PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 710


Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 21/03/1963

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 710

63/ 029
Statement by, te Priame Minister_ bt he RLl, Hon, Sir Robert Menzies
The resolution carried by a very narrow majority
in the Labor Party Conference deserves very close examination.
It is, in fact, made up of the most dangerous ambiguities.
Approval of the American radio-communications
station in the North-West has been secured only by acceptance
of conditions which threaten the establishment of the station
by our friends and allies the United States of lAmerica.
As has been repeatedly stated, the purpose of the station
is to provide means of radio-communication with naval vessels
in the Indian Ocean and in the North-' Wst Pacifico
It must be clear to anybody that the existence
of these facilities for the United States will become of
crucial importance if they become involved in hostilities
in this part of the world.
What the outside Parliament of the Labor Party
has now decided is that if such an event should occur, the
Americans cannot use these facilities except with the concurrence
of whatever Government ray then be in power in Australia.
It will be clearly seen that this is a most dangerous and
frustrating condition. Wh1at it moans is that if the United
States whictl is, I repeat, our ally and a most powerful
friend, becomes involved in hostilities with some common
enemy, and the Australian Government is disposed to isolate
itself under the clock of neutrality, a direct blow will be
struck against the United States and against its effective
conduct of naval warfare.
I wonder if the Labor Party believes that we
would establish at groat expense such facilities for ourselves
in an allied country on the condition that they could be
rendered useless by the decision of that country. In matters
of life and death for Australia, surely we know who our
friends are and what side we are on in relation to them,
I can only hope that this miserable compromise will not
inflict serious damage on the security of our own country.
There are, of course, other aspects of this
matter. The people of Australia have had a sharp reminder
that an Australian Labor Government would not be responsible
to the people or even to its own judgment, but that it would
be bound hand and foot by the decisions of 36 people forming
the A. L. P. Conference, not elected by the people of Australia
and in no sense responsible to them
I syr. pathiso with my friend, Mr. Calwell.
For the leader of a Party and an aspiring Primo Minister of
Australia to be compelled to hang around in hotel corridors
until his masters inside have given him his instructions is
a complete denial of leadership. 00..* 0 o. o/ 2

I notice that already Mr. Calwell is being
consoled by the assertion that he has had a notable
victory. He is expected to derive comfort from the
fact that a fraction less than half of his governing
body wanted to adopt a policy which would throw the
United States and its communications station out of
Australia and that an equally narrow majority has been
persuaded to accept the station only on conditions which
are both dangerous and contradictory.
The people of Australia will not have failed
to observe that the whole incident thro,., s light upon
how Labor policy is created and upon the purely nominal
and subservient role which a Labor leader is expected
to play.
CANBERRA, 21st March, 1963.

Transcript 710