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Tuesday, 27 February 1973
Page: 26

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - I support the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister and wish to associate the Opposition with them. It is a most rare occurrence that this House on the one day notes the death of 2 former Presidents of our great ally, the United States of America. It would be the wish of all my Party that the closeness of our alliance be maintained and sustained. Harry Truman, 33rd President, was best known for his contribution to international affairs during his presidential service from April 1945 to January 1953. Many may have agreed with him, described as he was as 'the little man from Missouri', when he said of himself: There must be a million men better qualified than I' as he acceded to the Presidency of the United States. It portrayed his modesty, and those who agreed had failed to see the quality he possessed and later showed the world. He undoubtedly grew with his job and made a very great contribution to the world as we know it today.

A common man to the end, with no sense of personal grandeur, he nevertheless exhibited a great strength in decision taking and firm leadership when he believed he was right. His order led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. History will always argue about his decision, but there can be no doubt that he made it believing it to be right. Its ramifications could not have been fully apparent to him then, or to the rest of the world then, and it remains to us the manifestation of the ferocity of science and its sheer power. We earnestly pray that no human being will ever again face such a decision. Yet, in contrast, his strength and foresight led him to commit his country to the policies of the Truman Doctrine and to the Marshall Plan - the massive economic reconstruction of Europe - costing the United States up to $12,000m from 1948 to 1951 alone, at a time when Europe was literally at its knees. This Marshall Plan was aptly described as 'the most unsordid of unsordid acts in American history*. It saved Europe and it made Europe, and it created in Europe a force for world advance which we know today.

The historian Arnold Toynbee wrote that these mammoth projects of economic assistance, without any precedent in history, would be remembered as the signal achievement of the age. That was the opinion of Toynbee. Truman's domestic achievements have not been so well remembered. His Fair Deal was bold, liberal and far sighted, but much of it was frustrated by Congress. Harry Truman combined wisdom and strength with integrity and humanity. He suffered at times great personal vilification, but his achievements will live in history. He said at the end: 'I tried to give it everything'.

Many of us in this chamber have met Lyndon Baines Johnson. No President of the United States has been closer to Australia and Australians than was Lyndon Johnson. We accepted his hand of friendship which as a big man he offered. We accepted his belief in Australia when he said in Melbourne:

Your insight into Asia, your geographic position, and the integrity of your people have brought you to the edge of an era - the Pacific era - of infinite possibilities. Those of us in America who look west - and those in Asia who look east - will find a crossroad in Australia.

He was a liberal and reforming President who attempted to create a Great Society. He had very significant domestic achievements. He launched a war on poverty and unemployment. He relentlessly pursued civil rights reforms, including the Voting Rights Act of 196S, and he launched a massive programme of aid to schools and universities.

However, the bitter controversy over the Vietnam war that raged around that President submerged in our memories some of those achievements. He led a great nation in one of its most difficult periods. At the time of his death I said that his personal agonising over that war reflected his deep humanity and that humanity was a testimony to his greatness and no doubt was a major contributor to his early death. No man has borne greater personal burdens for the sake of his country. This country should remember him and will remember him as a great world leader. He came here twice as President, as the Prime Minister has said, and by those actions he set the seal on his friendship for Australia and his determination to maintain the closeness of our alliance.

Mr Pearson,by his stature and efforts, gave his country Canada a new and significant role in international relations. Domestically, he achieved a significant programme of reforms, particularly in the fields of social services and legal rights. This was in spite of a precarious majority in his Parliament. Indeed, at one stage I think it was a minority government. He had the courage to take and carry through unpopular decisions when he thought they were right and in the national interest. He grappled with the problem of the French separatists and the culture clash that was polarising his country. His achievements in the move towards bi-culturalism alone were enough to make him an important leader in the history of his country but it is as an international diplomat and statesman that he is better known. He was the key adviser in the San Francisco Conference in 1945. His contribution to the development of the United Nations Charter was comparable to the. significant contribution of our own Australian, Dr Evatt. He played an important role in the partition of Palestine in 1947. He was a chief negotiator of the Korean truce and in 1956 his hand guided the super powers towards the peace that followed the Suez crisis. His efforts were recognised by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. He was commissioned by the World Bank to do a study of underdeveloped countries. His report: 'Partners in Development' was a major contribution to thinking in this field and continues so to be. Lester Pearson became an outstanding Canadian and international statesman yet he retained a great sense of humour and a real humanity.

Each of the men we remember were best known tor the roles they played in international affairs. Each had a great liberal domestic aspiration never fully realised. Each was able to take strong unpopular decisions in spite of current pressures because they believed they were right. We stand respectful in the memory of these great men.

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