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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 215


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - The importance that the Government is now forced to give this subject has been revealed by the entry of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) into a debate on a statement which normally does not receive the attention of any other Minister but the. one that delivers it. The entry rather desperately and assertively of the Minister for Foreign Affairs into this debate shows what has happened in the last few months. The Government knows that it has to defend itself on this subject and is not missing an opportunity to do so in an exaggerated manner. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has exaggerated very considerably the opposition that he claims his Government has made to the conduct of tests by the French in the Pacific. He went back to 1958, 1959 and 1963 and said that Australia had said something about the French tests. I was waiting for him to tell us the exact words that Australia used in those years but I noticed that, significantly, the Minister did not do so. It was not until a United Nations resolution quite recently that he even quoted a word that any of his predecessors or any of the preceding Governments had said in criticism of the French tests. And then the words that he did use were noi Australia's words; they were the words contained in a United Nations resolution which Australia did not move but presumably Australia voted for it.

The significance of that resolution is that it expressed opposition to tests in all environments by all States, not by France at all. The attitude that has been taken by people who support resolutions of that kind, including this present Government, is that they will not protest against the testing of nuclear weapons by one nation but only against all. Only if all stop can you expect one to stop is the principle that has been underlying resolutions of that kind since the very beginning, and that was the principle underlying this resolution, too. The Government could have said, and would have said, to the French authorities: 'We do not expect you to stop until all stop', and this resolution is perfectly consistent with that position. Indeed, when I spoke to the Diplomatic Counsellor to the President, M. Bernard, in the Elysee Palace, he told me that the Australian Government had always been sympathetic and always had shown an understanding of the French policy to develop a nuclear weapon. I repeat: The diplomatic adviser to the President of France told me that the Australian Government had always been sympathetic and always had shown understanding towards the French policy to develop a nuclear weapon. Apparently there is to be no interjection in reply to that statement.

The other point made by the Minister was: What have we got to say about the People's Republic of China? I can speak for the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and myself on this subject. Ever since the Chinese first showed any signs of developing a nuclear weapon both the honourable member for Reid and I have consistently opposed this.


Mr Jess - Where?


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - Everywhere. I have made dozens of speeches in which I have opposed this.


Mr Jess - Quote one.


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I made one last Sunday.


Mr Jess - Did you?


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - Yes, I did.


Mr Jess - Where?


Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I made one last Sunday in Sydney.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member for La Trobe may take part in the debate at a later stage.







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