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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Dr EVATT - by leave - It seems to me that a very foolish decision has been made and it should be reviewed. First of all, permission was given for this company to visit Australia. No one has suggested for a moment that the performances of this company would not be welcomed by the people of Australia. Nothing has been said about its standing as an opera or ballet company and. as 1 have said, permission has been given for it to be admitted to Australia. It has visited New Zealand. The question of some change in the date of its performances is completely immaterial. The Government says that it should perform to Australians, but that it should not perform during the one period in which the Olympic spirit of sportsmanship should govern all Australians. Representatives from continental China will be participating in the Olympic Games. They should not be allowed to come here? They might have a dispute with the Chinese who are concentrated on the island of Formosa? They may be in dispute or other people may be in dispute with them?

How absurd it is that on this one occasion when the people of Melbourne would be glad to see performances of this kind, they are not to do so at that time! What mind conceived such an absurd position! It is a reflection on the sportsmanship of Australians and on the Olympic Games. It is a slur on Australia that such an idea should be held. What controversies will arise? As the actors or actresses dance on the stage, are there to be interruptions from the audience? I have no doubt that some people in Melbourne would be very pleased to interfere with those performances. They have shown on some other occasion an inclination to make demonstrations against people on political grounds. But surely there is nothing political in this matter. One wonders what is the dominating motive of the Government in this matter. Is it to stop incidents? Incidents of an international character, of course, happen frequently. Sometimes incidents that are apprehended are incidents that are organized. Is it feared that there may be some organized demonstration against the actors and actresses and, therefore, a performance must not be given in Melbourne at that time? This decision brings Australia into ridicule and contempt in its cultural and international relations with other countries at a time when it is the host country to all the nations in the great Olympiad. The Government should be ashamed of itself!

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