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Wednesday, 16 March 1966

Mr GALVIN (KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Prime Minister. If no state of war exists, despite the fact that national service trainees are to be sent to fight and perhaps die in Vietnam, will the right honorable gentleman state whether he considers that a state of defence emergency exists? If it does, is it correct that the Government will shortly issue a proclamation to this effect and extend the serving time of national service trainees from two years to five years under the provisions of the National Service Act which the Government amended for this purpose last year?

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman is trying to create some atmosphere of uncertainty and apprehension in the Australian community. It does neither him nor his Party credit to pursue tactics of this kind. They are quite obviously for party political purposes. The position described by the honorable gentleman has not arisen. I pointed out yesterday that there is a limited participation by Australia in theatres in which military operations are occurring, and that that participation by Australia is either in discharge of our own commitments to our allies or in respect of obligations which we have held it proper for us to assume having regard to Australia's general national interest, both in the short term and in the long term. When there is any aspect of policy in relation to these matters which the Government feels it desirable to announce or is in a position to announce, that will be dealt with in the appropriate way. There is no matter currently before us which calls for the kind of statement which the honorable gentleman has invited us to make.

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