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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 208

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) (Minister for Works) - This morning at question time I answered questions by Senator Wriedt and Senator Murphy concerning the expression by any representative of the Australian Labor Party of its point of view in opposition to nuclear tests by Mainland China. I said that in the absence of any record I had no knowledge of any such statement. Senator Murphy has since drawn my attention to 3 or 4 such instances in the records of this Parliament and I wish to direct them to the attention of honourable senators in fairness to the Opposition and to withdraw any inference that could be drawn from my remarks that the Opposition had not expressed its disapproval of nuclear tests specifically in relation to Mainland China. Members of the Opposition have done so in most explicit terms and it is only fair that I should state so. I regret that in the absence of knowledge of these records I gave expression publicly in the Senate to any other implication.

The first instance is recorded in the Senate Hansard of 27th April 1965 in a question headed 'Nuclear Tests'. Senator Murphy asked a question upon notice of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, Senator Gorton, in which Senator Murphy expressly asked:

When, and in what manner, have protests been made by the Commonwealth against nuclear tests or proposed nuclear tests by (a) France, and (b) China?

I need not read the answer as I am simply indicating the extent to which the disapproval of the Opposition has been expressed. The second instance is recorded in the Senate Hansard of 13th May 1966 under the heading 'Chinese Nuclear Tests'. Senator Murphy asked:

My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the explosion a few days ago of a Chinese nuclear device causing a spread of radioactivity outside the territory of China. What is the Government doing to protest against this latest outrage against humanity

Senator Gortonreplied:

The Government has made it abundantly clear internationally, in the United Nations, and in its own statements that it adheres to the nuclear disarmament treaty and is opposed to the proliferation of nuclear armaments and to tests carried out by any country.

The third instance is recorded in the Senate Hansard of 18th May 1965 in a question headed 'Nuclear Test Ban'. In a question asked by Senator Murphy of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, he asked:

Will the Government go further and make an emphatic protest in the United Nations and elsewhere at this preparation for war. . . .

He had referred to the second Chinese nuclear test which, he said, not only polluted the environment but was also an affront to the possible aspirations of mankind. The last reference to which I am obliged to call attention appears in yesterday's Hansard of another place. Mr Whitlam said in relation to his visit to Mainland China that he had discussed 3 matters on which there were basic disagreements between the Chinese Government and the Australian Labor Party. The third subject to which he referred concerned nuclear weapons and he mentioned what was said on that subject in Dr Fitzgerald's book in the Library. I am obliged to Senator Murphy for bringing my attention to those references and for enabling me to state the facts quite fully and, I hope, fairly. Again I express my regret that any inference to the contrary could be drawn from my remarks.

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