VICTORIA) - That was after Munich.

Mr LUCOCK - Yes. We know that that action did not bring about peace. If we cease these tests, have we any guarantee that the Russians will cease theirs? Russia is closer to civilized areas than we are. Tests carried out behind the iron curtain are closer to civilized countries than those carried out by Western nations. If the remarks made by honorable members opposite are true, Russia is creating a. greater danger to Pakistan and other .populated areas than we of the West are in conducting our tests. I have pointed out, on a number of occasions, that the reality of this question exists in whether we are prepared to give away completely any possibility of defending ourselves and to allow the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to take the lead and be able to dictate to us whatever they want, whenever they want to do so. I have pointed out before that, when the Western democracies have stood firm, Russia has backed down. Surely, if there is one lesson to be learned from history, it is that the danger of war is lessened if we are strong and that the danger of war is increased if we are weak. If we cease nuclear tests and thus weaken ourselves in nuclear power of defence, we immediately hand to the Russians, and to our enemies, the opportunity to come through if and when they like.

If we consider the present situation, we find that Russia is constantly interfering in international affairs to the detriment of the Western nations. The latest evidence of that is the visit of the President of the U.S.S.R., Marshal Voroshilov, to Indonesia. There, he stated categorically that west New Guinea was part of Indonesia and should be handed over to it We know that there is no reality or truth in that statement. Once again, Russia is supporting people close to our shores in something which would be detrimental to us. In this situation, what we must face is not whether we are prepared to work in peaceful coexistence with Russia and place ourselves in a position where our defence is negligible, but whether we are prepared to place ourselves in a position in which we can go into conference with Russia to work for peace, leading from strength and not from weakness.

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