PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 511


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: 16/05/1962

Release Type: Statement in Parliament

Transcript ID: 511

16T 1MAY, 1_ 02
After close consideration of the immense importance of
the Common Market negotiations to Australian production and
trade, and to the political future of the British Commonwealth,
I have decided that, as the head of the Australian Government, I
should make a brief visit, during the Parliamentary recess, to
Great Britain and the United States.
Mr. Macmillan, has, in correspondence with me,
expressed the hope that I can do this. My colleague, Mr. McEwen,
whose recent efforts command our admiration and gratitude, is
himself convinced that, in this period when the negotiators are
beginning to get to grips with the practical issues, on-the-spot
discussions by myself are necessary. I hope to do what I can to
reinforce and, where appropriate, supplement his own advocacy.
Jhat is clear is that we cannot spare any efforts to see that
whatever decisions ultimately emerge, they will not be arrived at
without the fullest and clearest understanding of Australia's
case, a case which rises superior to any domestic political
differences. The political implications of an entry by Great Britain
into the European Economic Community must be very significant. I
would wish to discuss them in London at an early date under
circumstances not always easy to achieve during the course of a
comparatively brief Prime Ministers' Conference.
Other great problems confront us, such as the state of
affairs in South east Asia and in Now Guinea. These concern, not
only us, but our partners in SEATO and ANZUS; our friends
g. nerally. My Government feels that I should take the opportunity
of top-level talks not only with the Government of Great Britain,
but also with the President of the United States of Amcrica.
There will be a Prime Ministers' Conference in September, a
Conference of historic significance. My own participation in it
will, I have concluded, be rendored more effective by the
knowledge I hope to gain in my talks in Juno. The more these
great issues are clarified in our own minds, and those of others,
the better should it be for wise and fruitful ultimate
conclusions. Certainly, as Prime Minister, I must seek completely to
discharge my responsibilities, by all moans within my power, to
the Parliament and people of Australia,
I now pass to other, and important aspects of the
great matters to which I have been referring.
The first is that it would be a misfortune if, durinLg
the September Conference, Parliament should be sitting at
Canberra. I am not alluding to the problem of pairs, for I know
that the Opposition would appreciate the importance of
Australia being represented at the Conference. But thoso
representing Australia in London should not, if our case is to be'
presented with singleness of purpose, be distracted by political
events in Canberra. Ie have therefore proposed to the Leader of
the Opposition that, when the general Budget debate is disposed
of, at the end of August, tho House should adjourn, not for the
customary week, but for four weeks. Adjustments can be made
thereafter to ensure that the total poriod of the Budget Session
will not be abbreviatcd.

a 2.
There is a second matter of some novelty and
importance. The Common Market problem concerns both sides of
this House, and all sections of the , ustralian community. When
the September Conference has concluded, and its results are
reported to this Parliament, it seems to us to be most
important, in a matter which transcends our domestic political
differences, that leaders on both sides should have had an
opportunity of informing their minds, overseas, on the views and
attitude of the negotiators and Governments concerned.
I have made it clear to the Leader and Deputy Leader
of the Opposition, who understand and accept what I have said,
that a Prime Ministers' Conference is priv: te, and that interim
statements cannot come out of it. But at the same time we
have invited the Opposition to send some of its leading Members
overseas, so that, by consultations of their own choosing, they
may acquaint themselves at first hand, with no commitments to rv
and with no restrictions by us on the contrary, with every
reasonable facility with the currents of opinion which have
such a bearing upon the future of Australia.
I have also informed the Leader of the Opposition that
should one or two of the pcrsons chosen by the Opposition desire
to make his or their journey during the coming Parliamentary
recess rather than in September, that will be acceptable to us.

Transcript 511