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Thursday, 16 March 1961

Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - Has the Acting Minister for External Affairs any information concerning the statements of Prince Souvanna Phouma since his recent visit to the Pathet Lao? Has the Minister any information about the Russian-Viet Minh build-up on the Plaine des Jarres? Even if newspaper reports are only half correct, does he not consider that Parliament and the people should be kept in close and constant touch with the situation which does more to threaten the security of Australia than any event since Pearl Harbour? Why have we been left with the impression that Russian-Viet Minh aid to the Laotian Communists was relatively unimportant instead of a threat of an armed takeover as it can more accurately be described? Did Prince Phouma take two American newspaper men with him to Hanoi and the head-quarters of the Pathet Lao? Does the Minister consider that what Prince Phouma saw helped him to decide to take off on a world trip? Will not has absence have a marked effect on a most explosive situation?

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