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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2479

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) - -1 second the motion, and in doing so, I should like to draw the attention of the House to the petitions that were presented this afternoon. At least a dozen of them must have been on this subject. They came from every State of the Commonwealth. So there is public concern about this matter. I believe, therefore, that this is an urgent matter and that we are justified in suspending Standing Orders because of this. A responsible officer of the United Nations has said that no matter what aid is given now, something like 400,000 people will die before Christmas, but that if this aid is organised now something like 400.000 people will be saved in the months after Christmas. So it is a question not only of Australian action but also of action by the Australian Government to mobilise other nations in this situation.

I am sure that the petitioners have been concerned primarily about the humanitarian position but the world has another interest in this situation beyond what ought to be its humanitarian interest. The other interest is that a war between India and Pakistan will be made more likely if the outside reaction to the situation is one of indifference, because it can be concluded that if the refugee problem is to continue it might be better to strike a blow at the government that one side might conceive as organising the refugee position or the other side might conceive as encouraging the movement of Bangla Desh, and such a war could become a world war. I believe that the interest of outside people in the displaced persons on both sides of the frontier is one factor of sanity which might well allay the situation and diminish the tendency of the 2 sides to go towards war. I therefore believe that this Parliament should discuss freely, as an urgent matter, what should be the level of aid. We are not wedded exclusively to the terms of the motion of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), but the terms of the motion of the honourable member-

Mr ACTING SPEAKER - Order! I point out to the honourable member for Fremantle that at this moment he is going into the subject matter of the motion that it is suggested should be discussed rather than the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Mr BEAZLEY -I was not debating the merits of the matter; I was merely saying that the motion is a vehicle for this House to discuss what ought to be the level of aid, and that therefore, as this question of aid and of the interest of the outside world is an important one, both for humanitarian reasons and for maintaining peace in the sub-continent, which includes India and Pakistan. I believe that the Standing Orders ought to be suspended.

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