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Monday, 20 May 1957

Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - The Government has consistently taken the attitude that it neither encourages nor discourages such invitations from the Government of Communist China to groups of personalities in Australia to visit China. It is left to the good sense of the individual visitor not to be - I think I might say - taken in by the obvious propaganda to which the visitors will be exposed when they are in China. I think that if one looks at the composition of the groups that have been invited to, and have visited, Communist China over the last twelve months, one will see that there is no great fear that the groups as I recall them will be taken in. The particular groups, as I remember them, included a group from the National Union of Australian University Students, Professor Fitzgerald's group, a group led by His Grace, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, a group of trade unionists led by the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and, more lately, a group of doctors. I have been kept informed of the names of the members of these groups, and I think that very few, if any, of the individuals making them up can be said to be in any way tinged with the type of politics which would make them susceptible to propaganda of the kind which undoubtedly they would receive when they reached Communist China.

As to the motive of the Communist Chinese Government in inviting these groups, I can only believe that that government thinks that it enhances its prestige to have groups of personalities of that consequence - in this case Australians - visiting China, and I take it that it would expect the groups, when they return home, to talk tolerantly, or even sympathetically, about what they saw in China. I do not myself believe that there is any evidence that the latter has happened. I believe that the visitors to China have not been individuals of the type who might be sympathetic with what they found in Communist China and I expect that the Government will continue to adopt the attitude that it neither encourages nor discourages such visits. I think we can rely on the good sense of decent Australians in that respect.

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