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Wednesday, 12 April 1961

Mr HASLUCK (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Territories) - I would not attempt to clarify the question of how these reports arose because I have no first-hand knowledge of them. I understand from the statements made to me by Dr. Bot himself that he gave no press interview and made no statement at all in Hollandia on this subject up to the time that the first stories appeared. After the stories had appeared - as I say, I make no comment on their origin - in order to make his position and the position of his Minister quite clear, he did issue a press statement in Hollandia. He was good enough to show me a copy of it when he issued it. 1 have not that statement before me, but it said something to this effect: The Netherlands Government did not expect a large-scale attack on West New Guinea; its own forces in West New Guinea were sufficient only to deal with limited raids and infiltrations; and if anything other than a limited raid or an infiltration occurred, the Netherlands Government would regard that as being a matter of concern to the United Nations and a matter for handling through the United Nations. As Dr. Bot explained quite carefully, that was the position regarding any use of force in West New Guinea. Then he added that he would assume that in the case of an attack and a reference to the United Nations, other Pacific powers such as the United States of America and Australia could not - I think " could not " was the phrase - remain indifferent.

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