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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1522


Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition) —The Opposition supports the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and joins with the Government in expressing its condolences and support to the President and people of the Republic of Korea. Yesterday, I sent the following message to the President of the Republic of Korea:

The Federal Opposition expresses its sympathy to yourself, your Government and the people of the Republic of Korea. We extend our special condolences to the families of those killed in this tragic attack which has outraged the Australian people. I also extend my deep personal sympathy.

It is certainly correct to say that all Australians would be appalled at this assault on a presidential party, comprising the highest holders of executive office in that nation. The Prime Minister has correctly reminded the House of the capacities of the members of the President's party who lost their lives. Many were known personally to me and to the Leader of the National Party (Mr Anthony), the former Deputy Prime Minister, and others on this side of the House who, by virtue of our previous portfolios, had dealings with a significant number. We worked with them; we admired them; we respected them; and Korea's loss is felt deeply by those of us who were in that position.

They were, as the Prime Minister has indicated, men of achievement and men of distinction, having contributed to the singular success of the Republic of Korea 's modernisation programs and the enhanced international stature of their country. It is virtually without precedent for a nation to have much of its leadership destroyed while on a goodwill visit, and this surely must be one of the most ruthless acts of modern times. The Australian Government will, of course, have the resources, including international contacts, which may help to bring to account those who perpetuated this dreadful deed. It is clear that it constitutes an affront to international morality of the utmost gravity, and tragically it follows the shooting down of the Korean airliner. Increasing acts of violence and terrorism emphasise the importance of the international community uniting against those who would have recourse to such measures. Australia has an important role to play in this process. Clearly, in current circumstances the Korean people need the reassurance of friends such as Australia, and it is the wish of the Opposition that every effort be made by the Australian Government in collaboration with Korea's other friends, be they the United States of America or Japan, to bring to the Korean people in their moment of national distress the strength of Australia's sympathy and support.

This act of terrorism heightens the importance of maintaining a fundamental understanding of the role of the Republic of Korea and the role that it has played in developing into a modern nation with an aspiration to play an increasing constructive and creative part in world affairs. The purposes of this mission-to improve the links between the Korean people and others in the region- remain as valid today as at the moment of inception. The goodwill of the people of the Republic of Korea, demonstrated in the decision to embark on this mission , has received a terrible setback. But it would be a very sad development for the world if the high purposes that the President had in mind were allowed to be dissipated by these events. Despite the continuing tension in north-east Asia, the Republic of Korea has contributed to the stability of the region, and this is sometimes overlooked by those who have expressed dissatisfaction at the pace of political development. But the contribution that the Republic of Korea makes to the security of the region, particularly Japan, is of course of the highest importance.

So it is with regret that we must accept the abandonment of the presidential visit and the cancellation of the tour of the Korean National Dance Company. When the time comes again-we hope that it is not too far in the future-for the visit to be reconsidered, we on this side of the House would want the Korean people to be clear that Australia welcomes the visit. I am sure the many Australians who have contact with the Republic would join me and the Prime Minister in the wish, the sympathy and the full measure of the motion that he has moved today.