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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr R W HOLT (WANNON, VICTORIA) .- In submitting this proposal the Australian Labour party has no desire to gain either party partisan advantage or political kudos because, despite the sneering scepticism from members of the Government, this is a matter far too important, far too urgent, to be demeaned by being placed on that plane. The reasons on which the Australian Labour party bases its case are essentially human reasons - reasons which mean very much to the men and women who comprise this nation. We hope, at this juncture, to present a case which will lift this matter from the purely partisan national plane onto (he international moral plane, and place it above politics to that extent. We move on account of its urgent effect on men and women and on the children of to-day and those of to-morrow. In other words, we desire that this mad race of man in perfecting the means of his own destruction should cease before it is too late.

I refer at this stage to the warning issued by Professor Albert Einstein, and signed by him two days before his death in September, 1955. It read-

It is feared that if many hydrogen bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for aminority, but, for the majority, a slow torture of disease and disintegration.

Such statements have struck a resounding chord in the minds of the people of this nation, and people who do not know who the Prime Minister of this country is could tell you the difference between an atomic bomb and a hydrogen bomb, and what the effect ofthe use of either will be if uncontrolled. The recent warnings by eminent world scientists in regard to fall-out - and the continuing fall-out up to 1970 - of strontium 90 as a result of bomb tests already made, further stress the urgency as far as the megaton or hydrogen bomb is concerned. It is not a question of whether we can afford to cease having these tests.

It is a question of whether we can afford to continue with them, particularly hydrogen bomb tests.

The people ofthis nation, in a recent gallup poll, overwhelmingly decided in favour of the cessation of these tests, subject to international control of nuclear weapons. The whole of Christendom - the Presbyterian churches, the Church of England, the Church of Christ,the Methodist Church and His Holiness the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church - has made similar pronouncements to those we are now making. The Hindu and Moslem worlds have made equally affirmative announcements. Our own political parties, especially the Australian Labour party, have reiterated the same thing. At the March conference in Brisbane the Labour party repeated its earlier statement about the prohibition of such tests as a whole, in the interests of humanity. I am very pleased to detect a change in the Minister's attitude to the danger inherent in these tests. On 7th May last, the Minister said -

I pass now to the fourth matter, and that is the question of agreement to discontinue these atomic tests - using the word " atomic " in its widest sense. I agree with members on both sides of the House that it is eminently a desirable thingto do.

Mr Beale - I have always said that.

Mr R W HOLT (WANNON, VICTORIA) - Not always, and I will deal with that later on. But even if there is some doubt on that matter, there has certainly been no such utterance from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). If the Minister is in a minority in the Government on this issue, he is to be complimented.

Mr Beale - I thought you were going to make this a non-party discussion.

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