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Thursday, 18 September 1958


Mr MENZIES - It seems a little unfortunate if my colleague has to answer a question about a press conference of mine, so perhaps I might deal with this matter.


Dr Evatt - The Minister for Defence is acting as the Minister for External Affairs.


Mr MENZIES - The question relates to a press conference at which the Minister was not present, nor, indeed, was the honorable member for Yarra. I was asked at the press conference, not whether we had some general policy on Quemoy and

Matsu, but whether we had formulated a specific policy. I said, " What do you mean by a specific policy? " The questioner then said, " Well, do we favour retention of the islands by the Nationalists? " I said, " I have no comment to make on that". I make that statement because it should be made quite clear that there has been a good deal of distortion on this matter. It happens that a verbatim note is taken of my press conferences.

The position was - and is - that the Government of Australia has said as little as possible publicly on a matter which it does not think will be assisted by a good deal of public discussion and public argument between governments, and agreements or disagreements freely expressed. The matter is too important for that. In point of fact, I have devoted an immense amount of time to this problem, both before the press conference and since. I have been in constant communication with the Minister for External Affairs. I have, in fact, been in communication with other responsible people in other governments, the whole idea being that we should endeavour by our communing with each other to secure two things, each of which was referred to very powerfully in a recent statement made by the President of the United States of America. The first is that there should be no encouragement to aggression as a means of establishing allegedly legal territorial claims. The President stated that. It is a proper statement. T believe it represents the common view of the entire civilized world. That appears to me to be a clear statement. The second was that, contingent upon or in consequence of that one, there should be, so far as possible, a settlement of all these matters by peaceful negotiation. That is now being tried in the conference at Warsaw, which we all hope will lead to some satisfactory result.

In the meantime, ideas that any of us might have, should, in my judgment - and I will stand on my own judgment in this matter - be expressed privately and, at this stage, confidentially to the people with whom we are concerned. Otherwise, we are going to promote a great debate on this matter - a debate which cannot help any solution in this case, because the whole problem that confronts the world is, first, how to secure peace; and second, how to avoid appeasement. This is a problem of immense delicacy. It is not to be assumed that the United States of America does not understand it or that the Government of the United Kingdom does not understand it. If I have any constructive ideas that may help on that matter, I like to put them directly to those great friends of ours.







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