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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - 1 am glad that this matter has been brought before the House for discussion, although I regret some of the terms in which the notice has been couched, because I think that the question of the control of atomic weapons is the most important matter that confronts this House or, indeed, any parliament. Since I have been a member of this House, I have continuously believed this to be the most important of all matters. I do not in any way disbelieve, or detract from, the statements that have been made about the evils of atomic weapons when they are used in war. I do not think that there is any exaggeration in what has been said about the devastating effects that these weapons might have on all humanity, and I believe that it is our paramount duty to do what is necessary to reduce the risk of ultimate disaster. However, I rather regret the exaggerated statements that have been made by several Opposition members about the harm that has been done, or may possibly be done, by tests of atomic weapons.

If honorable members examine the two basic documents on this matter - "The Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation ", published in the United States of America by the National Academy of Sciences, and " The Hazards to Man of Nuclear and Allied Radiations ", published in the United Kingdom as a parliamentary White Paper, both of them having been published in June of last year - they will see the kind of exaggeration of which Opposition members have been guilty in their discussion of this issue. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) misquoted material on numerous occasions. He did not seem to understand the things that he was dealing with, because his physical facts, as he quoted them, were simply, in some, though not in all, respects, a farrago of nonsense. Some, though not all, of the statements made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) were in the same category, particularly his distortion of the real sense of the comments of Professor Haddow, a man whom I know personally, and with whom I took the opportunity to discuss these matters at great length when I was in England several years ago.

There has been a campaign of exaggeration on the part of Opposition members. I do not say that it was a deliberate campaign, but I do say that Opposition members, not knowing what they were doing, have been used as the instruments of a campaign of deliberate exaggeration in this matter. I do not suggest that there has been any exaggeration about the ultimate effects of atomic warfare, but I do say that the effects of the testing of nuclear weapons, which have been blown up into such a big issue, are, unfortunately, not of comparative consequence. I would say that this exaggeration is part of a Communist plan, because, quite undeniably, it originated in the Kremlin. It is part of a Communist plan to prevent the effective world control of nuclear weapons. I want to take the minds of honorable members back, briefly, to what happened earlier. The Russians, in order to prevent the nations of the world from getting together and banning atomic weapons, effectively raised a phony cry, " Ban the atomic bomb ", while, at the same time, they did everything they could to prevent any ban from becoming effective. So to-day, when some effective measures which could help towards the real objectives which. I think, in some instances, Opposition members sincerely seek to achieve, are open to us, the Russians endeavour to confuse us by leading us off onto these side tracks in order to take our minds off the main issue. I believe that they have used Opposition members, and that those members do not always know how the Russians are using them.

We do not want to exaggerate the effects of atomic weapons tests. Exaggeration is being used deliberately in an effort to turn our minds away from the really effective things that we could do to obtain international atomic control. The Opposition should now be supporting the full " open skies " proposal which the United States of America advanced several years ago, and which Russia refused to accept then, although it has now made some small move towards accepting it. The present Russian proposals are " loaded ", but, as I said in this House only a couple of weeks ago, they form the basis on which we should be pressing negotiations. This campaign for the cessation of tests of atomic weapons is being blown up to extraordinary proportions in order to turn our minds away from the things that we should be doing. It is part of a Russian plan to turn us away from the taking of effective measures for world disarmament and world control of atomic weapons. Those tactics have been used in the past, and Opposition members, whether or not they like it, or know it, were used as instruments of the Russian plan. I say also - and I have said this in the House before - that the worst disservice that the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) has done to Australia and the world was to sponsor irresolution-

Mr R W HOLT (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I rise to order. I should like to know what authority the honorable member for Moreton has to bring into this House a recording machine in order to record a speech - if it is a recording machine; it looks suspiciously like one from where I sit.


Order! If the honorable member for Moreton has brought a recording machine into the House he is strictly out of order.

Mr Killen - By way of a personal explanation, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, may I say that it is not a recording machine but a geiger counter.

Mr WENTWORTH - The worst disservice that the right honorable member for Barton has done has been his co-operation with the Communists - I think his unknowing co-operation, because it seems to me that he has not always understood the purposes for which they were using him.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I rise to order. What authority has the honorable member for Moreton to bring into the chamber a geiger counter, or any other mechanical contrivance that endangers the health of honorable members?


Order! There is no point of order involved.

Mr WENTWORTH - Doubtless, these points of order are being taken so that I will not be able to say what should be said about the past conduct of the right honorable member for Barton. As I have said, I do not believe that he has always known what he was doing, but as one of the chief architects of irresolution in the United Nations on this issue, he is very largely responsible for the atomic impasse in which we find ourselves to-day. His attitude has been in accordance with the general Russian plan. Once again the Opposition - I think in many cases unknowingly - is following the Russian plan, because instead of concentrating on the things which are effective and the things which could be done; instead of getting behind the full " open skies " plan, because no agreement to ban tests is of any use at all without inspection; and instead of supporting the things that it should support, it has endeavoured to confuse the public mind and also to confuse men of goodwill. There is a great number of men of goodwill in this argument, but honorable members opposite have attempted to confuse them by bringing forward this aspect which is obviously out of all proportion to the facts.

Mr R W HOLT (WANNON, VICTORIA) Mr. R.W. Holt interjecting,


Order! The honorable member for Darebin will remain quiet.

Mr WENTWORTH - I believe that this House has a duty to turn its mind to the things that are really effective for atomic control. That is the first duty of the House, and I think, therefore, that this debate is not without some good points, because it has enabled these matters to be discussed. What we have to do now is, first, to achieve a system of universal inspection which will make other measures possible. It is of no use simply to say, " Stop the tests! " What does that bring?

Mr.ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKEROrder! The honorable member's time has expired.

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