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Wednesday, 14 March 1973
Page: 542

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - My question is directed without notice - absolutely no notices - to the Prime Minister. I ask: When he recently visited Indonesia was he correctly reported by a section of the Australian Press which stated that President Suharto was not interested in the concept of a South East Asian regional organisation?

Mr WHITLAM - I am not sure of the nature of all of the reports oh this subject but as the communique to which President Suharto and I subscribed made quite clear, the President does look forward to the time when there can be wider arrangements for consultation between his country and all its neighbours, Australia being one of Indonesia's neighbours in which the Indonesian Government is very much involved and interested. There has been a very great deal of speculation on this subject so perhaps I should take the opportunity to point out that the Press sought from Mr Malik, who has been mentioned earlier in question time today, an interview which he graciously granted. It took place immediately after I had my first discussions with President Suharto and before Mr Malik had been able to confer with the President or with me. I can assure honourable members that both the President and the Foreign Minister of Indonesia do look forward to further arrangements for consultation between the countries of this area.

Mr Snedden - I raise a point of order. I wish to inform you, Mr Speaker, that the Opposition will gladly give leave to the Prime Minister to make a statement on foreign affairs immediately after question time.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! No point of order is involved.

Mr WHITLAM - It is about time that members of the Opposition realised that a great number of the international arrangements to which Australia is a party are anachronistic or transitory and that any Australian government today ought to be looking to the future instead of looking to the past.

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