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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1590


Dr THEOPHANOUS —The Minister for Foreign Affairs would be aware of the serious plight of the 270,000 refugees on the Thai-Kampuchean border. Will he inform the House of recent trends in the crisis in Kampuchea and, in particular, what role Australia can play in achieving a political and just solution?


Mr HAYDEN —Madam Speaker--


Mr Howard —You ought to go there again, Bill.


Mr HAYDEN —The honourable member should not talk. I saw him on television at a national meeting of all his supporters making a phone call a fortnight ago. A number of suggestions have been made about the processes which might be adopted in an effort to bring about dialogue between the parties directly involved in the conflict on the border of Kampuchea, proposals such as cocktail parties, third party engagement, proximity talks and conferences of various types. So far there has been very little progress. One of the major reasons is that, on the one hand, the Vietnamese authorities and the Government of Kampuchea have declared that if there are to be any such engagements the Government of Kampuchea, that is, the Heng Samrin Government, has to be represented. Its assertion is that it is the legitimate government of Kampuchea. On the other hand, the coalition government forces of democratic Kampuchea, as they are called, the Khmer resistance forces, of which there are three distinctive units, have declared that they will not talk with the representatives of the Government of Kampuchea, that it is a puppet government and that it will speak only with Vietnam about the future of Kampuchea because it is the occupying force.

Australia has made some contributions in this area in an effort also to try to help dialogue. There has not been any major, perceptible improvement as a result of anyone's contribution, but people continue to try. Our conditions have been laid down and are similar to those which have been put forward by the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations. We will continue to try.

A document the honourable member has prepared on the plight of the Khmer refugees on the border of Kampuchea in Thailand as a result of his visit to the area reflects a humane, compassionate and informed concern about this matter. It helps to develop an understanding of the issues involved by its analysis of the situation there, of the consequences of what is taking place and of the power play which is, quite evidently, central to developments there. For my part I have appreciated his providing me with a copy of that working paper which has been analysed carefully by the Department of Foreign Affairs. I believe that some of the positive suggestions he brings forward deserve further attention.