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Tuesday, 30 September 1958

Mr Ward d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that Professor M. L. Oliphant, of the Australian National University, made a statement to the effect that an accident, such as a rat nibbling through a cable, might easily lead to a world-wide nuclear war?

2.   If so, did this statement, expressed by a renowned Australian physicist, create a state of grave disquiet and is it supported by other expert opinion in this country?

Mr Menzies - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   I understand that Professor Oliphant expressed such an opinion during a television interview.

2.   It did not create a state of grave disquiet. I am assured that other expert opinion is satisfied that the safeguards against such cable damage are more than adequate. Even if such a hypothetical accident could occur, it is quite unrealistic to suggest an outcome of the catastrophic proportions envisaged by the question.

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