I’m fishing around in Hansard to finish up the last part of a project. I came across this interesting exchange from 28 November 1957:
J.R. Fraser was a Labor Member of Parliament representing the ACT. Robert Menzies was Prime Minister of Australia at the time.
LAYING OF WREATHS AT THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL.
Mr. J. R. FRASER.— I ask the Prime Minister: Has it been the practice ever since former enemy countries began to establish diplomatic missions in this country, that, at commemorative ceremonies at the Australian War Memorial, only diplomats representing British Commonwealth countries lay wreaths at the Stone of Remembrance? In view of this, why have arrangements been made for the Prime Minister of Japan to visit the war memorial and to lay a wreath at the Stone of Remembrance? Have these arrangements been made at the request of the Prime Minister of Japan, and if so, does this indicate any national repentance on the part of that country? Alternatively, has the wreath-laying ceremony been arranged by the department responsible for the arrangements for the Japanese Prime
Minister’s tour, and if so, can the arrangements now be varied? Would any wreath laid by the Prime Minister of Japan at the
Australian War Memorial honour the memory of thousands of Australian servicemen and women who were butchered or
murdered by the Japanese or starved in Japanese prison camps?
Mr. MENZIES.— If the Government adopted the view of the honorable member it would, of course, not have invited the
Prime Minister of Japan to come here at all. Still less would it invite him to come here and then go out of its way to offer
him affronts. We have invited the Prime Minister of Japan to come here. The great majority of the people of Australia have
realized for a long time now that we must live in the world with Japan and must try to accommodate our relations for the future
on a basis of understanding and friendship.
Mr. Webb.—Does that apply to all countries?
Mr. MENZIES.—That applies to all countries. Of course it does.
Mr. Clyde Cameron. — When is Khrushchev coming?
Mr. MENZIES.— I do not know. You would know more about that than I would. When you get an answer to your last letter
I will communicate with you. The reference made to the laying of wreaths on certain ceremonial occasions—Anzac Day and
Remembrance Day—is a reference to the procedure that has been developed that wreaths should be laid by representatives
of Commonwealth countries. There is a variety of reasons for that, and they are not difficult to understand. If the Prime
Minister of some other country, or some other visitor, chooses to lay a wreath on the National War Memorial, or in connexion
with it, he will be doing exactly what many people from our own country have done in other countries—some former friends and
some former enemies. I hope nothing will be said to perpetuate the state of mind that the honorable member has so clearly
exhibited in his question.