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Wednesday, 18 May 1960


Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Trade) - For reasons of time which, I. think, will be obvious and are implicitly understood in the honorable gentleman's question, I am not in a position to make any full statement about the recent incidents at the Summit conference, but I am able to give to the House the statement which has been issued by the heads of the three Western governments this morning. According to the latest information in my possession the heads of the three Western governments have issued the following statement in Paris -

The President of the United States, the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom take note of the fact that, because of the attitude adopted by the Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers, it has not been possible to begin, at the Summit conference, the examination of the problems which it had been agreed would be discussed between the four Chiefs of State or Government. They regret that those discussions, so important to world peace, could not take place. For their part, they remain unshaken in their conviction that all outstanding international questions should be settled, not by the use of threats or force, but by peaceful means, through negotiation, at a suitable time in the future.

That is the statement that was issued, Mr. Speaker.

The Australian Government very greatly regrets this turn of events. A meeting on which millions of people al] over the world - not only of the free world - placed high hopes has now collapsed before it had begun its work. After all the careful preparation by many governments, the visits exchanged between the four leaders themselves, and most serious and full consultations by Mr. Macmillan with the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth countries in the preceding two weeks, the disappointment is even more profound.

Although we will still allow ourselves to hope that the extensive preparatory effort will not, in the ultimate, be completely wasted, the Australian Government had certainly believed that the Summit meeting might bring a new atmosphere in international relations in which, instead of tensions and threats, we would see established a practice of reasonable negotiation on differences between the East and the West. We still believe that that is essentia] and we still hope that, in time, this will occur. We know that the Western governments share this view and are ready to continue working towards that realization. One fact is clear in this unhappy situation: It is that it was Mr. Khrushchev who walked out and broke up the conference, notwithstanding the fact that he had stated in Moscow as recently as 12th May that he would not allow the aeroplane incident to spoil or to prevent the planned conference from occurring. The events in Paris have to-day re-emphasized the unfortunate truth that there are two worlds - the Western world and the Soviet world. It is quite clear to the Australian Government that the wellbeing of the Australian nation is inseparably bound up with the future of the Western world - the free world.


Mr Calwell - Nobody would dispute that.


Mr McEWEN - I am very glad that the Leader of the Opposition associated himself with that view, as I had not doubted he would. I can now state it as the view of the Australian people, expressed in the Australian Parliament. The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, of course, will be keeping very closely in touch with events in London. Returning to the honorable member's question, if, to-morrow, I am, as I expect and hope to be, rather more fully informed than I am at this moment, I will be prepared to make a further statement in the House. If circumstances should develop which would warrant the recalling of the Parliament because of any crisis in international affairs, neither I, as Acting Prime Minister, nor the Prime Minister, on his return in a few weeks' time, would hesitate to call the House together.







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