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Thursday, 8 November 1956

Mr WIGHT (Lilley) .- The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has suggested that he was disappointed at the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he made his statement this afternoon. May I suggest that not only honorable members on this side of the House, but also a great number of those who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and certainly the Australian people, will be disgusted when they read in the press to-morrow that the Leader of the Opposition, when speaking of the statement made by the Prime Minister on the Egyptian situation, was able to spend a lot of time in delivering himself of a harangue against Great Britain, and in giving voice to all the anti-British remarks that he could possibly utter. Reference was then made to the situation in Hungary, where thousands of people have been shot down by Russian troops; where Russian tanks have machine-gunned unarmed women and children in the streets when they could not have expected to be fired upon, and were offering no resistance, but were merely trying to see what was going on. When the Leader of the Opposition made his remarks on the Hungarian situation, following upon the statement made by the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, he uttered not one single word of condemnation of Soviet

Russia. Plausibly, he talked about the United Nations and the great effort thai that organization is making, but I suggest that the honorable member for Hindmarsh read the pages of " Hansard " to see whether he can find there one remark made by the Leader of the Opposition in condemnation of the actions of Russia in Hungary. Although I have been in this Parliament for seven years, I have never yet heard the Leader of the Opposition say a good word for the British Empire or the British people, nor have I heard him condemn Soviet Russia at any stage of his political career. He ran true to form to-day Let me assure the honorable member for Hindmarsh that we on this side were disgusted by the efforts of his leader.

Let us not overlook a fact that was made clear by Sir Anthony Eden in the speech that he made to the House of Commons during the emergency session last Saturday. He put the position in this way: If one sees a fire, one seeks immediately, not to find out how the fire was started, but to put it out. The attack on Egypt by the Israeli forces could have set the whole of the Arab world aflame. Egypt has pacts with Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. They have formed an Arab bloc, in opposition to the Meto agreement, and they have tried to persuade Iraq to join that Arab bloc. When Israel attacked Egypt, the whole of the Arab world could have been drawn into that war.

In that event, the Suez Canal would have been out of action for much longer than three months or six months and - this would have been even more serious - oil supplies to Europe would have been interrupted, with the result that British military aircraft would not have been able to fh and British warships would have been unable to put to sea, because of lack of fuel. The whole of the transport system of the United Kingdom would have come to a standstill. The United States of America could have done no more than supply a limited quantity of oil to the United Kingdom for a limited time, because the Americans consume 25 per cent, more oil fuel than they produce. The United States imports oil. Does the Leader of the Opposition contradict that statement? Let me assure him that the United States imports oil from Venezuela, and that it consumes 25 per cent. more oil than it is able to produce. The countries of the Middle East export 22 per cent. of the total quantity of oil used in the world to-day, and 75 per cent. of the oil reserves of the world are located in that area.

Great Britain had to act quickly when : it saw a situation developing in the Middle East that could have set the whole of the Arab world aflame. Iraq could have been drawn into the Arab bloc to fight against Israel. The only way to prevent that was to act quickly - to put out the fire before the Suez Canal and the oil wells of the Middle East were put out of action for a very long time. Let us not overlook the most significant point. These people have been armed by Soviet Russia, which has been behind all the moves that have been made by the countries of the Middle East for some years. The leaders of Soviet Russia are not so naive as not to realize that if they could freeze theflow of oil from the Middle East they could win the battle for the control of the world. By freezing the flow of oil from the Middle East, they could neutralize the defence forces of the United Kingdom and the countries of Western Europe. Without oil, those countries would be unable to strike a blow, and the Soviet Union would control the world.

Let us have no more of these nonsensical suggestions that the United Kingdom has not been morally honest. Only the woolly headed, the naive and the dishonest will suggest that. By its action in the Middle East, the United Kingdom has averted a third world war - a war in which it would have been physically handicapped to a great degree. In addition, it has prevented Iraq from becoming involved in this turmoil and has delayed, if not permanently destroyed, the opportunity for Soviet Russia to gain control of the oil of the world and, consequently, to gain control of the peoples of of the world and deal with other nations in the way in which it has dealt with Hungary. But it suits the purpose of the Leader of the Opposition to overlook those facts. At no stage of the remarks that he made in answer to the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) did he say one word in condemnation of Soviet Russia - and I listened to every word that he had to say. I repeat that I was disgusted with the efforts of the Leader of the Opposition.

Dr Evatt - You dirty slanderer!

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