PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 712

UNITED STATES NAVAL COMMUNICATION STATION IN AUSTRALIA STATEMENT IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON TUESDAY, 26TH MARCH, 1963 BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RIGHT HON, SIR ROBERT MENZIES

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: 26/03/1963

Release Type: Statement in Parliament

Transcript ID: 712

UiITTETD STATES iJ L COMRULTNI CATIONS STATION IN
AUS TRAL IA
Statements in the House of Representatives on Tuesday,
26th March, 1963 by the Prime Minister, the
Right Hon. Sir Robert Menzies.
IN REPLY TO A QUESTION BY MR. WAPD THE PRIME MINISTER SAID
The honourable member appears not to have kept
himself abreast of statements made both inside this Parliament
and out of it over a long period. It was as long ago as
September, 1960 that the Minister for Defence told the House
that discussions had begun in an informal way with the U. S. A.
in relation to a naval radio communications station in
Australia not a military base. There has been at no time
any proposal for a military base and there is none now.
My colleague told the House about the proposal at the very
beginning and, strangely enough, no comment at all emerged
from the Opposition. Later, in January 1961, my colleague
made a further statement in which he announced that the
results of the earlier studies pursued in relation to this
subject had proved satisfactory from the technical viewpoint
of the UoS. Navy and that further discussions would take
place Mr. J. R. Fraser Is this a Dorothy Dix-er?
SIR ROBERT MENZIES: Obviously. I know the honourable member
for East Sydney so well that I was sure it was bound to come.
On 17th May, 1962, I made a lengthy statement in this House
about the same matter, I pointed out a number of things which
apparently have conveniently been forgotten by many people.
I shall not read all the stateent because it is in " Hansard''
but I said then, amongst other things, that the purpose of the
station was to provide radio communications for U S. and allied
ships over a wide area of the Indian Ocean and the Western
Pacific, Mr. Cairns Does that include submarines?
SIR ROBERT MENZIES s Of course it does, Naval forces happen
to include submarines, Then I pointed out the area of land
to be affected by the project. I said that it would be about
28 square miles. I also pointed out that this was to be leased
to the American authorities, the Commonwealth Government
acquiring the land and being the landlord, if I may put it in
that way, and therefore retaining its own sovereignty.
I said, at the same time, that the maximum
practicable use would be made of Australian contractors, labour
and materials, It is a pity that one should have to repeat
the statement now, but I went on to say that arrangements
would be made for consultation between the two Governments on
matters relating to the station and its use. I said that the
facilities of the station would be available to the Australian
forces. Finally, I pointed out and this again is sometimes
forgotten that the establishment of the station was within
the spirit of co-operation envisaged in the ANZUS Treaty,
under which the parties agreed to co-ordinate their efforts
for collective defence for the preservation of peace and
security. o0@ 0 ,/ 2

On 6th Mirch of this year my colle:' gu,. the Minister
for Dofenco, made a furtheir quite elaborate scTatei, ento
I shall not'read it all, but after pointing out a number
of the features of this communications station, he said
" Following consultation with the Western
Australian Government, the land required for the
project will be acquired by the Commonwealth
Government,"
He set out the area and said once more that sovereignty would
remain with Australia, He then said
" o.. o.. the technical facilities of ttie station will
be available to the Australian Armed Forces, This
will contribute significantly to Australia's defence
capability, particularly in the light of the Government's
recent decision to establish an R. A. N.
submarine service,"
He added " oo o... the establishment of this station will provide
improved communications for allied surface ships
and submarines over a wide area of the Indian
Ocean and the Western Paci. fic, and will make a
highly significant contribution to general allied
military capability in the areao"
Then for good measure, two, days later he made a further
statement to a similar effoct,
I have mentioned these matters because there has been
a disposition in some qunrters to say that the House has not
been told about themo " ihe House has boon toldo It has been
told all that was available to be toldo A num. ber of the
details of the agreement are as yet unconcluded, They are
not matters of mnassivo importance, There are certain details
of the transaction which are still under discussion, In
fact, only this morning my colleague, the Attorney-General,
has been debating two or t-rcee outstanding points, Whon
these details have been worked out and this matter, which
is most important from the point of view of the United
States of America, the Allied point of view and our own
point of view, can be put in han! d, we propose so that
there may be no doubt outside about the validity of what
we are doing, to annexe the agreement in its full and final
terms to a bill and to invite the Parliament to ratify it.
That bill wi. ll be introduced as soon as possible, I do not
mean within the next day or two,
Mr, Calwell Within a couple of months?
SIR ROBERT MENZIES: I should hope it would be before then,
I shall be very disappointed if the bill cannot be introduced
within the next two or three weeks. That will give every
member of the House an opportunity to re-read the statements
already made and to arm himself with various arguments about
the matter. 3000 00/ 3

3
IN REPLY TO A QUESTION BY r NhH! RT. L AM, THE PRIME MINISTER
SAID Certainly Australia. This is not something that
will displace the ANZUS Pact. It is, on the contrary,
something that rather tends to grow out of it, and when
the agreement is presented to the Parliament
Mr. Haylen Ohl
SIR ROBERT MENZIES: I know that honourable members opposite
have never quite cared for the ANZUS Pact. We on this side
and the Australian people care for it. Uhen the agreement
is presented to the Parliament, honourable members will find
that it refers back specifically to the ANZUS greement and
derives from that a very fine reason for stepping forward
into this act which will give to the United States of America
our allies for all those purposes the right to establish
a communications centre. Honourable members opposite hte
been so beguiling themselves with ideas of a radio station
surrounded by nuclear weapons, and a naval base in the
vicinity, that they have simply forgotten to read what has
been said about the proposed station oi to understand what
the real nature of the proposal is.

Transcript 712