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Monday, 22 October 1984
Page: 2103

Senator McINTOSH —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What is the Government's reaction to the report on AM this morning concerning documents released by the New Zealand Government dealing with the Soviet build-up in the Pacific? Is not the release of documents being made by the New Zealand defence establishment in an attempt to undermine the Lange Government's anti-nuclear position? Do not such statements serve only to heighten tension in this area of the world and further isolate Vietnam from the Association of South East Asian Nations and Australasia as well as give an overstated view of the extent of the Soviet build-up in the Pacific?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government is aware of the AM report today concerning documents released by the New Zealand Government dealing with the Soviet build- up in the Pacific. We have not yet seen the documents and therefore cannot comment on their substance at this stage. Nor is the Government in a position to comment, even it it wanted to, on either the original source of the documents or the motivation for their release. I can say on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Government remains concerned at the Soviet build-up in the Pacific and its implications for stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Access to Vietnamese military facilities in Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang has helped the Soviet Union to deploy and maintain military forces in the South East Asian, east Asian and Indian Ocean areas. It is the case that unless Vietnam can be brought into a normal relationship with the Asia-Pacific region and the rest of the world community, Vietnam's reliance on the Soviet Union may well continue to grow and provide the Soviet Union with further opportunities to expand its influence. Of course that consideration gives added weight and force to the Government's initiatives in this respect.