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Thursday, 19 May 1960

Mr McEWEN - Yesterday, I gave an undertaking to the Leader of the Opposition and the House that, if I found myself able to do so, I would make a further statement on this matter. On the basis of the latest information, I have to say that really there is nothing new to report, because the whole incident - the breakdown of the Summit conference - has taken place in the open, and has been widely publicized. Therefore, we are really in the field of speculation when considering what were Mr. Khrushchev's motives. Ostensibly, he has taken his stand on the ground of moral indignation because a United States reconnaissance flight took place over Soviet territory, and because of his failure to force the American President to apologise publicly and undertake, in Mr. Khrushchev's words, " to punish those who are responsible ".

Mr. Speaker,in the light of the wide knowledge that exists of the Communist Soviet's world-wide espionage activities - which I refer to not in accusatory terms at this moment but in factual terms - surely Mr. Khrushchev's great indignation cannot really be taken at face value, and can scarcely be taken as itself explaining the extremity of his conduct. For myself, I can only believe that Mr. Khrushchev had, for reasons certainly not perceptible to me. simply decided before-hand not to go through with the Summit negotiations. With the whole question of world tension at issue, I cannot believe that all efforts to ease tension were set aside, if not wrecked, simply because Mr. Krushchev could not get a public apology from the American President. more especially as Mr. Eisenhower had, some days before said that reconnaissance flights over Soviet territory would be suspended. I remind the House that Mr. Khrushchev had said in Moscow on 12th May that the incident of the American reconnaissance flight would not be allowed to prevent the hold- ing of the conference.

The whole situation is now uncertain, andI will not say it is notdangerous. Mr.

Khrushchev's present attitude, which is the reverse of that taken after he had knowledge of the reconnaissance flight, is so extraordinary that one cannot help relating it to the fact that communism does not produce a democracy, and that Mr. Khrushchev may have turned about simply because of pressures upon himself by competitive influences within his own country.

I think our attitude undoubtedly should be that which 1 am sure will be the attitude of our great friends - that although this conference has failed, the concept of the Summit conference is not inevitably destroyed. We are grievously disappointed. We can be sure that this break is not attributable to the West. It was Mr. Khrushchev who walked out and broke up the conference. 1 repeat that I will not conceal the dangers of the situation, and I certainly do not conceal the great disappointment of Australians; but if humanity is to have any hope for the future, we must not allow this incident to dictate our thinking completely, but must devote ourselves, with our great friends of the West, to the tedious and difficult process of endeavouring once again to bring the great leaders of the world round the same table to talk in good faith about the future, and for the future, of humanity.

I repeat what I said yesterday, and the Leader of the Opposition immediately associated himself with that statement - that it is quite clear to this Parliament and this people that the well-being of the Australian nation is inevitably bound up with the safety and security of our friends of the Western world.

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