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Thursday, 12 May 1994
Page: 783


Senator MURPHY (4.59 p.m.) —I, too, was not intending to rise to speak in the debate on this motion but having listened to what Senator Hill and Senator McGauran have said, I feel I should take a few minutes to say something. This motion serves no purpose with respect to what has happened, or with respect to people's opinions or views regarding the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) or, indeed, with respect to the virtues of the Vietnam War or anything else. To me it seems to be politicising what in many respects was a very sad and sorry set of events.

  I can recall fairly vividly the days at the commencement of the Vietnam War when people were being conscripted to go to Vietnam. I was at that age which put me in with a chance of being conscripted to go to Vietnam. I suppose, in hindsight, that I fortunately missed out on the draft. But that did not stop me from sharing the views of a lot of the young people with whom I was working at the time—that there was some sense of adventure in actually going to a war. I sought to volunteer to go to Vietnam. I was married with two children at the time and fortunately, again in hindsight, I was refused on the basis that, if the number of people who were required to go could be fulfilled, volunteers would not be taken, especially when they were married with children.

  Nevertheless, as I say, I think this motion really seeks to do nothing but further politicise something that we ought not to be politicising, particularly when it was a conservative government that saw people go to Vietnam and it was a Labor government that finally acknowledged both the people who lost their lives and those who returned. I think it is sad day when we continue with these sorts of motions. Whether or not we have a view about communism, I would have hoped that this country was at least mature enough to accept the invitation extended to Do Muoi to visit.

  I do not know Do Muoi. I have never had the opportunity of knowing anything about him, but I do not think that to politicise whether he does or does not visit this country is a relevant issue for this Senate to be considering. Whether the Prime Minister should or should not have acknowledged the soldiers who fought in Vietnam is a matter of a point of view. The fact that we are merely debating such a motion is ridiculous. The fact that we will vote on it is even more ridiculous. I urge Senator Short to withdraw the motion.