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Wednesday, 24 September 1958

Mr TURNER (Bradfield) .- The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) rose to speak because, he said, he was overwhelmed with indignation. I am rising to speak for the same reason. The honorable member has criticized the Government because it has agreed to the export of something over £1,000,000 worth of steel to red China. Just for the sake of the record let me say at once that if that steel had not been supplied by Australia it would have been supplied by the United Kingdom or by West Germany. I am not speaking loosely when I make that statement. I am speaking of a fact that I know. What this proves is that it is impossible for one country, such as Australia, to cut off trade with Communists powers by itself. It is possible for trade to be cut off with Communist countries only if the western countries stand together and agree to do so.

It would be a very naive person who would suppose that the Communist powers engage in trade with us for purely economic reasons. Leaders of Communist countries, such as Chou En-lai, have said quite plainly, quite distinctly, quite unequivocally, "We engage in trade for political reasons, and for political reasons only." They are not concerned with trade as we are concerned with trade. They are not concerned with it as a matter of economics. Very well! If the Western world continues to engage in trade with the Communist powers it must ultimately be caught in that net. This is a political thing, not economic. We know there have been examples of it, cases where Communist powers have simply cut off trade as with a knife, when a western country has become dependent on that trade. Take the position of Australia, which to-day sells £20,000,000 worth or £30,000,000 worth of wool to red China. Now, £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 worth of wool may be a not very great proportion of the total sale of wool by Australia; but it is enough to affect the price appreciably. Suppose that next year the red Chinese say, " We will buy none of your wool," and the result is that the price declines in Australia. What will the graziers say then? What will the Labour party say then? They will say that we must sell our wool to red China. Supposing China then said, " Very well! The price is that you must recognize our regime. You must support our admission to the United Nations."

I leave aside, for the moment, the question of whether those would be good things or bad things. I say only that the Communists will be in a position to bargain with us and demand a price which political pressures may require us to pay. I bring the example right home to our own position in this country. That is a trap into which the Western world is falling. Unless the Western world combines to cut off trade with the Communist countries we will lose the cold war. To honorable gentlemen opposite, that might be a matter for congratulation. They have always been on the side of Russia and China and all our enemies. They have always given aid and comfort to our enemies. Loss of the cold war might not be a matter of concern to them, but it is a matter of concern to us who wish to retain the independence of this country. So, I rose to correct an error on the part of the honorable member for Scullin, and I rose because I, too, was overwhelmed by indignation.

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